Are Your Co-Workers Customers Too?

John Krautzel
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When you think customer service, you probably imagine a salesman meeting with clients or a phone representative offering after-the-sale support to a customer. An example that may not come to mind is a professional interacting with his colleagues. While you may not think about it regularly, keep it mind that your co-workers are your customers too, and follow these tips to improve your office relationships.

1. Handle Requests for Help Appropriately

Whether Jan in human resources is asking you to provide employee reports or Steve in the marketing department is asking you for insights on the latest product line, consider each internal request to be a customer service inquiry. Keep the lines of communication open, and set a reasonable time frame for completing the work. Keep the requesting department or colleague abreast of your progress, and adhere to all deadlines.

2. Be Present and Available

Treat your relationships with your subordinates with just as much care as you do customer service relationships with clients. Interact with your staff on a regular basis, and stay informed on their day-to-day activities . When you're out of the office, keep the lines of communication open through phone calls or emails. Maintain a calendar so employees know when they can expect you to be in the office and available.

3. Maintain a Positive Attitude

Even when you're having a bad day or stressed with deadlines, make an attempt to be friendly with others in your office. Smile at co-workers, and welcome them warmly when they ask for help. If a colleague is having difficulty with a project and you have time to spare, offer your assistance to show that you're a team player.

4. Show Respect for Your Superiors

Practice a customer service-inspired mindset when it comes to your interactions with your direct boss and other managers in your organization. Even if you have issues or frustrations with your boss or his abilities, never discuss them with others in the office. You may end up with a bad reputation, or your disrespectful words may get back to your superior.

5. Make Your Appreciation Known

When a colleague goes above and beyond to help you with a project or offer other assistance, be sure to show your appreciation. Send a sincere email, offer a hand-written note or say "thank you" in person. This goes a long way toward fostering a positive relationship and may benefit you in the future if you need help again.

External customer service is a high priority for any organization, since repeat clients keep the company in business. Often overlooked, however, is the internal customer service experience. While you aren't likely to call your co-workers "customers," it's important to treat them as such.

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