Internal Marketing & Employee Engagement: How to Understand Right?
If the role of great service quality for customer satisfaction could not be denied widely, the contribution of internal marketing for a great production of service quality is, similarly, undoubtably crucial for success of any organizations.
Internal Marketing is the strong enabler of employee engagement.
The key perspective of internal marketing is on the necessity of employees in getting along well with customers. It means that survival and business success depend on the right focus on internal marketing by strategic appropriateness of hiring, training and motivating internal customers, i.e. employees in order to satisfy customers in the same way. In the nature of disciplines, internal marketing has the bridging relationship between employees, organizational competences and customer satisfaction addressing business results.
What is internal marketing? Although it was first mentioned from almost 5 decades ago as a crucial construct for high and consistent service quality (Berry, et al., 1976), confusion is still corroding the proper design, implementation and upholding of its benefits. In the nutshell of understanding, internal marketing is correlated with the performing of available internal products (jobs/ tasks/ projects, daily activities, etc.) in the way that satisfying the needs of a vital internal market (employees) by which organizational objectives will be satisfied (Berry, et al., 1976, 8).
From the perspective of interaction between internal and external customers, what they all share in common is that customer is inside the companies. It means we can think of internal marketing as considering employees as internal customers, jobs/ tasks/ projects/ etc. as internal products and the big task of organizations is to satisfy needs and expectations of these internal customers through intensive offerings, e.g. HRM interventions, policies and practices based on the matching with organizational goals. In the second thoughts, those who buy offerings in the role of customers and those who buy job in the role of employees are actually the same people. Therefore, the exchange relationship between employers and employees is no less real than that kind of relationship between customers and companies (Berry, 1981, 34).
Many definitions of internal marketing have been discussed; yet, the nutshell of thoughts is toward the utilization of two main functions of marketing and human resources management which is paved by allied theories, techniques, and principles to encourage, motivate, mobilize, co-operate and supervise/ manage employees at all levels. This results in the continuous improvements of how they produce tasks and serve external stakeholders and each other (Joseph, 1996, 55). As the enthronement of internal employees’ roles in business success and aggressive changes of business environment, internal marketing is much more to satisfy cognitive and basic demands of employees; but creating emotional connections for long-term engagement. Modern thoughts define internal marketing as the promotion of visions and missions, goals, and cultures, etc. of organizations to 𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗼𝘆𝗲𝗲𝘀’ 𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗵𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗮𝘀𝗺 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵 𝗲𝗺𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 with brand names of companies.
Internal marketing is one of the enablers of employee engagement. In that concept, internal customers are putting in the central of being listened, i.e. employees’ voice; integrity, i.e. reflecting powerful values and day-to-day behaviors of employees on performing tasks or working behaviors; enabling employees’ autonomy, i.e. employee empowerment; and being communicated intensively with right updates and shared visions. This enabler framework is fostered and different as organization culture and management/ leadership style at companies. Participative leaders tend to update offer strategic and igniting narratives answering the curiosity of employees such as ‘where is the firm be?’, ‘where our organization will be going?’, and so on.
With the suitable promotion of internal products to satisfy internal customers, organizations enhance the power of its internal force. Satisfied workforce with strong emotional connections tend stay longer with higher engagement level toward the jobs and organizational outcomes. They contribute to the growth and prosperity of organizations by their guarantee of high-quality service provision to customers.
Written by April, T. – MD, Strategic Planning & Expansion of J.A. Experts
J.A. Consulting by J.A. Experts
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Berry, L. L. (1981). The employee as customer. Journal of Retail Banking, 3(1), 33-40
Berry, L. L., Hensel, J. S. and Burke, M. C. (1976). Improving retailer capability for effective consumerism response. Journal of Retailing, 52(3), 3-14
Joseph, W. B. (1996). Internal marketing builds service quality. Journal of Health Care Marketing, 16(1), 54-59.
Next thought: Internal marketing enabling employee engagement: why and how?