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LeadingEdition: E-Newsletter for Purdue University Supervisors

Is your work group "customer oriented"?
Try this assessment to find out.

As consumers of goods and services, all of us have come to appreciate and expect excellent customer service and the satisfaction that accompanies it.

We demand that our automobiles are repaired correctly the first time. We expect that the latest DVD will work right when we take it out of the box. We are entitled to personal attention when we ask a sales person questions about the features of a high tech digital camera. We expect that groceries that we purchase will not be spoiled when we unpack them. And, if our needs are not met, we vote with our legs. We go elsewhere and find another supplier--whether it is a vendor, sales person, retail store, or contractor.

As a result, all suppliers become very sensitized to the needs of their customers. Suppliers fail or thrive on how well they can exceed their customers buying expectations.

What we forget many times is that any person who is employed at Purdue University is an internal supplier and an internal customer. Payroll clerks supply payroll checks to their customers all other employees. Business managers supply business services to their customers deans, department heads, and faculty. Information technology professionals provide services to their customers?users of the telephone, computers, servers, and Web sites. Recreational sports, food services, and libraries all supply goods and services to a wide variety of customers, many of whom are internal to the University. There is not a single employee on the campus of Purdue who is not supplying a product or service to someone else. There is not a single person on campus who does not rely on others to supply him or her as a customer.

So what happens when, as an internal customer, we are not satisfied with the supplier's service? If it is Purdue food service, we can eat across the street. But if we are trying to get our PC to work, we can't go across the street. If we are trying to get our grant processed, we cannot call the grant service. If we have a plugged toilet, we cannot call our personal plumber. We must rely on our internal suppliers. We cannot vote with our legs and go across the street or across town.

All who supervise the supply of goods and services to internal customers at Purdue University have a special responsibility. That responsibility is to operate as if every person or department -- if dissatisfied -- could choose a different supplier who would meet or exceed his or her expectations.

So how does your work unit fare? Assess your department employees or send this assessment to your most important internal customers to determine your work group's attitude toward providing service to your internal customers.

1- To Very Large Extent
2- To Large Extent
3- To Some Extent
4- To Little Extent
5- To Very Little Extent
DK- Don't Know

To what degree do individuals within your work group:

  • Blame others for their customer service difficulties?
    1 2 3 4 5 DK
  • Treat internal customers differently than they themselves would like to be treated?
    1 2 3 4 5 DK
  • Moan and groan about internal customers?
    1 2 3 4 5 DK
  • Believe there is no point in trying to improve internal customer service?
    1 2 3 4 5 DK
  • Believe that customer service interferes with the completion of other tasks?
    1 2 3 4 5 DK
  • Talk negatively about Purdue University?
    1 2 3 4 5 DK
  • Place little value on customer service problem solving?
    1 2 3 4 5 DK
  • Speak in the jargon of their discipline rather than in terms their customers understand?
    1 2 3 4 5 DK
  • Dismiss other employees as customers?
    1 2 3 4 5 DK
  • Consider customer service boring?
    1 2 3 4 5 DK

Your Score:

45-50 Your work group sets the example for Purdue.

35-44 With some coaching, your work group can exceed the expectations of your internal customers.

25-34 Your internal customers may be complaining about your service.

10-24 Purdue University officials may be complaining about your service.

Regardless of how you score, if you have an interest in brushing up your work group's customer service skills, check out the HR Training and Development Customer Service Series.

- Al Knight
Assistant Director of Human Resource Services
for Organization and Career Development

Bullet Visit the LeadingEdition index of articles and past issues. 

LeadingEdition is an electronic newsletter for Purdue University supervisors.  It is produced and distributed by Purdue University Human Resources four times annually.  If you have questions, comments or suggestions relating to the newsletter, please call 49-41679 or email us.  Thank you.