Over the past several weeks I’ve worked with a handful of clients whose CSRs have the unique challenge of serving two different sets of customers. There are the "traditional" customers – the end-users of the company’s products/services and then there are the "internal" customers who are scattered around the country or the globe as dealers, sales representatives, or territory managers.
It’s very common for CSRs in the call center to treat these internal customers differently (that is, worse), and the relationship is admittedly different. An internal customer has different expectations and different needs. In many cases, they can be just as demanding, if not more demanding, than a traditional customer.
Nevertheless, internal customers are customers, and CSRs often feel that they have license or are given license to give internal customers a lower level of service than traditional customers. Commonly, CSRs don’t extend professionalism, courtesy and friendliness, they aren’t as quick to respond, and they give a lower priority to resolving issues.
This view of internal customers is short-sighted. It leads, by extension, to poor service for the traditional customers that the field serves. It heightens internal conflict and tension between the home office and the front-lines. In the call center, it creates a host of issues for the QA team who tries to apply a scorecard meant for traditional customers to a internal customer call that doesn’t "fit".
HEre are a couple of suggestions for call centers who serve both traditional and internal customers:
- Invest in a survey of your dealers or field reps. Find out what drives their satisfaction compared to your traditional customers. The data will allow you to make tactical decisions for improving your service to them.
- Create a QA scale for internal customers or modify your existing scale to account for the differences between internal customers and traditional customers.
- Make your internal customers an intentional area of focus within the call center. Changing the attitudes and culture within your call center will take conscious effort. Plan an event, bring a dealer or sales rep in to talk to your teams about their jobs and how the call center is a critical part of helping them serve traditional customers well.
- As a reward for one of your top performing CSRs, send them out to the field as a goodwill ambassador, equipped with a video camera to do a "ride along" and document their trip. Have the CSR share their experiences with the CSRs back home and let them be a cheerleader for improving service to internal customers.
Whatever you can do to improve attitudes and service to internal customers will yield positive results on several fronts. Internal relationships will improve, internal tension will diminish and the end-customers will be better served by the field.