Can Poor Internal Customer Service Impact Great External Service?

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by radio station MileHiRadio.com  about BAD Customer Service. A caller asked, ”Can a company provide great external customer service while harboring poor internal customer service.” And my answer—without pausing—was, “NO!… Not for the long term.” But this question really got me thinking. Can an employee who is overworked, underpaid, and not respected day in and day out, provide great customer service? Talk about “fake it ‘til you make it.”  How long can such behavior last without causing some kind of stress or illness to an employee?thCA3Z2JLK

According to the Gallup Organization:

  • 19% of employees are very negative about their work. These employees are considered actively disengaged – also known as “out to lunch.”
  • 25% of America’s workforce are employed in industries that report 100% turnover
  • 55% of employees are apathetic or uninterested
  • 70% of employees feel no obligation to stay with their current employer
  • 90% of voluntary resignations are due to feeling under appreciated

We’ve seen statistics like these before. In fact, they haven’t changed much in the past 20 years, despite all the ups and downs in our economy.

Real World Story: An attendee of one of my Customer Service presentations recently shared the following story:

I was employed at a prestigious medical group for more than 20 years. Although I loved my job, I did not feel appreciated or respected. I felt like I just didn’t matter. Although I had seniority above many other co-workers, I still got the “bad” shifts and duties. When I confronted my supervisor about it on numerous occasions, my supervisor said she was working on it. But, nothing ever changed. Because of the stress of my job, I developed a number of illnesses, which I was afraid to tell anyone about for fear of losing my job.  Incidentally, I was highly compensated in my job.

About three months ago, at the suggestion of a good friend, I quit my job and started working at a smaller medical group in a rural community. Although the pay was significantly less than my previous position, I loved my new job! Why?  For several reasons: 1.  My fellow employees and I acted and felt like team players. If someone was having a bad day, a team mate was there to fill the slack—no questions asked. 2. My manager was constantly complimenting me and recognizing my efforts—especially when I believed that I went “above and beyond.” 3. I knew exactly where the medical group was headed professionally, so I was happy to help them get there.

Strategies that Turn it Around:nurse-and-patient[1]

  1. Take a good hard look at your customers. Are they coming back, and are they telling their friends about you, or are they one-time customers and that’s it?
  2. If your customers are “one and done,” perhaps it’s time to find out why. And guess what? You may have to actually ASK THEM!
  3. If they say they don’t like your service, take a look at your staff to see if that’s truly the case. What percentage of YOUR staff are disengaged?
  4. If most of your staff are truly disengaged, take a look at your managers. Are they leading by example? Are they communicating, rewarding, and doing all the necessary duties of a good leader?
  5. If managers are problematic, take a look at the executive team. Are they communicating the vision and values of the organization and making sure all employees are in line with such?

As you can see, the solution is not simple. Firing a disengaged employee may work for the short term, but if you don’t deal with the underlying problem, you will never find the solution.

Do you have disengaged employees? If so, what’s your plan to deal with them? Please share in the comments below.

7 Responses to “Can Poor Internal Customer Service Impact Great External Service?”


  1. 1 Cheyserr April 5, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Great article. We cannot give what we don’t have. If our customer service reps are not getting a good experience from the work place, we cannot expect them to provide a good customer experience to the customers as well.
    In the same manner, the values we share in our company will be the same values we will share with our customers. If our customers will see and feel that the values we share as a company does not correspond to the brand we advertise, they will never believe us anymore.

  2. 3 panos May 6, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I used to work in a telecommunications company for about 18 years and the last 11 years in Customer Services Departments. therefore, to make to long story short when some of the employees were disanganged for a variety of reasons pointed above in the article, the service was disrupted and it was pointed out to customers surveys.
    The above article i imagine is excellent and includes all kind of effective or problematic customer services.

    Panos

  3. 5 2016 Calendars January 22, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    I got this site from my buddy who shared with me regarding this website and at the moment this time I am browsing this web site
    and reading very informative articles or reviews here.


  1. 1 Do You Know How to Improve Your Customer Service? - RMagazine Trackback on December 9, 2016 at 4:01 am
  2. 2 The Human Element? – Customer Service = Yes – The Customer Service Experience Trackback on May 5, 2017 at 11:05 am

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