Our Thoughts

Customer service and organizational performance

Posted by David Manyanza on Nov 20 2014

In any organization every employee is serving someone. Every employee has customers to serve. Customers are the very reason for everyone's employment. For each employee, the most important thing is not knowing what to do but knowing what service to deliver to one's customers. It is very easy for employees to get swamped into implementing activities without clarity of the customers they serve and the service they deliver. Knowing the customers and the service to be delivered is key to understanding the value customers and the organization as a whole attach to the employee. Most employees think that they are employed to do things instead of to deliver services.

Understanding one's customers, the services to be delivered and delivering them in the right quantities, quality, time, and in the most economical way possible is key. It is a sure way of not only commanding one's relevance and demand in the organization but also contributing to organizational success. Invariably, an organization has two types of customers; external customers and internal customers. External customers are found in the market place and they are the primary reason for the organization's existence. Any organization exists to create and serve external customers. Organizations create and increase external customers by delivering what they value. On the other hand internal customers are employees that are served by other employees in the same organization. Getting services that meet their value pleases internal customers, reduces friction and creates a harmonious working environment

Employees in any organization serve either internal or external customers. Employees that directly deal with external customers are usually referred to as frontline staff while those who deal with internal customers are referred to as support staff. For the organization to effectively serve its external customers, both employee types must play their part by delivering the services required of them by their respective customers. Total customer service means meeting the needs and expectations of both internal and external customers all the time. However, total customer satisfaction can only be achieved if all employees can work together and assist each other to deliver the common organizational objective of delivering value to external customers.

Yet, too often, customer service is focused exclusively on external customers with hardly any consideration of the role internal customer satisfaction plays in ensuring high organizational performance. The importance of total customer service can be demonstrated by this example from the Finance Department. Frequent failure by the Finance Department to pay employees on time, due to poor performance, may have negative impact on staff including those serving external customers and thus have an adverse effect on external customers that could thwart income, funding and ultimately business or organizational sustainability.

The key premise in customer satisfaction is understanding the needs and meeting or exceeding the expectations of customers. These needs are found in the pre-service, during service and after service phases of the customer service delivery cycle. Good customer service entails departments identifying at the departmental and individual employee levels their external and or internal customers, the services to be delivered, customer expectations and activities to be implemented. Customer expectations represent the standards of service delivery customers want, which fall into three categories of quality, time and delivery method.

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