Skip to main content
Go to blog

Internal Customer – What’s the Meaning of This Term?

As a manager or supervisor in an organization, your primary role is to guide and direct your subordinates. Your subordinates are internal customers. If you mistreat them, they are likely to lose their motivation. Without motivation, your subordinates may only report to work to earn a monthly salary. They will no longer strive to make your company succeed. As a leader, you should identify who your internal customer is and treat them well. If these employees are happy, they will serve your external customers well. If an external customer receives excellent support from your internal customer, they will come back and keep spreading the word about your business.

Helping you understand who an internal customer is

What is an internal customer – meaning? One thing to understand first is the difference between an internal customer and an external customer. The former works within an organization and receives orders from another person who has a higher rank. They don’t have a choice other than to follow instructions as given by their supervisor or manager. Even if they are unhappy, internal customers cannot abandon their job unless they want to lose it.

On the other hand, an external customer pays a company to obtain a product or service. If they are unhappy with what’s provided by the company, external customers can abandon the mission and choose a different vendor.

Who can an internal customer be in an organization?

An internal customer can be anyone in your company. They can be workers, departments, suppliers, procurement staff, or anyone guided by another to perform their role correctly. If one department causes a delay or an error that affects another department or employee, the offended will work together with the offender to find a solution. They will not quit. All will work as a team to produce a final product sold to an external customer. As a retail shift supervisor, you would likely consider your shift team and managers as an internal customer. Your shift team will take orders from you every time there is a new step to follow, while your managers will require crucial information from you to make better managerial decisions.

Why is outstanding internal customer service vital?

One thing that could make internal customer service outstanding is efficient communication. If an internal customer understands and does everything they can to complete their job successfully, communication is efficient enough. All departments should coordinate and cooperate to produce excellent internal customer service too. Without agreeing on correct procedures to follow and the expected results, conflicts could arise. These conflicts could affect the internal customer service. Besides, suppose a company focuses on creating effective internal customer service. In that case, it can increase productivity, enhance communication between departments, boost employees’ morale, align goals, and replace competition among departments with cooperation. The result will be excellent products and services for the external customer. Healthy and strong internal customer relations will produce happy external customers who will always come back for more.


Check out the Procurimo free trial - an online tool for organizing daily purchasing in your organization




We have helped you understand the internal customer – meaning. It is now upon you to identify who they are in your organization. Once you know who they are, you can provide everything they need to perform their job well and gain satisfaction from their work. You can keep them motivated to help the company retain old external customers and acquire new ones.