Treat Your Coworkers Like Customers

Treat Your Coworkers Like Customers


When was the last time you said, “Wow, they’ve got great customer service here?”

Maybe it was at a restaurant when a server provided a recommendation for a delicious appetizer. Maybe it was at a bank when a clerk helped you solve a complex financial problem. Or maybe it was at the front desk of Fleming College Toronto when a student support advisor helped you find your classroom.

Regardless of when or where this positive experience took place, it probably made you feel valued, respected and heard. Wouldn’t it be great if all interactions were like that? Especially our interactions at work?

Well, maybe they can be. Maybe if we use our customer service skills when speaking with coworkers, we can help create better work environments for everyone. Maybe, as the title of this post suggests, we should treat our coworkers like customers!

Why are customer service skills important in any job?

We often think of customer service as involving a business-to-consumer (B2C) relationship, as in the above examples. However, customer service skills are applicable to just about every work relationship. Consider the following:

  • Marketing: If you work for a marketing department in a large company, you will have to use customer service skills when other departments make content requests.
  • IT: If you work in IT, customer service skills are essential for helping other employees solve technology problems.
  • Management: If you’re a manager, customer service skills can be employed when assigning tasks or conducting job interviews.

The list is endless, really. Nearly every job you can think of has an element of customer service. But what exactly constitutes good customer service?

Using Customer Service Skills in the Workplace

Good customer service skills involve three simple steps that are applicable to any work interaction with virtually any co-worker.

Active Listening:

Listen patiently to what the other person needs. Focus on every word that they say and respond in a way that makes them feel heard. Pay attention to body language and voice tone to determine an appropriate response.


Few people are able to express precisely what they want, so you need to ask questions and read between the lines. Never ask, “What do you mean?” This kind of question can sound demeaning. Rather than focusing on a customer’s or coworkers’ inability to express themselves, focus on your own ability to understand. “Did I understand correctly?” is much better than, “What do you mean?”


Good customer service requires action. Even if you think a request is impossible to fulfill, you should still try to help the requester. This will make them feel valued.  

The Value of Building a Transferable Skill

Once you start thinking about how customer service is applicable to any job, every interaction becomes an opportunity for growth. 

Maybe you’re working a part-time job at a café and you often feel like you’re wasting your time because you want to be a project manager or supply chain analyst after graduation.

However, all the customer service skills that you develop while working at a café could certainly be useful in either of those roles. If you keep this in mind, all your interactions at work will become more meaningful and related to your personal goals. After all, customer service skills are life skills. You will be using them for the duration of your career, no matter the job, so you might as well start developing them now!

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