Contemporary issues in managing
Contemporary issues in managing

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Contemporary issues in managing

Session 2: Managing through internal marketing

Employees who interact directly with the organisation’s external customers can enjoy a satisfying and rewarding experience. However, responding to the often-varied requirements of external customers can also be highly stressful for customer-facing employees. Managing employees as a form of internal customer requires an understanding of the challenges that you and other employees encounter in day to day interactions with external customers.

Described image
Figure 7 Responding to the requirements of external customers can be stressful

Employees have been recognised as an essential focus for marketing theory and practice since Berry, Hensel and Burke (1976) introduced the term ‘internal marketing’ into marketing literature. There are many perspectives on the core features of an internal marketing approach. These include:

  • the development of internal (employee, management and organisation) relationships
  • an emphasis on communication and trust in these relationships
  • the importance of knowledge sharing
  • the role of leadership in creating a shared vision, values and organisational identification
  • an emphasis on competence building through training and education.

Supporters of internal marketing highlight its potential to achieve organisational objectives, improving both customer and employee satisfaction. Grönroos (1981) distinguishes between strategic and tactical approaches to internal marketing. At a strategic level, this can include the adoption of supportive management styles, e.g. human resources policies and customer service training. At a tactical level, it can include ongoing training, e.g. the encouragement of formal and informal communications, such as newsletters; and internal segmentation.

Activity 4 Do employees have to be perfect?

Timing: Allow around 20 minutes for this activity

Watch the following video, which lasts around one and a half minutes:

Video 2 Dealing with difficult people [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

What do you think are the main messages in the video for managing customer–contact employees? Record your thoughts in the text box below.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


Factors which you might have recorded include:

  • the degree of autonomy/control/flexibility afforded to staff in responding to customers
  • the training needs of employees who deal with difficult customers
  • the need for support for employees who deal with difficult customers.

The goals of internal marketing are both long term and qualitative. For example, these might include ‘enhanced customer consciousness throughout the organisation’ or ‘improved market performance’. You would expect to have a number of objectives in order to achieve each goal. These would be shorter term, more specific and measurable. For example, for the former, this may include the number of customer-focused suggestions for process improvement from staff. For the latter, it might be ‘X per cent increase in market share; X per cent increase in repeat purchase or customer satisfaction’.

In order to achieve the goal of ‘successful’ internal marketing, organisations need to come up with an internal marketing plan. It is this you will look at next.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371