Have you ever contacted a company to chase a response only to be told that another department is investigating the issue, but no update has been received? Or perhaps you’ve contacted a company to make a complaint but have been passed from one department to another, without anyone taking ownership?

Both scenarios sign there’s a communication gap across teams and departments. Also, that there are employees who perhaps don’t fully understand they serve customers. Perhaps, because it’s not their job to speak to customers.

This article will guide you through some key steps that can be taken towards achieving internal service excellence. This is crucial to deliver external service excellence

Service Excellence Training for all

While direct customer-facing roles are crucial in the customer service industry, the backbone of an exceptional CX also lies with back-office teams. When support teams understand their part in the service delivered to customers, and have strong communication and service skills, you create a powerful ripple effect that reaches your customers.

For example, what if an insurance admin team member, who doesn’t speak directly to customers, is feeling demotivated, and doesn’t fully understand the part they play in the end service delivery? Then, their negativity and lack of understanding affects their work. This leads to delays, errors, and frustrated customers waiting for updated policy documents. 

A month later, the insurance claims assessor receives a call from a disgruntled customer who wants to submit a claim but notices an error on the policy which delays the claim. The customer isn’t happy, and the claims assessor has a difficult conversation to manage.

The claims team member has difficulty contacting the admin team member and is promised a call back, which doesn’thappen. Specific timescales are therefore not provided to the customer as the claims team member is unclear how long it will take to rectify the error.

It is clear in this scenario that service to the customer has been affected because of gaps in the internal service.This sends a clear message to all teams – that they are all an important piece of the service excellence jigsaw puzzle. Have you ever tried to complete a jigsaw only to discover a piece missing? I bet you were frustrated and disappointed. That’s how your customers feel when there is a piece of the service puzzle missing.

Service Excellence training suggestions

The Why 

I recommend an introductory session to help teams understand what it takes to deliver service excellence. Emphasis why internal service = external service excellence, and to recognise the importance of collaboration, ownership and a service mindset. 

Communication Skills

It’s important that every employee develops strong written and verbal communication skills. This will ensure internal face-face, phone and email conversations with colleagues are effective, adapted to different communication styles and are communicated to the right people, at the right time. 

Feedback Skills

Giving praise and constructive feedback to colleagues is an important part of building trust and open communication amongst teams. 

Mistakes can lead to frustration and even damage internal relationships when colleagues deliver feedback in a negative manner. Equipping everyone with the confidence and skills to deliver constructive feedback to each othercreates an open conversation culture, builds internal relationships and results in quicker resolution of issues and errors.

Emotional Intelligence

There is much research to support the benefits of developing Emotional Intelligence on performance, career progression, and productivity. Helping everyone recognise the impact of emotions on their daily performance and thereby developing effective strategies to manage emotions such as frustration and disappointment ensure service isn’t negatively impacted when employees are having a challenging or ‘bad’ day. Empathy is also a critical emotional intelligence skill, which helps teams develop a greater level of empathy for each other. 

Service Excellence

Research by UKCSI shows customer satisfaction is continuing to decline. The link between excellent service and customer loyalty, trust and company profitability are evident. Bringing teams together to review and discuss opportunities to enhance service and recognise steps that need to be taken, helps everyone feel valued for their contribution as well as providing an opportunity to feel part of the organisation’s vision and mission. 

Employees who have a strong sense of purpose want to deliver their very best service every day, as opposed to feeling they are being told to! Gallup research shows that just 10% improvement in employee’s connection with the mission or purpose of the organisation, leads to an 8.1% decrease in turnover and a 4.4% increase in profitability.

Cultivating a culture of collaboration

Teams and Department often focus on their own objectives, tasks and responsibilities. But, often without understanding the full impact of their decisions and actions on other teams and depts. My Customer.com recent survey shows 40% of employees report they feel siloed because different departments have their own agendas. 

The reality is that there aren’t any physical walls creating silos in organisations. Silos are a mentality, which creates a culture of departments choosing not to share information or to collaborate.

Steps organisations can take to break down silos:

  • Job Shadowing is a great opportunity for teams across different departments to build stronger relationships, develop a greater level of empathy for each other’s roles and develop a wider understanding of how their roles impact each other. When back-office teams spend time with customer service teams, they hear customer queries and complaints from a different perspective.
  • Implement a “buddy system” where employees from different departments are paired together to collaborate on projects or provide support, promoting cross-team relationships and mutual learning.
  • Organise cross-departmental “lunch and learn” sessions where employees can share personal stories, challenges and experiences, fostering empathy and understanding among colleagues from different backgrounds.
  • Recognise and reward employees who proactively identify and address issues that impact multiple teams, demonstrating initiative and problem-solving skills.

Leadership Actions

Leaders at all levels play an instrumental role in developing and inspiring internal service excellence. Below are some key steps leaders can take: 

  • If leaders want to ensure the ‘internal service excellence’ message is understood and demonstrated by all, it’simportant to develop a balanced approach towards measuring individual and team objectives. Avoid focusing predominantly on measuring ‘What’ is achieved by team members i.e. Quantitative metrics, as this can lead to competitive behaviour and a reluctance to collaborate and share knowledge with others. Develop a more balanced approach by also measuring ‘How’ teams achieve their outputs i.e. Qualitative measures through demonstrating company values & service excellence behaviours. This communicates a clear message that Leading by Example is as important as achieving the quantitative metrics.
  • Leaders should regularly communicate the importance of cross-team collaboration and recognition of employees who exemplify teamwork and cooperation in company-wide meetings and communications.

In summary, the starting place for any organisation to deliver service excellence to customers, is to develop internal service excellence, where all teams have a ‘service’ mindset, they recognise colleagues as internal customers and fully understand the part they play in the company’s mission

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