I am a bit of a nut for internal customer service. Not just getting along with your work mates and being polite to them, but all pulling in the same direction to make the boat go faster. The workplace is a wonderful melting pot of personalities that make this harder for some than others. We all know these people below don’t we?
- Grumpy Gary – That is not my job, you do it!
- Walkover Warren – Oh don’t worry, I will do it for you
- Winging Wanda – How can I soar like an eagle when surrounded by turkeys?
- Ostrich Ollie – I hate doing that so I am going to ignore it till it disappears
While I paint these personalities with a bit of a derogatory slant on them, look around the room and even at yourself and see if you can spot any of them. They are all contributors to slowing the boat down. They inspire the inverse response from people they are trying to inspire an action from. Wanda won’t have many ally’s in the business, everyone takes a wide berth around Gary and no one has the wherewithal to tell Ollie he needs to sort his crap out rather than leaving it for others to sweep up.
As slightly emasculating as it is to share, I will always remember something Jenifer Lopez said on an episode of American Idol many many years ago. It was that part of the series where they are culling down the hundreds that make it through the first cut. They put the contestants into groups and make them practice a song for a day and sing it together as an audition resulting in a fascinating human behaviour study.
They are forced to work and perform as a team that they did not get to select, but are fighting for a solo spot in the end – the group exercise is purely to test them as it is a solo singer competition after all. There are always fantastic fireworks in one or many groups but this episode was a real doozey. There was a Winging Wanda and she was massively disruptive and ruined it for everyone in her team and inevitably the audition was terrible. Jennifer Lopez was all over how this had transpired and congratulated the group for all their hard work, but then singled Winging Wanda out from the group while on the stage. Jennifer, normally a very warm and encouraging judge was clearly miffed and went on to say to ‘Wanda’ “do you know why I am successful? I am successful because people like working with me and doing business with me. I am considerate and care about my peers, my team and business partners. You may be a solo act, but you will never achieve greatness on your own”
Internal customer service is not just about helping people, and certainly not falling into Warren’s trap. It is about being a person people like working with and doing business with. It inspires authentic two way collaboration and support. The reason I am such a big fan of this philosophy is that when it is humming inside your own tent, it pours out the door and into your external customer service engagements. It’s organic, it’s easy.
Collaborate and collude internally and not only will the boat go faster, but help will always turn up before you knew you needed it.