Teamwork demands that all departments provide service to the internal client who is on the front line serving the external client. That means you are responsible for serving other team members and they are responsible for serving you. As a team member, you must remember that the key word to describe your relationship with others is interdependence. Others are dependent on you and you are dependent on others. We need each other to ultimately serve our external clients and to meet their specific needs.
When a team is performing at its best, you'll usually find that each team member has clear responsibilities. You'll also see that every role needed to achieve the team's goal is being performed well, thoroughly and completely.
But often, despite clear roles and responsibilities, a team will fall short of its full potential. Maybe some team members don't complete the functions you expect them to do. Perhaps others are not quite flexible enough, so things "fall between the cracks." Possibly someone who is valued for their expert input fails to see the wider picture, and so misses tasks or steps that others expect. Or perhaps one team member becomes frustrated because they disagree with the approach of other team members.
Here is an example that demonstrates the concept of interdependence and why it is important to work as a team in order to achieve client service goals:
A food server in a hospital delivers a tray of food to a patient (external client). The food server is obviously the individual who directly serves the "external client” and has the face-to-face contact. The food server says to the patient: "Good evening, Mr. Jones. We have a nice, warm tray of food for you." The server then places the tray on the table by the bed. Mr. Jones takes the lid from the plate and discovers that all the food is mixed together - the peas, mashed potatoes and gravy all look like an ill-prepared casserole. The mystery meat on the plate is indiscernible and cold. Mr. Jones wonders whether he should taste the food, but decides that since he is already in the hospital, why not! As he expected he would, Mr. Jones discovers that the meal does not taste good. Who takes the brunt of the patient's complaints? You know that it is the food server - the individual with the face-to-face contact with the client. But who actually prepared the food? It was a cook - an individual who serves the "external client” by serving the internal client (other staff/team members). Since the cook's client is the food server, in this case, the cook did not meet his client's needs.
To bring it closer to home, another example are the consulting services provided by Boomer Consulting, Inc. When a client makes the decision to engage a Boomer Consultant, a contract defining the services to be provided is signed (external client). It is my responsibility to set the process of providing that service into motion. As with any service provider there are numerous items that need to be addressed before the consultant can actually provide the on-site service: a phone call for the consultant and client to discuss expectations, the final agenda and supporting materials needed; preparing those materials; travel; and invoicing just to mention a few. In our office, Deanna Cox prepares the materials for Sandra’s (internal client) on-site Kolbe engagements. Sandra provides Deanna with the detail needed to produce, print the materials to the client location prior to her arrival. Suppose Deanna prepared 10 folders of materials when Sandra clearly indicated there would be 20 associates attending the meeting. (Each associate needs their personal Kolbe information for this engagement.) Upon arrival at the client’s location Sandra finds there are not enough nor are they correct materials for the number of members (external client).
Who is going to take the brunt of the client’s concern (external client)? You know it will be Sandra, the consultant with the face-to-face contact with the client. But who prepared the materials and truly did not meet the client’s expectation? Deanna, who serves the external client by serving the internal client, Since Sandra is Deanna’s client; it is Deanna who did not meet the client’s needs.
Think of examples in your office where the external client is served by the team meeting each other’s needs. Providing good client service does not require that you meet the client face-to-face. You can provide great client service even when you never speak to the external client just by serving your firm’s internal team members.
So let’s get back to interdependence. As a team member, others are dependent on you and you are dependent on others. We need each other to ultimately serve our external clients and to meet their specific expectations and needs.
Teamwork demands that all departments provide service to the internal client who is on the front line serving the external client. As a team member, remember you provide service to the firm clients by serving your team members. We need each other to ultimately serve our external clients and to meet their specific needs.
In what areas can your firm improve?