Internal Customer Service: The Secret to Customer Growth and Retention
Strong customer service skills are critical to any organization. The rate by which you retain customers can be linked to the quality of service delivered. Whether it be over the phone, via chat, or during an install, the level of service received, good or bad, will eventually affect your customer’s future spending-which translates to your bottom line.
Many leaders fail to realize, the customer service they provide their employees greatly impacts customer retention. Providing exceptional internal customer care helps to attract and, equally as important, retain employees. And let’s face it, it’s an employee's market out there; employees can afford to have high standards for their employment and employer.
In his Forbes article: Internal Customer Service Best Practices: Ten Principles for a Stronger Company Culture, Micah Solomon states, “By serving our fellow employees, we empower them to serve their customers, and make magic happen.” Most of us are familiar with Richard Branson for his achievement and fortitude as a businessman. If you were to ask him how he attains this success, his response would most likely echo Solomon’s notion. In fact, he is commonly cited for his employees first, customers second philosophy, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
Recently, NCTI surveyed roughly 10,000 of our students largely on what they feel employers need to focus on to keep them satisfied, engaged, and loyal. Elements such as adequate pay and benefits ranked high, no surprise there, but we were astonished to learn the vast majority of our respondents felt their organizations are focusing their efforts in the wrong areas.
The Solution isn’t a Ping Pong Table
Many companies put a lot of importance and effort on fringe benefits, such as relaxed dress codes, in-office cafeterias, and gaming tables-just to name a few. While those are great perks, it’s not what keeps employees motivated and engaged. Of the students we surveyed, 42 percent considered such perks as Not Important with regard to their ideal work environment. Instead, a boss/supervisor they admire, and open/effective communication, rated Very Important by 85 percent of the population surveyed.
The Effect of Respect
A sense of value and respect also ranked high when asked what motivates our respondents to be their best and perform their best. When given options such as money/bonuses, flexible retirement planning, peer recognition, respect, etc., 78 percent placed being treated with respect as Very Important.
In 2013, Harvard Business Review surveyed more than 19,000 people about their job satisfaction. 54 percent of respondents said they didn’t feel they were treated with respect by their leaders. However, those who felt they were treated with respect stated 54 percent better overall well-being, and 89 percent greater job satisfaction which led to a higher probability they would stick with their company.
Train to Retain and Sustain
As the head of a training organization, I would be remiss if I didn’t touch upon the importance of foundational and ongoing training for your teams. Training helps your employees to feel efficient and confident-and that confidence will spill over into how they service your customers. In turn, the confidence displayed by your teams encourages the confidence your customers have in your organization, which will hopefully make them want to stick with you. Furthermore, deliberate and customized career progressions that advance toward promotions, or matriculate toward a college certificate or degree, conveys to your employees you are willing to make an investment in them and their future within your organization.
Bringing it full circle, in Gallup’s 2017 State of the Workplace, their data suggests companies ranked in the top quartile of employee satisfaction achieved “a 10% increase in customer metrics and a 20% increase in sales.” These same companies reported a “41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity.”
Incidentally, these companies also reported 70% fewer safety incidents-food for thought!
As a representative of NCTI, I can tell you the key element by which we truly stand head and shoulders above our competition, is our customer service. Yes, we have an exceptional product, but how we treat and respond to our customers and students, and address their needs, is collectively our company’s priority.
As the CEO of NCTI, I would encourage you to be mindful that as leaders, we work for our employees and not the other way around. They work for our customers, not us. By respecting our employees and by giving them the tools to feel empowered and succeed, we are ensuring synergy between customer growth and employee retention.
Stacey Slaughter is Chief Executive Officer of NCTI, which powers frontline performance in the cable and broadband industry. She leads the company’s efforts to help clients achieve measurable results through actionable, timely and relevant learning.
Connect with Stacey: LinkedIn