Want to drive success? Give your employees the same experience as your customers
Over the past few years, companies have understood the necessity of providing an excellent customer experience (CX). Organizations across the globe have taken steps to delight their customers and turn fans into loyal fanatics. In fact, the customer experience management market is projected to be worth $16.91 billion USD by 2022. That’s good news for companies focusing on external CX.
But what about internal customers – your employees? Employees have many customer-like interactions within your organization that provide an opportunity – or a risk – to improving their overall employee experience (EX). When organizations embrace the idea that employees have expectations around the customer service provided internally, they can foster an environment that drives both managing and understanding internal CX, which in turn promotes strong EX.
Who are internal customers?
Internal customers are stakeholders who work within your company (employees) and require assistance from another individual or department to get their job done. This is in contrast to external customers who pay for your services and are not directly connected to the organization. For example, think about when an employee needs to fix a computer issue with an IT help desk or request support on benefits from HR. Employees have a relationship with the groups internally that they request service or support from.
This doesn’t just include employees on the front lines, but back office personnel too. For instance, when Jeff doesn’t get payroll timesheets in on time, Jane can’t process it, and the workforce doesn’t get paid.
Examples of internal customers
Unless you work solely for yourself, you likely have internal customers on your team and around your company. This can show up in many forms and different types of relationships.
TWO PEERS WITHIN A TEAM
On a marketing team, the person who distributes the emails depends on the writers and designers to get the emails written and designed. If the writer is late getting the copy to the coder, the email may go out late or with errors because the coder was rushed. Many peer-to-peer relationships are classic examples of internal customer relationships.
INTERNAL IT DEPARTMENT AND COMPANY EMPLOYEES
Employees rely on internal IT help desk departments to ensure their computers and technology are running smoothly. Without working technology, employees couldn’t do their jobs and help customers, and the entire company would suffer. IT help desks should ask for relational and transactional feedback from their internal customers to understand where they can improve.
HUMAN RESOURCE DEPARTMENT TO EMPLOYEES AND OTHER DEPARTMENTS
Every employee is an internal customer to HR departments because they provide employee relations, training, benefits, and mediation. They also serve other departments as they recruit and hire for various positions. The relationship goes two ways because other departments also serve them by complying with HR rules and aiding in the hiring process.
Like interactions with your external customers, service to employees can be either something that improves or degrades their experience. Organizations need to recognize that these experiences have an impact, are measurable, and therefore can be improved.
Managing internal CX to drive EX
Deploying an effective internal CX program starts with the understanding that we need to understand the customer experiences an employee has within the workplace, and identify where gaps in their experience exist. This requires a cultural understanding that employees serve each other, and specific functions depend on each other to do their work.
Below are practical ways you can start to foster an environment that embraces and maximizes internal CX.
1. START WITH FEEDBACK
Organizations need to identify where key customer interactions occur for employees. Once these critical moments are identified, journey mapping is a great way to outline from start to end what this experience is like for an employee.
This will allow you to understand where breakdowns in the experience may occur, and in turn - where you may need additional feedback from employees to find a solution. For example, if the IT Help Desk phone line is consistently an experience that seems to cause employee frustration the organization may need to collect employee feedback after this interaction to understand what is making it unsuccessful.
Getting employee feedback in the moment of a transaction, similar to a customer transactional study, allows you to get timely and specific feedback on where a service process breaks down.
2. TAKE ACTION & USE CLOSED-LOOP FOLLOW-UP
Most external CX departments use closed-loop feedback to turn a negative interaction into a positive experience.
This principle can also be applied to internal CX as well. Developing a company culture that seeks and appreciates feedback creates a healthy work environment. For instance, if an employee depends on HR for benefits support and does not get the answer they need in an initial call, HR can initiate a ticket to ensure the employee gets resolution in a timely fashion.
3. CREATE SERVICE STANDARDS
Creating internal customer service standards will give all employees a baseline for how they should be operating. For instance, your IT help desk team may have a standard that each request gets acknowledged within 4 hours. These service standards help everyone in your company or team feel valued, sets an example for others to follow, and it sets a precedent for the time it takes to complete a task.
4. CELEBRATE SUCCESS
Employees are motivated when they’re celebrated and will repeat those behaviors. When a team, individual, or department displays great internal CX, use it as a training moment to teach other employees about internal CX best practices.
It’s important to note that creating outstanding internal CX starts at the top with managers, directors, and C-level executives. As employees see their leaders living out these principles, they will be more likely to latch onto the culture and adopt them themselves. Understanding the power of an internal CX culture helps create an enjoyable and productive work environment.
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