Making sure your customers are pleased
What does customer loyalty actually mean when it comes to HR and why is it important? If excellence in customer focus is dependent on the quality and durability of the relationships between HR and its various customers it follows that HR needs to have a compelling proposition so our customers willingly keep coming back to us.
Relationships, by their very nature, are transitory and relatively fragile so it is important HR has the track record of consistent delivery and quality alongside a good amount of credibility. The better able HR is to achieve this, the greater chance that its customers will be loyal – in other words, customers will be less inclined to outsource, bypass, ignore or overrule HR. Now that has to be good news for all concerned!
So, developing excellent customer relationships ensures HR is providing a business aligned service. It is also, as research shows, supporting their customers deliver increased profitability and growth through positively impacting on the following variables: Employee capability; Employee satisfaction; Employee productivity; Employees’ ability to deliver good value to customers; Customer satisfaction; Customer loyalty.
For example, employee capability—built by hiring the right people, giving them training, support, latitude, and rewards—promotes employee job satisfaction. When employees enjoy their work and believe they are making a difference, employee engagement increases —they tend to stay longer, to become more productive and knowledgeable. Such employee loyalty, in turn, creates greater customer satisfaction. After all, customers are more likely to be happy when they are being served by motivated employees who take the time to get to know their specific needs and circumstances. Not surprisingly, happy customers tend to buy more from the company and also to refer other customers to the company more frequently. Therefore, customer satisfaction breeds customer loyalty and ultimately profitability.
Therefore, customer service for HR has a direct impact on employees and external customers. At CourageousHR we focus on the three pillars of Customer Focus.
Creating a customer service culture
Creating a customer service culture within HR is important because it is only by everyone in the HR Community being committed to delivering a consistent and continuously improving customer service that HR will have the credibility, profile, influence and support to demonstrate the business value of HR.
To achieve this it is important HR has a common understanding and approach to what excellent customer service should look like; Defining what this means for all HR roles; Developing and practicing a consistent understanding and approach to how to communicate with customers, constructive problem resolution and taking ownership for the customer experience (i.e. tracking progress and ensuring – where appropriate – that it is resolved appropriately within HR); Identifying the ‘gap’ between the existing level and practices of customer service and the desired level in order to work up a transition plan on how to bridge the gap
Creating a continuous improvement culture
This is all about developing insight into the ‘customer journey’ and understanding the importance of managing, meeting and where possible exceeding their expectations. This can be achieved through adopting a common approach to continuously improving the customer experience as well as seeking ways to raise the overall ‘performance bar’ for HR.
Just as important is the need to define roles and responsibilities for customer service across the HR Community and how to work with each other to ensure the customer experience is always improving and that ‘lessons learnt’ are communicated, success stories marketed and best practices become common practice.
Making sure your customers are pleased
Start with the premise that your customer is always right.
- This may sound a bit strange but customer service is primarily about attitude. Therefore, if your starting point is to provide excellent customer service you are less likely to be defensive and do everything possible (within reason) to make sure the customer is pleased.
However, there are two occasions when the customer is not right:
- The customer is doing something or wants you to do something that is unsafe, illegal, or unethical
- The customer wants something that, in the long run, is unsustainable.
- For example: The customer wants a HR service delivered in a manner or a time frame that will interfere with the quality of your work or impact the needs of other customers; The customer wants a service that is not financially viable or goes against the strategic direction of HR.
The relationship between HR and its customers is a dynamic, ongoing process based on constant two-way communication and responsiveness. The difference between average and excellent HR Functions is how effectively they generate feedback, listen to it, communicate the information internally, and act on it. Instead of "telling" through constant advertising and hard-sell pitches, HR must focus on "listening."
To find out how CourageousHR can support the development of your HR Function please email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a call to discuss your specific development needs.