Technician Ralph requested for a salary/employment certificate from his administration department. He wanted to buy a vehicle that was selling at a special price, as it was the last few units left with the showroom. While Ralph was anxious to get the certificate ASAP, it actually took 2 whole weeks to get it on hand.
As per procedure it required accounts to confirm salary and deductions. This took a good four days as they had a system problem. IT was neck deep sorting other system issues. By the time accounts confirmed, the admin staff went on sick leave. The certificate was hence ready early next week. When the administration manager finally found time from his busy schedule to sign the letter, he found that Ralph's employee number was incorrect. He sent it back for correction. When it came corrected, he was in training. By the time it was signed and handed over, two weeks had passed.
During this period Ralph was struggling to hold on to the vehicle, while closely following up with his office for the letter. Incorrect feedback sent him bouncing between admin and accounts without understanding the real reasons for the delay. Constant follow-up made him an irritant for admin and accounts. A letter that should have been ready in three days, took fourteen days. His performance at work dropped for, he was busy worrying about the certificate and dreaming about his vehicle. After all the running around, he could not manage to hold on to the vehicle and eventually lost it. It took him a good 3 months and a much dearer sum before he settled for another vehicle.
Since the earlier certificate was 3 months old he was back knocking at the doors of admin dept for a fresh certificate. Here was a hapless customer totally dependant on his service provider, the admin and accounts departments. A customer who had no choice. A dissatisfied customer. 'AN INTERNAL CUSTOMER'.
While the salary certificate itself had nothing to do with the external customer, delays from accounts and admin directly reflected on Ralph's output, disturbing the chain of activities and in turn, harmed the organization. He was left with a sour taste and not a very high opinion about his organisation. If only Ralph had received the certificate in time, he would have purchased his dream vehicle at the special price and focused on his work and customers. He would then have sung a different tune.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that 99% of internal customers are taken for granted. 99% of internal customers have no choice but, to endure their service providers. 99% of these service providers unknowingly act as spokes in the wheel towards excellent service delivery.
A CHAIN IS AS STRONG AS ITS WEAKEST LINK. If this is true, then dissatisfaction from external customers stems from a chain of disgruntled internal customers weakening the link and allowing external customers to break away and go elsewhere.
As in most philosophies, 'the problem is you, the solution is you'. If only one can identify the problem then, solutions are always over the horizon. Statistics show a whooping 68% of dissatisfied customers take their business elsewhere all because they are put off by an employee's attitude. Given this glaring fact, drop whatever you are doing and start looking within your organisation for areas to improve. Internal cleansing reflects in external radiance.
Just as charity begins at home, customer focus also begins at home. Instead of focusing on your external customers, focus on your internal customers. Work on their satisfaction. Check what ticks them. Promote the deserving, consul the needy, reprimand the callous and if required, fire the unproductive employees. A pat on the back works wonders. Streamlining a process increases productivity. Identifying, understanding and providing training helps improve efficiency. Empowerment and working smart helps boost confidence and self esteem.
Get your act together and external customers will join in the act. Clean up the chaos within the organisation and it will soon reflect in satisfied customers. Work on your people and processes and your customers will work on your profits. Look after your internal customers who, will look after your external customers, who, will look after your business and growth.
Disgruntled and dissatisfied internal customers are left with no choice but, to tolerate the service they receive within their organisation. Intentionally or subconsciously this has a serious and snow-balling effect on the 'external customer' who holds the key to any organisations profit and success.
Weed the cancer that stunts your growth. Look within, serve and satisfy the internal customers such that his satisfaction energises him while dealing with his external customers.
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