It's your customer service team's job to delight customers and keep them satisfied. But, if they're in charge of customers, who's making sure your employees stay happy, too?
Employee satisfaction is nearly as important as customer satisfaction. When your employees are happy, they provide better service to your customers. When they're upset or unmotivated, their performance suffers as well. Keeping your team fueled and ready is a crucial component of managing an effective customer service team.
While service and support reps provide customers with external customer service, internal customer service refers to the experience employees have when interacting with your business. For example, if your company provides an IT desk, that would be considered internal customer service.
In this post, we'll break down internal customer service and list out some best practices you should consider when supporting employees at your business.
What Is Internal Customer Service?
When employees have a problem that's impeding their workflow, they reach out to an internal customer service team for help. Internal customer service refers to the services your business provides to its employees. These interactions aren't customer-facing and involve two or more team members.
The most notable example of internal customer service is an IT desk. If an employee has a technical problem, they can reach out to the IT team for support. The IT team will analyze the issue and come up with a solution that fits the employee's short- and long-term needs. This type of immediate response ensures problems are resolved and employees can get back to work as soon as possible.
Why Internal Customer Service Is Important
Roadblocks will happen at any business, but internal customer service provides consistency for your team's productivity. It's the internal service team's job to make sure your employees have everything they need to complete their goals. That way, they spend less time troubleshooting and more time working with customers.
And, when your employees can stay focused on their goals your customers will be happier, too. Customer interactions will be smoother and employees will provide better service since there are fewer distractions in their workflow. Your support and service teams will work more confidently knowing they're being supported as well.
Now that we're familiar with internal customer service, let's go over some best practices you should consider when implementing it at your business.
Internal Customer Service Best Practices
1. Consider the purpose of the team.
Whether it's an IT desk, Human Resources department, or another form of internal customer service, these teams need to understand their role in the organization. Their job is to maintain the backend of the business so marketing, sales, customer service, and product management teams can achieve their goals. There may only be a handful of these employees at your company, but they're crucial to your organization's success.
2. Publish a daily schedule for your service desk.
A daily schedule lets employees know when they can access your service desk. This is important because it prevents stressful interactions with your internal teams.
For example, if a support rep is working and suddenly their computer crashes, they need to set expectations for the customer. If your internal knowledge base doesn't contain your service desk's schedule, the rep can't provide the customer with an accurate timeline. That could easily result in a poor customer review and potentially churn.
3. Set clear expectations.
Just like how support reps set expectations for customers, internal teams should do the same for employees. When an employee has a problem, they should be given a specific timeline for when it will be resolved. Even if the answer isn't ideal, it's important to be transparent so employees can plan their workflow accordingly.
4. Adopt customer service tools.
For many businesses, customer service tools can assist both internal and external teams. Internal teams can use these features to process employee requests and complete daily tasks. And, if both teams use the same tools, it's easier to share information because everyone is familiar with the software.
5. Keep a conversational tone.
Since these teams work with employees and internal stakeholders, they can skip some formalities when it comes to communication. Of course, they should address stakeholders in an appropriate, professional way, but they don't have to communicate the same way they would with a customer. In fact, using a casual, friendly tone will build a stronger rapport with your employees.
6. Be cognizant of employee goals.
While internal teams should be friendly, they should also be aware of what the employee is trying to accomplish. If the issue is important or time-sensitive, they should react immediately and create a short-term solution. If it's a problem that keeps popping up, they should look into options that will prevent the issue in the long run. Identifying and reacting to goals will help internal teams effectively solve problems in an efficient and organized way.
7. Create internal service standards.
Internal service standards are like daily metrics for internal teams. You can measure things like average response time, average handling time, and which hours of the day your team is busiest. Gathering and analyzing this data can help you improve your internal service features.
Another standard you can measure is employee satisfaction. Feedback collection tools like NPS® surveys and anonymous reviews can show how employees feel about their internal teams. This can help you identify and correct roadblocks that are impeding your organization's success. And, internal team members will be more motivated knowing they're being measured on the employee's experience.
8. Provide self-service support options.
Some employees may have trouble accessing your internal customer service teams even when they're available. For example, if a remote salesperson breaks their computer, they may not be able to bring it to your IT desk. By the time it does get to your service team, there's no telling how long it will take to fix it. All this time, the employee is losing sales because they can't use their computer or access their contacts.
For these cases, your business should provide self-service support options. This could be an internal knowledge base, a virtual assistant, or even a community page where employees share ideas. These tools help employees solve their problems without having to reach out to your internal service teams.
9. Explain how problems happen and how to solve them.
Often, internal team members are the subject-matter experts in their role at the company. So, after your team resolves a case, they should tell employees how the issue occurred and what they did to fix it. Not only does this assure the problem is solved, but it also shows employees how to correct it in case they encounter it again. Many internal problems result from user error, so educating employees on how to fix them can prevent common roadblocks from reoccurring.
10. Support multiple communication channels.
It shouldn't be difficult to contact your internal service teams. Each team should at least have an email and phone number that employees can use for communication. The best internal teams have ticketing systems that record service requests as well as their solutions. That way, you can document every internal interaction and refer to past cases when they become relevant in the future.
For more ways to improve service at your company, read some customer service tips for startups.
Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.
Originally published Aug 16, 2019 8:00:00 AM, updated June 09 2021