When most people picture a customer, they naturally think of the person who buys a company’s products and services. Making that person’s life better and easier is a great way to think of customer service.
But what about internal customer service—the way employees interact with and support others in the company? The best companies make sure their internal customer service is on par with their external customer service.
Suppose you work in IT and somebody’s computer is down. Now they can’t deliver great external service. You might make it your own goal that “No one will be down more than one hour.” Internal service supports external service.
Internal customer service also sets the tone for employee engagement. Each phone call from a colleague should be answered with the same courteous, “How may I help you?” language and tone that external customers receive.
This also has a huge impact on employee engagement. We are the face of the company to each other. If we see a cold and uncaring face when we interact with other employees, we will each naturally come to see the company itself as cold and uncaring. It’s hard to stay engaged in your work when you see your company in that unflattering light.
Engagement is tied directly to productivity, of course, so It’s not just a matter of being “nice.” Upping your internal customer service game can make the difference between a company that founders on the rocks and smooth sailing.
A study by the American Society for Training and Development shows how important accountability is for success. If you hear a good idea, there’s a 10 percent probability that you’ll actually do it. Deciding to do it moves the likelihood to 25 percent. Commit to someone else, and the likelihood rises to 65 percent.
But if you make a specific accountability appointment with that person, complete with deadline and deliverables, the likelihood of actually doing it shoots up to 95 percent.
That’s what accountability does for success.
There is something so powerful about knowing that someone else knows what you have committed to, even if they don’t say a word. If you make a commitment to Steve, every time you walk by Steve’s office you’ll find yourself wondering whether he is wondering how far along you are on that project.
Of course we can always find a lame excuse to avoid that accountability. “I was too busy.” “There isn’t enough time in the day.” “I tried my best.” “The supplier is a jerk.” “I sent an email and didn’t get a reply.”
If having an excuse is the goal, we will never fail. All you need is a little imagination. But your career will be short and stressful if you don’t understand that “results rule”—and excuses shouldn’t ever be uttered IF you want any respect from your boss or team. To rock your job, build accountability systems for yourself and for those around you. That’s where REAL success happens.
While my son was in India, he called to say, “Mom, you wouldn’t believe how different it is here. There are cars six deep, all blowing their horns and driving around people who are sleeping in the street, missing them by inches, with cows running up and down the road between all of it. And there are no road signs at all, and no lines on the roads!”
That pattern of behavior describes most workplaces! They have their own traffic jams and people sleeping in the way, right? And they have their own version of cows running up and down the street. And worst of all is that last observation—no instructions, no signs, and no lines.
Imagine if you woke up this morning and the streets on the way to work were like my son described—no lines on the road, no street lights, no stop signs and no laws?
That’s what your workplace would be like if it had no agreements.
Fortunately, there’s no such workplace. Workplaces are filled with agreements, formal and informal, spoken and unspoken. Some are obvious—be on time, don’t steal, don’t divulge confidential information.
Some others are less obvious but just as serious. Don’t undermine others with passive-aggressive behavior, for example. If you don’t have an agreement to disallow those unhealthy behaviors, then you have an agreement to allow them.