Moving our bodies from point A to point B requires the use of our two legs working together to achieve this simple task. If one or the other of the two legs does not fully support the body, or if one does not make a full and even stride, then the act can be diminished by varying degrees.
The metaphor holds true for your organization and its internal customers as well. Internal customers are those people who make up the other departments that work with you inside your business. For example, accounts-receivable, sales, production, finance and marketing are each other’s customers. For your organization to function smoothly, people among departments must communicate clearly, organize tasks and timelines, and implement or take “action” on these tasks.
The more effective people are at serving each other, the smoother their processes will be, and they will achieve better results (i.e., production, efficiencies, and profits). Likewise, the more efficient a person is with “leg movements,” the better they will be at walking, jogging, and even running. If they take this act seriously and become expert in this area, they may even end up running faster than others, which is, of course the objective in business — outpacing the competition.
Here are suggestions on how to provide stellar internal customer service:
1. Be aware of what you think about yourself and others. Behavior follows thought. Are your thoughts helping you and building you up, or are your thoughts hurting you and making circumstances more difficult? Practice self-respectful thoughts.
2. Communicate clearly and often. Ask for clarification when you are unsure of what is conveyed through verbal and non-verbal means.
3. Talk face-to-face or by phone to others instead of using e-mail. The benefits of this process far outweigh the time saved by using e-mail. Too much e-mail can be a “crutch” and seriously impact the fluidity of a group of people working to achieve common goals.
4. Conduct department-to-department staff meetings so that people can ask each other for information, clarification and process refinement, etc. It’s like “speed dating” for departments. For instance, gather staff from each department and give those people 10-15 minutes to ask people from another department for what they need or could provide to make their processes or organization function more smoothly. In other words, this is what we need from you. What do you need from us to make your jobs easier, more effective and fun?
Prioritize these ideas, assign who will do what by when, and then monitor in thirty days to determine results and make adjustments. In fewer than 60 minutes, the people in both departments will have gathered tons of precise information and a new outlook on their colleagues.
5. Talk about the white elephant in the corner that everyone knows about and talks about in their “cliques” but doesn’t address directly or in formal meetings.
These “TABOO” topics are the “real problems” that keep departments and companies from running faster than they currently do and could if they learned to overcome them.
Everyone knows about these white elephant topics and the professional “manipulators”, so the quicker these topics are brought to the table the quicker the organization can find solutions to them and move forward. I am not saying this process is going to be fun. All I’m saying is that I’ve done this HUNDREDS of times and in every case 99% of the people are much more productive and happier. and as a result, the organization can dump the anchors and start moving swiftly again. (the one percent that aren’t happy are the manipulators that either have to change their game to get along or are forced out).
This part of the process is often very difficult to decide on and implement. But like surgery, everyone is much healthier after the fact and the business and people within it will fly once this ball and chain topic or person isn’t keeping it grounded.
Kelly Graves, CEO
The Corporate Therapist
Internal Business Solutions, Inc.™