In the words of South Park’s Terrance and Phillip, maybe your coworkers are “not your buddy, friend,” and “not your friend, guy,” but they do deserve the same level of respect as your customers. It’s important to not only serve those on the outside that patronize your company, but to serve your “internal customers” as well.
As you can probably imagine, this is particularly crucial for those who work in customer support! Your colleagues may have just as many questions as your clients and they are just as important – if not more important – to help.
That’s the Way the Company Crumbles
I mean, it’s just good form to be respectful of your coworkers. Plus, you never know when you’re going to need their help. Ignore a concern of someone from Human Resources, for example, and your name will be remembered. Don’t answer the questions of a subordinate, and they’ll view you as someone they can’t trust or respect. It only takes one person to make a company crumble.
All the departments – and/or individual people – within your business are inter-connected. IT departments, for example, are increasingly crucial to online support desks and representatives. You may bow down and view your IT rep as an all-knowing being, but perhaps this particular guru doesn’t have access to everything she needs without your help. Maybe there’s a question that only you can answer. But if you don’t make this very significant internal customer a priority when a question arises, she may not be quick to run to your aid the next time your computer flashes the ever-dreaded blue-screen of death. And that, as you know, would be a tragedy.
Let’s say your most dedicated customer support rep needs urgent assistance from IT to solve an external customer’s issue, but IT deems the request low-priority. The support rep knows that if he can’t find a solution to the problem, he could lose the customer. So he pulls out what’s left of his thinning hair while googling the issue, scanning IT forums and reading what looks to him like a combination of jibberish and Swahili, while IT enjoys a few rounds of Words with Friends.
Meanwhile, emails are stacking up for the support rep to answer, he’s still not discovered the solution to the initial request, and minutes, perhaps even hours, have passed—all because one person neglected to treat a colleague with the same level of respect as an external customer.
Make sure that each and every member of your team knows what you expect of them in the way of internal customer support, whether there are three of you in the office or thirty. Don’t let anyone’s time or energy get wasted on poor service.
Remember this ridiculous board game from when you were a kid? It’s kind of how your office works. Each individual department is like a different component of the nearly-impossible-to-put-together mouse trap contraption. If you’re missing just one piece, the contraption will fail to work. But work together and the machine will capture mice – or the hearts of clients!
A Positive Work Environment
Remember, being a customer support representative is a tough job, and many customers will forget their manners in emails, so your reps will get little in the way of pleases and thank yous. Don’t forget to thank them for all their hard work. We’ll offer more ideas on this in the weeks to come, but it’s not too hard to offer a pat on the back for reps that help you and other internal customers. In fact, anyone (including Human Resources, IT, facilities and the bagel guy) who offers service with a smile among their colleagues is a definite candidate for employee of the month in my book because they’re helping to foster a more positive work environment, devoid of grudges.
Now that you understand the importance of internal customer support, get back to work and show your coworkers just how much you care!