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n Journal of Public Administration - Leading internal customer care for external excellence
The customer care or service approach is designed to improve relationships with and ways of handling customers, that is to realign organisational strategies and processes towards satisfying customers' needs.
The best customer care programmes go further than a simple concentration on the (external) customer and recognise the fact that, especially in large organisations, intermediate departments or sections involved in the supply of a service are themselves customers of one another. There is a front line in which staff have direct contact with the final receivers of the service, and then a series of interfaces within the organisation where one member of staff (or a team) provides an internal service to another. There is thus a customer chain which stretches back from the end (external) customer to the point at which a product or service is designed and specified.
Genuine customer care is thus a by-product of internal relationships and culture, which renders it a leadership issue that should be part of an overall organisational strategy. Customer care has to start at the top, with leadership, as the way customers are treated is closely allied to the way staff feel about their jobs and the situation in which they do them. Customer care is unlikely to happen by chance and the effective leader ensures that it is never left to chance.
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