Recognized as a differentiator to help customer loyalty, increase revenues, and boost brand reputation, customer service is a top business priority. Stellar service can have benefits internally, too. When people treat colleagues as customers, the work environment changes for the better.
Imagine this: It’s 5:20 p.m. and you’re heading out the door for the weekend. Fri-yay at last! On your way out you pass a frazzled co-worker with a thumb drive trying to connect to the printer. Something is wrong with her own laptop, and she has to get hard copies of documents to her boss ASAP.
Do you walk on by thinking, “Someone else will help”? Many people would, notes the Disney Institute’s Bruce Jones in the Harvard Business Review. Yet, he suggests, if that individual was a customer, they’d likely stop and offer assistance. “We have learned that too many organizations consider service as primarily an external-facing effort, with exceptional experiences reserved for paying customers and clients.”
The thing is, treating colleagues as customers can dramatically enhance the culture in a work environment. When employees all treat each other with respect and look for ways to help one another, the business benefits. Consider these six advantages.
Why Treat Colleagues as Customers
#1 Employees are More Engaged
Worker turnover is a costly problem for any business. But people like working places where they feel appreciated. When people are friendly and helpful, staff members are more likely to feel connected to each other and your business culture.
If employees in your organization have a support network in place at work you’re also likely to see sick days drop. According to Gallup, highly engaged workplaces saw 41% lower absenteeism. Plus, engaged employees are more likely to step up and help when a crisis strikes.
69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were being better recognized. — Hubspot
#2 Engaged Employees are More Productive
Employee engagement helps with motivation, too. People are more likely to work harder and care more about the job they do for a company where they feel cared for and connected.
With improved morale, your work teams will be more stable, too. This will make it easier to nurture and recognize talent, which can lead to improved processes and people taking on greater responsibilities.
#3 Better Relationships are Built
Treating colleagues as customers provides a foundation for stronger relationships, which in turn helps support a company culture that people value and want to uphold. When colleagues build genuine connections with one another, they develop stronger ties to work, which means more engagement. Plus, they will share more with one another about areas of interest and strengths, which can lead to greater innovation.
#4 More Open Communication Follows
Employees who are proactive in helping one another are more likely to share knowledge. This can lead to real progress in unexpected areas as people across departments offer insights that solve problems or identify areas of concern. Plus, people are more willing to listen to other opinions when they are shared by those that they know and respect already.
Colleagues are also better able to hear constructive criticism and feedback from people who have treated them well in the past. Bringing customer service values into the internal work environment can help foster an atmosphere of trust and a collaborative spirit.
Trusted companies have employees who take 32 times more risk and are 11 times more likely to innovate. — LRN #5 Better Listening Happens
An essential component of excellent customer service is listening to the customers’ needs. You hear their concerns. You try to understand where they are coming from. You leverage emotional intelligence to show empathy.
Now, imagine actively doing all of that with coworkers. Think how much more likely your team is to pull in the same direction and applaud each other’s successes. Better listening can bring greater success overall.
#6 Customer Service Improves, Too
With your employees embodying proactiveness and courtesy in every element of their day-to-day at work, your brand will prosper. When service is valued internally and externally, customers will be interacting with people who feel respected and cared for themselves. As Disney’s Jones put it, “When you take great care of your employees and colleagues, you can reasonably expect them to go above and beyond to take great care of your company’s customers.”
Effective interpersonal skills can pay off with customers and colleagues alike. Being proactive and responsive, and having the best interests of the people you work with in mind, fosters loyalty and open communication. You’ll get to be with more engaged and enthusiastic individuals every day. Your work will benefit and the business will see the advantages, too.
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