Although the economy goes up and down, the competition to acquire and retain truly talented individuals rarely lets up. When you are running a good company offering great products and services, you can usually attract talented individuals to join your company. I would argue that this is not going to be enough to make a lasting impact. Your next concerns are: will they stay loyal to you over time and will they stay engaged and productive in your organization?
I believe there are a lot of lessons we can learn from customer service that can be applied to HR services. A focus on employee loyalty that is patterned after the way you focus on customer service is crucial. So what can we learn from customer service over the years? It has been a curious thing to watch companies push to save money on customer service. Long queues, poor connections, difficulty in understanding and communicating with service agents, scripted responses that often do not adequately address the customer’s issue, little to no authority for the agent to do the right thing…all of us have had a challenging customer service experience that exhibits some of these characteristics. If it happens a lot with the same company, you start to dread interacting with that company and may bring your business elsewhere. On the flip side, companies can earn tremendous respect, credibility and ultimately increased market share with good customer service.
I bought a MacBook Air a couple of years ago and I had some specific questions that I wanted answered. I was pleasantly surprised when a customer service person answered the phone after 3 rings and stayed with me through a half hour of questions – seemingly not in a hurry. At that time, my experience with other laptop manufacturers was so poor that I couldn’t believe Apple would invest in their customer service that way. I was under the impression that everyone would go broke if they offered that level of customer service; it turns out that Apple has just continued to grow since. I purchased the MacBook Air that day through the website, in some part due to the customer service I received. They gained my loyalty, where other vendors had lost my loyalty due to their poor service.
More recently I have been watching the Discover Card ads on Hulu. The ones where they have the single actor pose as two different people with the message: “We treat you like you’d treat you”. It made me think more about the job of HR service within a company.
HR is Internal Customer Service
Winning the hearts and minds of your employees is not that different than the lessons learned about customer service.
1. Be human: no one likes non-personal, automated responses.
2. Treat others as you’d like to be treated. (I am pretty sure Discover can’t trademark that.)
3. Consider quality HR service as an asset to your company, not a cost center.
When these things are taken into account you will purchase, integrate and build HR systems that support a high level of customer service and find out that it may not cost any more money to do it right the first time. There are great ways to reduce spending on HR services while maintaining a high-level of internal customer service. It has to start with clear, service-oriented goals.
We regularly work with customers that are using (or seeking to implement) technology to enhance HR processes, onboarding and communications. In this work we encourage clients to put humans at the forefront of the experience to ensure that process serves the people, not the other way around.