You can’t have great customer service without great internal service. As a reminder, the internal customer is anyone within our own organization who is dependent on us for anything. Taking care of this internal customer allows them to do their job, take care of another internal customer or take care of the outside customer.

Much of what is written and taught about regular outside customer service works for internal service as well. One of my favorite areas on which to lecture is on understanding the customer. While I have written about this in earlier articles, it bears repeating. It is really a simple concept. Sometimes we think we know what our customers want, but they really want something else.

In other words, we make assumptions. In order not to make mistakes, we need to get inside our customers heads and give them what they want versus what we think they want. The easiest way to do this is to ask questions.

Okay, enough review. How does this apply to the internal customer? When was the last time you asked your employees if they were happy with you? Or, when was the last time you showed your employees sincere appreciation?

What is all of this leading to? Some very important information. Apparently, some surveys are proving that managers and supervisors are not in sync with what their employees want.

Robert Half International conducted a survey and found out the top reasons employees leave to go work somewhere else. When executives, managers and supervisors were asked what they thought, their number one answer was money. They thought money was the motivator to cause someone to “jump ship.” When the employees who had left were surveyed, the number one reason they left to work somewhere else was lack of recognition and appreciation.

Another survey conducted by Challenger Outplacement Council, written up in Human Resource Update, found that the most important employee motivators are:

1. Recognition/appreciation
2. Independence
3. Contribution to the company
4. Salary

Another survey put together by Glenn Tobe & Associates asked employees and their supervisors what were their top motivators. The employee’s responses were a bit different than the supervisors. Notice what employees thought was most important versus what supervisors thought was least important.

Employees wanted:

1. Appreciation
2. Feeling "in" on things
3. Understanding attitude
4. Job security
5. Good wages
6. Interesting work
7. Promotion opportunities
8. Loyalty from management

Supervisors thought they wanted:

1. Good wages
2. Job security
3. Promotion opportunities
4. Good working conditions
5. Interesting work
6. Loyalty from management
7. Tactful discipline
8. Appreciation

Let’s look at other areas, such as employee perks. One of my clients took an area of his building and created a workout center for employees. He spent a large amount of money to put together a facility that was the best for the money based on the space that he had. He thought employees would go crazy over it. He was dead wrong! Yes, a few employees took advantage of it, but the facility was seldom used. All he had to do was ask the employees if they would use it. He eventually found out.

Consider holding a focus group, not for customers, but for employees. Make it easy for your employees to give you feedback on what their likes and dislikes are. A survey could be put together to help better understand their feelings. Occasionally take an employee to lunch to see what is on his or her mind. You may also learn about the feelings of other employees. Anheuser-Busch has executives ride with the beer delivery trucks, not just to see the customer, but to get feedback from the “front liners” of their business. Many companies have similar types of programs that let their executives get a pulse on their customers in the “real world.”

Realize that this is not a one time thing. Finding out what your employees think should be ongoing, just as it is for the outside customer. Determine which of these or other methods of employee feedback work best and consider doing it at least once every six months, if not more often.

Go back one more time to the Glenn Tobe & Associates survey and look at the difference between what the employee wants versus what the managers and supervisors think the employee wants! Creating MOMENTS OF MAGIC are not just for the outside customer!

Author's Bio: 

Shep Hyken is a professional speaker and author who works with companies who want to develop loyal relationships with their customers and employees. For more information on Shep's speaking programs, books, tapes and learning programs please contact (314) 692-2200. Email: Web: