Do you treat your colleagues as your customers?

Everything you do in your work will probably have a knock-on effect on someone else in the business. If you do your job perfectly, it will help others do their job and in the end, the customer benefits from great service.

If you are well removed from the customer, operating in one of the vital back-office roles, it is really easy to think that what you do doesn’t really matter to the customer. There may be no direct effect, but if what you do runs really smoothly your colleagues in the next department don’t have to spend time and effort dealing with your output – they can just get on with the job.

This is something you can picture really well if you think of a production line. If the previous operation has put all the holes in the right place and they are the right size, completing your operation is really easy. If the hole is in the wrong place or is the wrong size, that requires you to take extra time to fix before you can carry on with your “real” job.

The same principles apply in an environment that isn’t a production line.

In one company, the customer services team handled order administration and were responsible for quoting the customer order number on our invoices. They would archive the customer orders without a copy of the invoice, and with no reference to the invoice number.

The credit control team, trying to get payment for these invoices, found that some of them had incorrect purchase order numbers. The customer would not (could not) pay us.

Finding the right order number and re-issuing the invoice with the correct details was a laborious time-consuming job.

We changed the system so that the cross-referencing was captured. The customer service team didn’t treat credit control as a customer, yet credit control were reliant upon the output from customer services.

When you look at your department, who are your customers and are you meeting their needs?

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