No company can prosper without customers because it is the customer who provides the basis for a company’s objectives. Customers do not only refer to people who enter a company to purchase its products, but it also includes individuals who work every day to help an organization realize its objectives. Therefore, customers can either be internal or external depending on the roles they play in an organization. The manner in which these two types of customers are treated affect quality in an organization (Li, 2003).
External customers are people who use a company’s products and services but they are not part of the organization. For instance, in a retail store, external customers are individuals who enter the store to purchase items. Conversely, internal customers are members of an organization who rely on assistance from others in order to fulfill their duties. Employees are a very good example of internal customers. Internal and external customers are equally critical to the feasibility of every company. External customers assist a company to increase revenue through their purchases. This revenue is very important for the survival of the company. An organization should try to satisfy the needs of its external customers because satisfied external customers will always make repeat purchases and bring new customers to the company. Although internal customers do not directly purchase the items offered by their employers, they play a big role in promoting business success. Therefore, for a company to succeed, it must learn to treat both internal and external customers well (O’Riordan and Humphreys, 2003).
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Internal customer service determines how external customers are being treated. A company that treats its internal customers with a lot of respect and kindness is likely to do the same to its external customers. Internal customer service promotes effective communication in an organization and encourages meaningful interaction between a company and its external customers. Employee training is one of the ways through which a company can encourage internal customer service. Training helps to increase job satisfaction, which directly impacts external customer satisfaction. It is important to evaluate employees’ efforts at every level in order to identify their problems and come up with ideas on how to solve them. This allows for more productivity and better external customer service (Li, 2003).
When treating internal and external customers, a company should pay attention to their needs as well as expectations. Peoples’ needs and expectations are always varied and they will only be satisfied if a company learns to identify them. According to O’Riordan and Humphreys (2003), needs and expectations of external customers can be fulfilled by providing great service to internal customers. A company that asks customers what they want will be able to understand what is important for them. For example, by asking employees what they need, it is easy to understand their concerns and device the best ways of solving them. Similarly, a company will produce products that external customers need if it takes its time to ask what they want.
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Additionally, a company finds it easier to solve customers’ needs if it tells them what they should do to get the services they need. For instance, internal employees should be informed that they will achieve the desired goals only if they have a proper plan of tasks that they are required to perform. Likewise, a company finds it easier to serve external customers if it let them know in advance of what is expected of them as they try to build a strong business relationship. Moreover, a company that handles both internal and external customers with respect will maintain a strong relationship with them. This includes responding to all emails sent by both types of customers and keeping them informed about changes that directly affect business operations as well as those that affect sales. It is also important for a company to heed boundaries when dealing with its internal and external customers (Li, 2003).
For a company, improved internal customer service boosts employee morale which has a positive impact on quality. When workers from one department come out to assist an employee from another department, they enhance teamwork and mutual cooperation. Eventually, this will benefit external customers since employees will feel more satisfied and work hard to produce products that meet their expectations. Making workers feel that they are part of an organization is a good way of increasing internal customer service (Doane and Sloat, 2003). Both internal and external customers benefit when an organization becomes proactive on how to avoid hindrance to productivity. For example, a manager should act very fast to resolve a complaint for equipment failure. This is because the manner in which internal customers are treated will greatly affect how external customers are treated. The manager should have a schedule of how he should check whatever is going on in all departments just to ensure that internal customers have what they need to produce quality products.
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All customers feel that their problems should be solved as quickly as possible, but to the benefit of the whole company. There is great need for every service provider to understand the priorities of its external customers. In order to intuitively understand the priorities of external customers, a manager must have discussions with the customers. The key to a great relationship with external customers is keeping promises and timely product delivery. A company will perform better if it anticipates the needs of its customers and using every means possible to meet those needs (Doane and Sloat, 2003).
Internal customer service creates opportunities for expanding networks with people available to assist a company in a number of situations. The more managers meet to discuss various issues with employees, they find a good opportunity of discussing options for advancement. These advancements are always done in order to benefit external customers and the company in the end. Business owners may have a tendency of focusing only on external customers who come to purchase their products are services. However, they fail to recognize the big role played by internal customers in promoting business success (Li, 2003). By considering employees as very important assets of the company, managers can take appropriate steps in improving internal relations and training employees on how to handle external customers. Companies should treat internal and external customers the same way because they are equally important for business success. When internal customers are satisfies on the job, they are motivated to produce quality products and service that meet the needs of external customers. However, when there is poor internal customer service in a company, quality will be affected and external customers will go away (Doane and Sloat, 2003).
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