The effect of poor internal communication on customer satisfaction

Posted by Jennifer Vieira

We dig into 6 ways your internal communication affects customer satisfaction, and give some recommendations on how to solve your communication problems.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 24 seconds.

Customer centricity: a buzzword associated with business success and a term seen as the golden light at the end of the strategy tunnel. To be customer-centric means to fully embrace the customer at the heart of your business, and to base all philosophies, operations, and innovations around solving the customer's needs and desires.

Companies spend countless resources ensuring they are speaking their consumer's language and are in line with their values in order to gain trust and ultimately gain loyalty.

In order to gain trust and achieve a customer-centric mindset, a foundation of good internal communication needs to be established and practised. This is a strategy and concept that is often (perhaps always) overlooked.

The relationship between internal communication and customer satisfaction

Internal communications affect internal understanding, drive, and passion and are the fundamentals of customer satisfaction.

I will take you through a few of the most important reasons why internal comms should always remain on the strategy radar in order to ensure customer satisfaction and seamless deliverability.

  1. Employee satisfaction = customer satisfaction
  2. Drive internal purpose... and tie it in with your persona’s purpose
  3. Break away from the silo
  4. Efficient project management
  5. Ensure strategies are fuelled with creativity and innovation
  6. Allow businesses to build a unified company, one brand mindset instead of a role or function

1. Employee satisfaction

Lack of communication results in employees making their own conclusions and learning through the broken telephone grapevine. Remember, surprises should be left for birthdays! I have often seen departments and individuals “fight” for information initially, before giving up and becoming complacent within their job. A lack of communication leaves employees feeling that their opinion or roles don’t matter.

Why is trust so important? A lack of trust and communication will drive individuals to do the “minimum” and stick to a silo-based performance based solely on job description or departmental role. Definitely not a recipe for exceeding customer expectations!

The aim of communication is to build internal trust and empower employees by taking them along the customer journey within the business. Engaged employees are more creative, passionate and seek ways to solve problems and streamline processes. Make their voice heard!

2. Drive internal purpose 

More and more, we see that not only Millennials, but all employees, are driven by a sense of purpose and want to feel apart of something greater than themselves.

Effective communication will satisfy the “why” need that lies within employees and fuel their desire to learn while providing a space to be open.

Encourage curiosity and questions. This seamlessly drives innovations within processes. I recommend driving transparency from the top management down.

3. Breaking away from the silos

Quite often, departments operate within their own silo, and are unaware of what other departments may even do! Departments feel as if they are working for their own individual gain instead of that of each other or business at large.

This may drive frustration and lack of empathy within business processes. A typical scenario involves sellers selling - reaching their target at all costs while overlooking the lack of resources needed to fulfil promises made. The over promise and under delivering approach leads to scrambling efforts; often costing the business in deliverability.

Lack of internal communication and alignment will always surface and create frustration for the customer (such as having to repeat their history each time they interact).

4. Drive efficient project management

Once good communication is established, sound processes may take place.  A process is only as good as the people delivering it. For it does not take a bulletproof business process to achieve success, but rather one of understanding and trust.

5. Empower employees 

To drive one company, and one brand mindset, use internal comms! This will empower your staff and drive accountability. This is because communication aimed at solving problems will dissipate a fear-based mindset and thus drive more accountability. It is important to develop a culture to see challenges as learnings. As Harvard Business Review explains, “When something has gone wrong at work, people may feel that they did not have the information they needed to make a decision. It might be information about the health of the company, the status of projects in other business units, or the quality of their work. Because people sense that they were missing needed information, they blame lack of communication for the problem.”

6. THE most important plug-in to a strategy

Here at Spitfire, internal research is just as important as external research when it comes to understanding your personas. No one knows your clients and processes more than those who work with them day to day. Capitalise on internal knowledge and encourage information sharing and feedback.

Drive innovation by asking employees how you can improve and communicate customer feedback.

Ways to achieve open, good internal communication:

  • Open and honest communication is key. Ensure that all who lead do so with integrity and transparency
  • Illustrating the impact each role makes on the customer. Bring your employees along the journey and strive to build awareness.
  • Showcase case studies internally and encourage learning and challenge sharing. Create a panel to discuss alternative solutions across various roles and departments.
  • Drive an emotive KPI within the business - one that can extend along the customer journey. For employees project their own internal values.
  • Develop KPIs which will be an umbrella for each departments KPIs in order to ensure everyone is working towards a common goal
  • Take advantage of technology! Internal communications can be shared effectively within HubSpot in a form of newsletters, alerts and workflows.
  • Combine departments in your KPI meetings - such as smarketing meeting (marketing + sales)
  • Ask your employees and departments for their suggestions! Internal focus groups and surveys are a must.
  • Implement internal training opportunities
  • Make it fun!

With all this in mind, it is not only beneficial to include a component of internal communications in everything you do but it is imperative if you want to differentiate yourselves in the market. Customer centricity starts and ends with efficient and effective internal communications.

actionable tip internal communications

Another great way to make sure you’re delivering customer-centric content is to plan ahead for your marketing. Download our marketing calendar for some help planning your next year. We also recommend you share this with your internal team to ensure everyone is kept up to date on your marketing efforts.

Download Marketing Calendar