One of the questions I received from blog readers is how customer satisfaction techniques can be used for internal customers.

Why are internal customers important?

Most organizations are divided into departments that  exist to support a corporations internal users rather the external customers. In fact, all internal departments should look at who they serve and who serves them.  Some  internal support groups feel that the internal customers HAVE to deal with them so they have little or no incentive to improve. Others realize that they exist to serve their customers and if they don’t serve them well, the internal customer can find other alternatives to get the service they need and the internal service provider may find their department unfunded in the future.

On the other hand, excellent service  provided to internal customers, is gets recognition for both the workers and the managers; the business is more efficient and effective resulting in better financial results and end user customer  satisfaction.  So for the health and welfare of both the internal customer and the internal service provider, customer satisfaction best practices should be followed between internal groups.

What Customer Satisfaction techniques are relevant to internal users?

There are 3 main areas of best practices between internal groups.

1. What is expected of the organization?

Why does the service provider’s organization exist? What is its business function? Who does it take it’s input from and who does it serve? For example, an internal support desk for end users may exist in a bank to support front line employees on complicated or non standard procedures. An internal support desk might help personal computer users. A internal sales processing department may take orders from sales representatives and put them into the ordering system and track their progress. Each of these groups needs to determine  why it exists, who it serves and what is expected of them. Expectations may take the form of response time, accuracy, ability to make a recommendation to resolve a problem, etc..

2. Key Performance Indicators

Most often the measurements include surveys of users and some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as volume of calls, response times, ability to resolve problems quickly or some form of measurement of productivity.

3. End User Surveys

A survey after a ‘transaction’ is often used to determine satisfaction with support based calls emails or other form of interaction. In many cases, not all end user activities are surveyed depending on the size of the organization, one in 10 may be sufficient. The survey can be a phone based survey, a email survey, or some other software based survey. The main question of the survey generally revolves around overall satisfaction with the transaction or process. Other detailed questions may be added to gain insight into key drivers of the overall satisfaction question.

How to Set up a Customer Satisfaction system for internal customers

1. Expectation Review Cycle

In many organizations, an annual and sometimes semi annual review cycle takes place to set expectations for the upcoming period based on key strategies of the business. So for example, if new technology is to be introduced this year, there may be additional staffing needed during the transition period. A best practice is to document the expectations of the executive or executives funding the support organization at year beginning or semi annually. Key milestones should be discussed and the metrics and survey techniques to be used.

As the year progresses, reporting based on the expectations and measurements  should be provided to senior management and reviewed with the support organization staff.

At the end of the year another best practice is to meet with sponsoring executives and the support organization to review the report card. What were the expectations and were they met, exceeded or not met.

2.Management system for  Key Performance Indicators and Survey Results.

A management system of reviews of Key Performance Indicators needs to be put in place, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually..depending on the nature of the organization.  Survey data  should be included when it is available. Some survey processes will report monthly, some will report quarterly or in several waves during the year.

3. Social Media sentiment.

Some organizations set up internal social media sites so end users can provide feedback more quickly than the survey process provides.

What to do next.

Implement an Internal Customer Satisfaction program

1. Get Started. If your organization provides support to others, request a discussion with your key end user management and set out expectations and metrics.

If this is the first time, create a ‘baseline’ for key indicators. Use industry standards (benchmarks)  if they exist or track key indicators for a few months, with no objectives to meet until the base line can be established.

2. Document the expectations and get everyone to agree (get a signature on the document)

3. Communicate the key expectations to the support organization and include the key indicators to be used. Engage employees through their performance plans to gain alignment to the objectives of the organization

4. Start measuring and reporting regularly both to management and to the support organization. Report both expectations and actual achievements.

5. Close out the year (or half year) with a review of what was accomplished and what is still left to do. Be honest.

6. Reward and recognize those employees within the support organization who have contributed to the success.

7. Investigate failures or missed indicators

8. Revamp new objectives for the next year or period.

9. Communicate within your organization the success you achieved, your challenges and the expectations for the next year.

Summary.

Measuring Internal user satisfaction is similar to measuring customer satisfaction. Many of the processes are the same. The main difference is the opportunity to develop the relationship with the organization’s funding sponsors and maintain an on going dialogue of progress, achievements and challenges.

Feel free to share how your organization handles satisfaction of internal users. Leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

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