When customer services come under discussion, most people tend immediately to think of external customers – the ones who buy our products or services. But what about the other type of customer – the internal customer? Dr Reuphillan Kasselman offers guidelines on how shared services can be used to deliver services to internal customers at a cost, quality and timeliness that are competitive with other alternatives.
by Dr Reuphillan Kasselman
Dr Reuphillan Kasselman completed her PhD in Organisational Behaviour at the University of Pretoria. She specialises in the development, implementation and improvement of business strategies and processes. Her expertise in developing and implementing Shared Services allows her to bring insight into the issues and best practices facing organisations with regard to re-structuring, re-engineering, cost saving, planning, and integration as part of the establishment of new businesses. Reuphillan has experience in Mining, Manufacturing, Financial Services, Retail, and Energy, spanning different functional areas and countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. She started her career in finance, and has been involved in IT, HR, Contact Centres and CRM, specialising in Business Model Design and Shared Services. She is a Business Coach and an acknowledged facilitator of many business seminars and conferences in South Africa. Her achievements also include authoring and presenting papers at conferences globally. She is the founder and CEO of Forte Advisory Services.
It may be argued that true customers have complete discretion over their spending, and unilaterally select when, where, how and with whom they will spend their money. So the “internal customer” may be seen as a misnomer. Is this a colleague, or possibly a co-worker? This is the thinking with which many a customer services representative (CSR) in shared services centres (SSCs) battles. The problem with this thinking is that it affects not only the CSR, but also the customers – in their view, in their approach (or should that be “demands”?), and ultimately, in the entire interaction. This may soon create disloyalty instead of the advocacy which would be best for the company.
Being an internal service provider means more than just questioning your customer (colleague, employee, line manager) to gather information; it also means speaking with and listening to them as customers.