The Two Types of Customers You Serve
Whether you know it or not, your business’ customer service serves more than one type of customer. You have external customers: the people who pay for your work and hire your company to perform services. For contractors, external customers are the people who expect to be more comfortable after your company visits their business or home.
You also have internal customers: your company’s team of leaders, employees, and other people who help your business succeed. Internal customers are the people who are paid to work for or with you.
Most businesses definitely don’t think of their employees as internal customers, but employees (your internal customers) are just as important to the success of a business as external customers. A healthy, growing company depends on a workplace culture where its internal customers are as interested in providing quality service to each other as they are in serving your external customers. Your employees depend on each other; your external customers depend on your internal customers.
When your business isn’t serving both your external and internal customers at the same time, imbalance follows. For example, if your company’s only focus is on ensuring your external customers are happy, your internal customers — your team— will be drained; energy will only be going outwards, and won’t be replenished. That’s not sustainable. On the flip side, if your business is mainly focused on keeping its internal customers happy and making money, your external customers won’t feel well-served. That’s also not sustainable.
Do you see how this works? If only one end of the customer service spectrum is thriving, the other end wastes away and dies.
But there can be balance. There’s no reason your business can’t serve both its external and internal customers at the same time. Consider what your external customers want: respect, integrity, quality work, and open communication.
Your internal customers want the exact same things. These are common desires of any human being, regardless of which side of the customer service relationship a person is on. Both your external and internal customers have the same motives for being involved with you and your company.
When it comes to making sure both your internal and external customers are getting quality customer service, here are a few things to think about:
- How does your business currently serve each type of customer? How would each type of customer liked to be served? Would you hire your business for service? Would you work for you?
- What tools and resources are you using to make the customer experience better for both internal and external customers? How you can you make sure everyone is getting respect, quality work, and open communication?