Providing the best possible service - Customer focus #1
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Under promise and over deliver

Under promising and over delivering might sound to some like a con trick but let’s be honest, HR normally has the reputation of doing the exact opposite – over promising and under delivering. Is this why research continually highlights HR’s customers are disappointed with our service?

However, at CourageousHR we don’t see why things can’t change for the better if HR follows (and consistently sticks to!) a few simple golden rules and practices of Customer Service. This series of blogs are inspired by our own experiences and the pearls of wisdom and great practices we have gleaned from our clients and friends from across the continents.

Some questions for you: What is it that HR offers? What is HR ‘selling’? Who are HR’s customers? What are the implications for HR’s customers if we fail to deliver on what we promise (financial, reputation, quality etc….). Before you carry on reading this blog make sure you have some sense of what the answers might be for you so that you can start immediately making the changes and improvements in the customer service you offer.

HR is a Service Provider

Our starting point has to be to recognise that HR’s reputation rises and falls in direct correlation with the quality of the key customer relationships we have within our organisation. HR is a Service Provider and therefore the longer a positive HR relationship lasts with a customer, the more we both accomplish together. As a long-term relationship grows it becomes more and more effective, results in higher levels of credibility and trust as well, increased innovativeness and creativity which in turn affects the company’s profitability.

What this means in practice is that HR’s customers are people not business units, geographies, product lines etc…. but PEOPLE, from the most senior leaders to contract staff. HR is in the people business and (apparently) we are meant to be experts at it so building right relationships is an absolute cornerstone to the quality of HR’s customer focus.

This means HR needs to strike a balance between ‘delighting our customers’ whilst also being an employee advocate. To achieve this balance means that HR cannot be an ‘ivory-tower’ function nor should it be so closely aligned to the business that it loses its’ independence, voice and impartiality. The key to success lies in HR’s ability to constantly interact with its customers, seeking out information about them and from them so that they are able to continuously deliver a high quality- customer led integrated HR service.

The best HR Professionals recognise that delivering great customer service is essential for them and their HR Community’s success. Critically, they appreciate that they are representing HR to their customers – they are the face of HR. As such, they have a responsibility to ensure their customers have the confidence that HR has a very good understanding of what their needs are, are clear what they expect from HR and there is common view on how HR can best support them.

This means to excel at Customer Focus requires a blend of skills and outlook.

  • Just so there is no doubt about this, HR is a service provider and therefore everyone in HR needs to have a customer service attitude (sounds simple enough but amazing how much resistance you can come up against)
  • There is a clearly defined process within HR for getting close to and staying alongside customers
  • Sounds obvious but worth stating that HR needs to have a commercial understanding of their organisation so it is able to understand the various people implications i.e. how it makes and spends its money, the products and services it offers, competitors, consumers, marketplaces, resources etc...
  • Having an eye to the future whilst not losing sight of what is going on today. People take time to change so we suggest HR needs to be constantly looking into its crystal ball to see what could happen in the medium to long term so that people strategies and policies can be flexed and adapted to anticipate – rather than react to – the rapidly changing marketplace
  • Focus on facts as well as sentiment. There is often little harm in following your ‘gut reaction’ but try and balance this with a fact based approach. This will hopefully provide enough data to justify any decisions taken.

To find out how CourageousHR can support the development of your HR Function please email [email protected] to arrange a call to discuss your specific development needs.