EXPERT COMMENT

Understanding internal customer care experience

What organisations need to learn.

In Summary

•In today’s world, customers have become very discerning owing to the fact that they are more exposed to their rights and demands on quality and value.

•Creating a differentiated culture in the organisation from the leadership desk becomes fundamental in how the employees will treat each other.

East Africa Customer Care Centre, Chief Executive, Pauline Warui/HANDOUT
East Africa Customer Care Centre, Chief Executive, Pauline Warui/HANDOUT

There are enough jokes on social media about the ‘IT Guy’ in every organisation.

The one that is most hilarious is how he is the main keeper of the Wi-Fi password and only gives it to the beautiful girls.

Woe unto you if you are another guy perhaps working in another department or more handsome than him and creating competition in a field he believes he is king.

You will definitely not get the password any time soon. The same is common in many unprofessional organisations.

You cannot dress better than your female boss unless you want to spend your entire career in the trenches.

But why does the internal customer treat each other with so much spite in an organization where they are hired to fulfill only certain tasks?

Who is the internal customer?

The internal customers are stakeholders in an organisation who are mandated to carry out tasks that fulfill the companies vision but can only achieve their goals with the help,cooperation, and collaboration of other staff members.

The internal customer will belong to a department that works independently but needs resources and support from other departments too.

To answer a billing customer query, a customer facing employee will need to get correct information from the finance or credit control team.

This means that the customer-facing employee is now a customer of the finance employee.

But most often than not, the finance employee will act as a harsh employer of the customer-facing staff by being unavailable and rude to the internal employee who needs to meet the external customer's expectations.

Too often, the answer from the finance department will be, and I quote, "Stop disturbing me, the cheque is not ready", aren’t you employed to handle such small matters?

Aren’t you bright enough to understand a simple billing system?

Other examples will be the famous IT Guy who needs to reset a password but works at the speed of snail to ensure that he exploits the instant need to be recognised for his great achievement of making a password work.

The sheer magic of it all makes him the smuggest provider of internal or is it an eternal joy to his colleague who needs to submit his report on time.

An unhealthy organizational culture changes the perspective of employees in providing a good experience internally.

If the reward and recognition system is skewed and subjective, the element of unfair competition for attention and compensation sets in.

Employees start undercutting each other instead of focusing on the organisation's goals and vision. They become politicians who drive what they deem fit for their survival instead of driving the set goals.

They undercut one another and open doors to very poor customer experience to the external recipients in turn affecting the brand value and reputation.

Customer experience whether internal or external defines how you leave others feeling post the service you have provided for them and if that investment you made in the relationship will have them coming back for more service or products from your business.

You don’t have to be a formal business to offer a great customer experience but individual to individual relationships create the foundation for offering service.

In today’s world, customers have become very discerning owing to the fact that they are more exposed to their rights and demands on quality and value.

Creating a differentiated culture in the organisation from the leadership desk becomes fundamental in how the employees will treat each other.

The writer is the CEO of the East Africa Customer Care Centre (EACCC).