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Internal Customer

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Internal customers are specific people and departments who need you to help them serve external customers.

A simple definition of an internal customer is anyone within an organization who at any time is dependent on anyone else within the organization.

The internal customer may be a situational customer. This person may not always be the internal customer. They might be depending on someone inside the company at a specific time for a specific reason, maybe once a week or even once a year.

An example of an internal customer may be someone in the payroll department. Let’s say this payroll person is dependent on managers from various departments to call in the employee payroll on time. If a manager is late or doesn’t report payroll properly, then the payroll person can’t do his or her job, which is getting payroll checks out on time. The manager failed his or her internal customer.

This internal customer can be someone you work for as well as someone who works for you. At first you might think that because she works for me that I would always be her internal customer. After all, I’ m the boss! WRONG! Of course I am dependent on her to help me with my responsibilities, but she is just as dependent on me to get her the right information and training so that she can do the best job possible. It goes both ways.


To identify your specific internal customers, write your answers to the following steps.

Step 1: List your internal customers

  1. If I were to stop doing my job for two weeks, who would complain?
  2. If my department stopped operating, who would be inconvenienced?
  3. What departments and employees receive or use the work I produce to do their jobs?

Step 2: Filter out internal consumers from internal customers.

From the list above, identify those people and departments to whom you provide services, products, or value to external customers in some way.

Step 3: Categorize your customers into segments or subgroups by their needs for your service.

For example, Computer services for secretaries, project managers who need project software support, managers who need reports.

Step 4: For each of your internal customer segments, list their specific needs and requirements.

For example, Type of information needed; technical advice needed; speed of work needed; reliability and availability of equipment or materials you provide; quality of work needed; your availability and flexibility needed.