“The way you think your customers feel about your product is not always the same as what your customers really think about your product. ” – Bo Bennett
For those of us who work in or lead a team that supports internal customers, often the last thing we have time to do is to promote or market the team’s work. And why should we? Surely ‘they’ see the great things we do?! Actually, our internal customers are often so busy themselves that they may rarely notice or think about those who support them. So perhaps take a moment to think about how to promote the team and get the message out there about the work we do.
Before we go any further – what do we mean by ‘promoting’? In this sense it is about raising internal awareness of what the team does to support the business, what elements will help it operate more successfully and what achievements are being made.
So why should we promote the team to our internal customers? Well, wouldn’t it be great if we created business partnerships with our customers – relationships that enable optimal efficiency and effectiveness through working together? And to help create that business partnership, our internal customers need to see us as more than just the team that responds to their reactive needs.
Engaging customers in a business partnership is not just about handling an issue or delivering a solution. For a productive relationship, we should be finding ways to: anticipate customer needs, provide relevant services to support their work and highlight the benefits of working together.
If we start to do this well, ultimately this will help us to: reduce duplication, minimise customer complaints, maximise resources and reinforce our success in the business.
Promoting the team starts with effective communication regarding services – making it meaningful and relevant to the customer. It’s also about demonstrating exceptional customer service, even during stressful situations. And it is about marketing the team internally, through value-add services, promotional activities and celebration of success.
Effective communication regarding services
Often we assume that internal customers know what we do to support the business. However, if you took a survey today, would all your customers know all of the areas you cover? Would they understand the value you add across the business? It’s likely that your internal customers only see the work you do for them and they might forget even that after a few weeks.
If you can paint a ‘big picture’ of how your team supports the business overall, then you may find that customers are impressed with the scope of work and it could even highlight efficiency areas e.g. perhaps another team duplicate parts of your work, perhaps knowing that you do more strategic work for other teams will reduce the demand for lesser value work. Often our customers ‘don’t know what they don’t know’!
- Think about getting the team to brainstorm the key areas they work in and group similar work under major headings. Then get them to identify the value of that work to the business. (Tip: if they can’t identify the value, then why are you doing that work?)
- Do you have a team vision? You could communicate that to your customers as well.
- Do you have areas that you work in that could be more efficient if customers would only cooperate? Think about mapping out “help us to support you” guidelines to discuss.
- Have you had some great successes recently? Consider how you will highlight that meaningfully to others.
Whatever you do want to showcase with customers, think about the relevance of the information and how you can structure it simply, yet with impact. Make sure all team members are equipped to discuss the key points as promotion is a group effort.
Once you know what you want to communicate, think about how best to get the message out there. You could schedule meetings with key customers to review recent work and update them on the team’s focus areas; you might want to meet with a number of customers to identify areas to ensure better business support; or you could host a morning tea break for new employees to showcase your service areas. These are just a few suggestions, however ensure that the team is communicating consistently and in an ongoing fashion!
Demonstrating exceptional customer service
Exceptional customer service is not just about delivering everything a customer asks for. It is about anticipating customer needs, understanding those needs and delivering valuable solutions and services to meet the needs. To be effective here, you need to consider how actively you try to anticipate needs or truly understand your internal customer’s daily challenges and opportunities. If you can do this well and deliver appropriate support, then you will raise awareness and respect for the team and probably end up doing more satisfying work.
To anticipate and understand needs, you will obviously at some point have to ask your customers some questions! You will be surprised at how much most customers will appreciate being asked. This in itself is team promotion!
Exceptional customer service is also about handling stressful situations. Make sure you and your team are equipped to approach these difficult scenarios with professionalism, calmness and a focus on results. This is a complex area and one that requires much support, preparation and coaching. But if you can win over a customer in a stressful interaction, then you are truly promoting the team.
Marketing the team
Marketing the team internally has already started if you have addressed the previous two areas! Now think about what else you can do. Whilst you don’t want to overload internal customers with too much information, consider how you can remind them you are there, highlight your work and perhaps even make them smile.
If you give presentations, perhaps you can showcase ‘how we have helped the business this month’. Maybe you can ask for customer feedback through an online survey with a prize for the first five participants. Sometimes even a laminated desktop card can be useful for some teams. Or think about relevant value add services – what about an online ‘tips’ section; a short training session; a monthly newsletter?
There is value in promoting your team to internal customers. Not only will it help build awareness of your achievements, it should also help build effective business partnerships with your customers. Promoting is not just about highlighting what you do, it’s about identifying how you help the business, demonstrating exceptional customer service and marketing your team in different ways.
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