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Archive for March, 2016

Your Most Important Customer

I recently had rotator cuff surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. What started as a trip to the operating room ended as memorable experience in customer service. While being prepped for surgery and being tended to in the recovery room after the procedure, I was continuously serenaded with the sounds of “Can I help you with that?”, “Why don’t you let me do that?”, “Let me get that for you.”

The interesting thing is those words were not directed at me.

They were the words the employees were using with one another.

(I was listening to this while I was being given the same royal treatment the staff gave each other. This behavior continued after surgery. In recovery, every person on the surgical team stopped by to ask how I was doing.)

As Tyrone, the orderly, was taking me out to the car, I commented on the remarkable way people behaved around one another. “Its just a joy to work here everyday,” he observed.

Identifying Your Most Valuable Customer

Each year corporations in this country spend billions of dollars teaching their employees the importance of customer service. The approaches range from making sure employees are technically knowledgeable to insuring they are being courteous and well mannered. All along they’re missing the people that are truly their most valuable “customers”—the people with whom they work—the “internal customer.” We spend far more time with our coworkers than we ever will with our largest client. Yet, we often treat those around us in ways that would be totally unacceptable with our customers.

What Does Exceptional Internal Customer Service Look Like?

Practicing exceptional internal customer service is really not that hard.

It starts with good manners and basic common courtesy with those around us. “Please,” “Thank you,” “Excuse me,” “May I help you?” and “Good morning” are all examples of the kind of language the people we work with should hear.

“Not now,” “Can’t you see I’m busy,” and “What do you want now?” are phrases we are taught to never use with outside customers that may easily roll off the tongue when dealing with our internal customers.

How many of us would never dream of being late for a customer meeting yet show up late for staff meetings?

How to Become a Company that Delivers Exceptional Internal Customer Service

I often use the phrase “The fish smells from the head down,” meaning values in an organization are formed by people at the top and then filter down.

Like it or not, management leads by example. The people in positions of power are the ones that set the tone.

Managers and supervisors are the people you should look to if you want to create a culture of awareness and concern for others at all levels.

The way to change any behavior is through repetition, reinforcement and reward. If the behavior you desire is not being demonstrated, you will need to practice correction over criticism. Correction is always done privately and lets the person know the behavior you would like. Criticism is often done publicly when one is angry and focuses on what you don’t like. Correction is an infinitely more effective way to change behavior.

If necessary, you may need to repeat the correction. Then when a person begins displaying kind, caring concern for coworkers, make sure you compliment them.

You may even want to let employees vote each week on the coworker who provides the best internal customer service and show some form of recognition.

Learning to recognize others in a positive way could have a profound effect on the success of your business.

Johns Hopkins is recognized year in and year out as one of the best hospitals in the world.

Their exceptional internal customer service has more than a little something to do with that.

CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488