Internal Customer Survey Design Tips

It is a commonly accepted principal that internal customer service, the service all employees provide each other, has a significant influence on employee satisfaction and turnover as well as the customer experience, customer loyalty, retention and wallet share. Key to managing any process, whether it is internal customer service or not, is information. This post outlines a survey tool to measure internal customer service in a manner to, not only understand what is going on, but also to inform management decisions with respect to the internal service environment. Kinesis has had success measuring the internal environment using a fairly simple internal customer service survey process with key call to action elements built into the program.

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Data collection for such internal customer service surveys is typically performed via an online survey instrument. Online surveys from an external provider allow for a promise of anonymity, allowing the employee to be completely candid in their input; with the additional benefit of being extremely cost efficient.

Generally, internal customer service surveys start with a screener asking what departments the employee has interacted with within a specific time period (typically the past three or six months). From this screener, survey logic determines what departments the employee will be asked to evaluate.

Departmental Evaluations

The next step in the survey process is to ask the employee to evaluate each department they have interacted with recently. We typically present the employee with a series of internal customer service survey questions based on specific service attributes. Among some of the service attributes we have had success measuring are:

  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Quality
  • Teamwork

As an option, you may want to consider using a battery of adjectives to evaluate each department. This technique presents employees with a list of adjectives and asks them, which if any of the adjectives describe each department. Some of the adjectives Kinesis has had success using include:

  • Attentive
  • Efficient
  • Experts
  • Empathetic
  • Respectful
  • Knowledgeable
  • Accountable
  • Reliable
  • Responsive
  • Courteous

Overall Company Evaluation

In additional to evaluating individual departments, it can also be instructive to evaluate the company as whole. There are a number of ways to do this. One technique is to ask yourself what is your brand personality, and evaluate each department against this benchmark. Another is to ask employees the extent to which they agree with the following statements:

  • We are the preferred provider in our industry.
  • Our employees build customer relationships to deliver exceptional service.
  • Our employees are empowered to serve customers.
  • Our strategy is forward thinking.
  • Our strategy ensures efficient and cost-effective operations.

Call to Action

Finally, research without call to action elements may be interesting, but not very useful. We always build several “call to action” elements into our internal customer service surveys, which are designed to identify ways clients can act on the research. Perhaps the simplest of these techniques is to solicit ideas for improvement with an open-ended question, such as:

What would you most like to change about the way our departments serve each other?

Or conversely,

What do you like best about the way our departments serve each other?

The answers to these questions will point managers in the right direction in terms of improving internal service.

Again, information is a critical to managing internal customer service. The benefits to managing internal customer service and integrating them into your culture include: improved collaboration, workflows, communication and productivity, while at the same time reducing costs with the ultimate benefit chain including stronger employee and customer satisfaction, lower turnover, and increased customer loyalty.

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About Eric Larse

Eric Larse is co-founder of Seattle-based Kinesis CEM, LLC, which helps clients plan and execute their customer experience strategies through the intelligent use of customer satisfaction surveys and mystery shopping, linked with training and incentive programs. Visit Kinesis at:

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