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Identifying Your Internal Customers

The customer service chain

You may deal with customers directly or you may work with colleagues who in turn serve customers. You might even work with people who serve other colleagues who then serve customers. No matter where you’re in the chain, you’re contributing to the quality of service the customer receives in the end.

When internal relationships break down, the customer service chain is broken. Often, customers’ perceptions of a company’s service delivery are dependent on the way it treats its internal customers.

Think of the colleagues you interact with as internal customers and internal customer service providers who contribute to create products and services that external customers will pay for.

The customer service chain contains several elements.

Internal customers — Internal customers are people who rely on you for information or to perform certain tasks so they can do their job. Basically, internal customers include just about everyone in your company, who work together to satisfy the expectations of external clients.

Internal customer service providers — Internal customer service providers are people you rely on to find or provide information, perform certain tasks, or help you in some way to perform your own tasks. You’re their internal customer and you receive a service from them.

External customers — External customers are people you interact with over the phone, over the counter, or in your office, who don’t belong to your organization. They’re the ones who pay for your products or services, and keep your business running.

Internal customer service relationships

Unless you’re right at the top of the customer service chain or only deal with external customers, you’re probably both an internal customer and an internal service provider. You have some form of customer service relationship with most of your colleagues. So it’s important to explore the nature of these relationships.