Building Loyalty With Internal Customers

In this three-part series, Graham Williams of Centre-ing Services ( and Michael Cusack of On Line Customer Care ( examine trends which have a major impact on how business leaders and HR practitioners will in future need to maximize their organization’s human assets. In this final article of the series they look more closely at the elements of technology, "ladders," and the economics of exchange.

In order for the loyalty progression to develop over time, a system must be built that is founded on a number of key principles. These principles, or components of our ‘holistic’ system, form the acronym CASTLE.

The elements of the model are:

In last issue's article, we detailed the first three of those; now it's time to complete the model.

Technology That Enables

The Employee Relationship Management structure must consider all interactions between the employee and the organization. In terms of enabling technology and systems, this means capturing, storing and accessing sound backend data about employees, good communication and information-transfer technology, and easy to use front-ends on the employees’ office desk and home desk consoles. Some of the employee relationship aims of this technology are:

But, as Bill Gates says: "If you don’t believe that all workers have the potential to contribute to your company’s success, all the technology in the world won’t empower them." There is no doubt that the application of technology and software as described above can greatly assist with improved employee relationships. However, they should never be seen to be a replacement of any of the other aspects of our CASTLE framework. (It’s akin to driving a car by either automatic or manual means. Greater skill is needed to drive manually and competent manual driving will always outperform automatic driving.) Deep understanding of and competent application of the "people basics" remains the foundation to which suitable enabling technology may be added.


The ERM system should encourage each and every employee to honestly ask of themselves the following choice - question:


This becomes a way of streamlining and making career-pathing exercises more appropriate, and for customising employee mentoring, coaching and development programs.

Economics of Exchange

Paul Malherbe has postulated that earned EXCHANGE entitlement and opportunity is the basic principle of economic well-being. He proposes that value and wealth (both material and intangible) are created through perceived fair, win-win exchanges between two parties (but which carry benefit for all involved along the "production of value" line), and that various exchange types satisfy the whole person: physical, intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual.

Clearly the exchange between employee and employer consists of much more than simply payment for work performed. In the new world of work, we need to think far beyond such a narrow boundary. The employer/employee exchange is also about adult/adult relating, sharing, creating value together, providing opportunities to learn and grow together, and voluntary interdependence.

Employees resent management-imposed solutions and systems, will always ask "How will this threaten who I am and what I do?" and "What’s in it for me?" And in exchange for transparency and opportunity, will always freely give of their knowledge and skill, and show accountability.

The act of giving in the context of providing a comprehensive ERM system increases employability but paradoxically raises loyalty. "Loyalty" is no longer falsely locked in by pensions to come, loans to be repaid, the use of a company vehicle, and other fringe benefits. Nor is an employee decision to stay with the organization a function of the cost of leaving. Rather, it is a function of real, earned loyalty. A very different exchange value.

Businesses only grow if competent, supported employees are motivated to make the organization grow. Employees value belonging to something worthwhile, being respected, supported, trusted, appreciated, recognized, being a part of achieving something worthwhile, and developing our own potential. It follows that organizations that earnestly seek to meet these "internal customer" needs give themselves much better odds at:

Organizations would do well to follow the progression and principles which govern our ERM "system". The CASTLE model for managing the nature, content and direction of relationships with employees is founded on:

All of which, in turn, helps to drive profitability.


Malherbe, Paul. N.: A Pragmatic Approach to THE CREATION OF VALUE, ENRICHMENT AND PROSPERITY (author published, Cape Town, 2000)

Gates, Bill , with Hemingway, Collins: BUSINESS @ THE SPEED OF THOUGHT (Penguin Books, 2000)


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