We know that some businesses have a key focus on their Customer Service, but this focus is very much targeted at external customers. How much better would staff relations and productivity be if businesses applied the same thinking to their internal customers?
At New Chapter Learning we believe that all customer service skills can be distilled under four high level headings. These are termed the 4As. The 4As of Customer Service can be applied equally well to internal customers as to external ones.
So what does that mean in practice?
Firstly let’s look at what the 4As are. What does each ‘A’ stand for?
Let’s look at a couple of examples to bring this principal to life.
How often have you needed help from someone you work with, or even in another department? Did they ever make you feel like an inconvenience, or make you feel uncomfortable about approaching them again?
How useful would it be if your colleagues had had some focused training on creating great first impressions, very similar to what you may already apply to your external customers? How would it be if you and all of your colleagues created a great first impression with each other?
How much more relaxed would you feel in approaching your colleagues with questions if you knew they were always going to be warm and welcoming?
Just as this focus on a warm welcome, when targeted at your customers, means that they look forward to visiting your business again and again, this same approach can be reflected within a business too. Set the standard for the way you greet colleagues when you meet them, whenever you answer the phone to them and respond to emails.
Have you found yourself talking to a colleague and they’ve been focusing on their email or phone rather than giving you 100% of their attention?
Have you found yourself having to repeat yourself or being asked to put your request in an email despite having spent 10 minutes going through a detailed description of what you need? How annoying was it?
Ask yourself, would you ask customers to email you details of the conversation you’ve just had with them? Would you think that this was an acceptable practice? If the answer is No – then why is it acceptable within the business itself?
How useful would it be if your internal customers were afforded the same respect and attention as your external ones? How much more beneficial would your interactions be if everyone within your organisation adopted the same behaviours that you’d expect them to demonstrate with your customers?
How much more efficiently would your queries be dealt with by giving your colleagues your full attention and really listening to and therefore better understanding their request first time around and finding out what they need?
When you manage any distractions, you can demonstrate to your colleagues that you’re there to help and that at that moment they’re important to you.
Where you’re not the best person to deal with their enquiry or request, by having an understanding of your business and who deals with what, means that you’re able to point them in the right direction. This collaborative approach means that they’re more likely to reciprocate and give you help when you need it.
How annoying is it to go to the ‘experts’ in your business to ask a question and they can’t answer it because they’re not up to date with recent changes or pass you onto someone they ‘think’ should be able to help, but actually can’t. Would your customers expect or accept this type of behaviour from you?
Once again, how useful would it be for you and your colleagues to be in a position to be able to do what you need to do for one another and do it right first time?
Have you encountered colleagues who have a negative attitude and either can’t or won’t help? Does this attitude translate into their external customer interactions? How useful is that for you, your customers and ultimately the business you work for?
A ‘can do’ attitude is one of the key components in delivering great customer service and in building relationships. It also makes for a much more productive working relationship.
What could you do to implement the 4As with your colleagues?
1. Set the standard for the way you greet colleagues when they come to see you, when they ring you and even in how you respond to emails.
2. Manage any distractions and make sure they know you’re there to help and where you’re not the best person to help you do your best to point them in the right direction.
3. Make sure the knowledge and skills you need to do your job are well honed and that you understand the processes and procedures associated with the sorts of requests your internal customers will rely on you knowing in order to deal with their enquiries efficiently and effectively.
3. Focus on getting things right first time and if you get it wrong learn from your mistakes and put it right.
4. Have a positive attitude and demonstrate a desire to help your colleagues.
By implementing and practicing the 4As with your colleagues will make it second nature to demonstrate these same behaviours with your customers, delivering great service to whoever you interact with.
New Chapter Learning are a Customer Experience and Training Consultancy giving your customers a reason to love you. http://www.newchapterlearning.co.uk
- The Magic of Owning a Customer-Service Problem (news.terra.com)