Customer satisfaction as we know is an integral part of a successful business. The other day when I was talking to one of my friends over a coffee, he told me about the kind of problems he was facing with his business. To my understanding the core problem wasn’t with the internal or the external customers, but had a lot to do with the satisfaction levels.
Being a small business such issues needs to be addressed on top priority failing to which can lead to huge losses with no guaranteed recovery. Plus, with the massive mediums available to access Internet has given people with the opportunity to share information with the world in no time. It’s probably due to this fact that a lot of websites that ask for customer reviews have blossomed just recently.
If a customer posts positive reviews then such sites can be a boon for business but according to observations a satisfied customer would talk about his/er experience with a company to three people, while an unsatisfied individual would speak out to nearly three thousand. So imagine the kind of damage one unsatisfied customer can cause to a business, even a few angry customers can damage the brand’s reputation to a large extent.
So, who exactly is an internal customer? Well, anyone working within an organization is an internal customer. He is the individual that works for you and you work for him, it’s a two way process. Within an ideal organization, everyone depends on each other irrespective of the hierarchy.
If a company is to be run well, it’s highly important to have equilibrium with the satisfaction levels of internal as well as external customers. After-all it’s your internal customers who are constantly in contact with the external customers. They are the face of the company.
Customer service and satisfaction is a combined effort. Taking example from the web hosting industry, unless the technical support department makes fast provisioning of the server, the sales and the marketing teams cannot commit so to the prospects.
Where most companies usually choose the traditional pyramidal structure where at its peak is the CEO while the base covers the employees while in the middle are the people from the management. In such a model, the instructions travel from apex to the base.
But there are a few organizations who can be said to be smarter because they follow a similar pyramid model, but in this model the pyramid is inverted. The base is exactly at the top while the apex is at the bottom. Such a model was first introduced by the former president of Scandinavian Airlines, Jan Carlzon in 1980’s. The core of his theory was the decentralization of the organization.
According to this model, top priority is given to external customers which the upper management including the CEO still formed the apex but now at the bottom of the hierarchy.
Most top organizations today that hold a very good reputation for customer service have a strong connection between internal customers where everyone supports everyone just like a closely woven web. Every string in such a web is important; any effect on even a single string causes an overall impact on the entire structure. And the same is reflected when dealing with external customers.
Organizations that have strong policies for customer satisfaction find it easier to attract new and retain old customers (internal as well as external).
The key to success lies in your own hands, choose a model that rightly matches the expectations of your customers and ensure a smooth business continuity for years to come.