Okay, now your business has a strategic plan, built by organizational leadership, clearly establishing the Mission, Vision and Objectives for all to follow. But, does the work stop there? Hardly; now responsible people in all departments must define tactics, oversee implementation, and create measurement tools to evaluate results. Seems logical, doesn’t it? So, is it reasonable to expect that all departments will work together, in harmony, for the benefit of customers; achieving the key objectives listed in the book labeled “Strategic Plan” proudly displayed on the shelf? Perhaps you are thinking, no; not so reasonable.
The value proposition of good customer service needs no defense. All too often, however, organizations rely on one department, or specific persons, to provide that value externally to paying customers, instead of recognizing customer service as a key internal organizational competency, practiced by each member of the organization for the benefit of the organization overall.
In many organizations communication obstacles, like artificial walls, exist between departments, interfering with internal processes and the best laid business plans. These walls may have been under careful construction for years to insulate one department from another one that “just won’t cooperate”. Or perhaps pride creates too much internal departmental focus, limiting an employee’s ability to see the contribution of other departments. Maybe one group of employees simply doesn’t understand what another group does. Whatever the reason, once created, these walls inhibit organizational cooperation and inhibit organization-wide customer service efforts. An understanding of the interdependence between all departments, or employees, is essential to full cooperative effort in an organization. If we limit our thinking to “serving” only the paying customer, we soon won’t have any.
When an organization’s customer service effort is too “externalized” internal communication problems may serve to diminish the value provided. Employees may not be aligned properly to create a mutually beneficial “service chain”. When people in an organization learn to appreciate the critical nature of a system-wide customer service competency they are likely to be more willing to learn the skills necessary to accomplish it. It takes time, work and leadership to create an internal customer service organizational competency. Once begun, the sound of walls crumbling will tell you that you are doing it correctly.