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Why Customer Experience Excellence Requires HR Engagement 

Lynn Hunsaker | Apr 6, 2015 1,107 views 3 Comments

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HR role in customer experience managementPeople are at the center of providing or receiving customer experiences. And it’s commonly accepted that engaged employees are a prerequisite to high-value, engaged customers. So, it stands to reason that Human Resources (HR) departments have great potential to influence customer experience (CX).

This topic was discussed in a chat on twitter, where participants expressed both hope and doubt about HR’s role in CX efforts:

  • Doubts arose about HR groups’ sometimes narrow scope of compliance paperwork and policy enforcement, and sometimes strictly administrative facilitation of processes for hiring, onboarding, training, evaluating, and compensating employees.
  • Hope was expressed about HR group’s H2H (human-to-human) skills and aspirations to enable operational excellence and cultural transformation.

 To set the stage, HR should view their role in a customer experience context: who are HR’s customers, and what can HR do to support what external customers expect of the company. Engaging HR professionals with their internal customers and with the company’s strategic intent of CX management is viewed as very important to CX success.

Strategic Contributions

  • I’d like to see HR be an active contributor to the CX vision. It would help chart the course for the org’s competitive advantage. @Lynn_Teo
  • Answering the question “How does our org structure best serve our customers?” @thecxguy
  • CX governance structure: what does the company need, according to the organization and customers? @stephaniethum
  • Improve customer experience by eliminating CX functional boundaries. @clearaction

Cultural Guidance

  • Company culture that embraces CX can be a huge selling point. @thecxguy
  • Make sure employees buy into the ‘Why’ not just the ‘What.’ @neverstoppeverWhat is happening with employees is what will be reflected to customers: use #VoE as window to CX realities. @clearaction
  • If employee engagement is high and customer satisfaction is low, then you know you’ve got troubles. @stephaniethum
  • HR & Sales are sometimes the most human-to-human (H2H) functions: can help rest of company “keep it real” for CX excellence. @clearaction
  • Build conversational culture where everyone’s opinion has equal value. @mt_marko
  • CX is a 360-degree concept: if employees (not just front-line) feel trusted, they will convey trust to customers. @clearaction
  • Both CX and HR require high emotional intelligence. @BeyondMorale
  • Ensure that the right balance of tech/ empathy/ personal interaction is kept. @tcrawford

Traditional HR roles – hiring, development, recognition — can be of greater value to the company when they are managed within the context of the company’s CX goals.

Hiring

  • You must have alignment between your actual candidate experience and your desired customer experience. @thecxguy
  • Use VoC (voice-of-the-customer) to identify strengths needed among CX team. CX team members with experience in various roles across company have greatest ability to influence co-wide. @clearaction
  • I’ve seen success when new hires fully understand the vision, and their role in it. Job satisfaction = I make a difference. @iamLivingston

Development

  • Make CX part of annual performance evaluation. Link to service standards. @stephaniethum
  • Revising job descriptions with CX context for *everyone* in company could go a long way toward CX excellence. @clearaction
  • Weave CX into all courses; don’t treat it always as a standalone / add-on. @clearaction
  • Tell stories. Then tell more stories about telling stories. @thecxguy
  • Your best ideas for employee engagement + training originate with customer feedback. @stephaniethum
  • To improve employee listening skills where customer is concerned, make that a key criterion in hiring, promotions, etc. @jameskobielus
  • Identify the behaviors needed for better CX & use as criteria for bonus pay, performance reviews, promotions (all levels/functions). @clearaction

Recognition

  • Nothing feels & drives better that good customer feedback and thanks from management published in intranet. @mt_marko
  • From aggregate positive sentiment data to individual instances of praise, customer feedback is a prime motivator for employees. @eullman
  • Use of *team* recognition, cross-functional silo-busting org development methods for CX success is weak. Retroactive recognition & individual recognition may not be best for the cross-functional anticipatory needs of CX. @clearaction

 Many customer experience excellence endeavors in companies begin with a survey, service training, customer engagement campaign, CRM technology or similar program. Over time, CX professionals gain an appreciation for the limitations of their work without people “being on the same page” in their work.  The survey insights are only so valuable until people act on them. Service training reaps benefits in inverse proportion to the rest of the company preventing extraneous service needs. And so forth with each effort to manage CX.

HR can make a difference in the company’s CX results by seeing their work within the bigger picture of external customers’ needs, and by helping executives establish a customer-focused big picture in strategy and culture. The core roles of HR – hiring, developing and recognizing employees – can help the company reach CX goals by managing these roles with a CX backdrop. With people at the center of customer experience, HR is a critical cog in the wheel of CX management.

In Part 2 of this article next week, see how HR can expand value to the company and its CX goals by facilitating knowledge management, employee engagement, and cross-functional collaboration. And see how data can provide HR with meaningful insights to maximizing ROI of the work done by HR and employees collectively.

Originally published on IBM Big Data & Analytics Hub.  The #CXOchat can be found at http://CrowdChat.net. 

Photo purchased under license subscription from Shutterstock.

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1,107 views

3 Responses to Why Customer Experience Excellence Requires HR Engagement

  1. Michael Lowenstein April 6, 2015 at 9:22 am (1197 comments) #

    Jack Welch always identified HR leaders as being critical to customer-centricity, sort of like heads of player personnel in a professional sports franchise. If an enterprise company is serious about building and sustaining a culture of employee ambassadorship, it’s essential that HR be a key player: http://customerthink.com/do-you-really-wanna-work-here/

  2. Eric Engwall April 8, 2015 at 8:12 am (6 comments) #

    Lynn – great summary of the chat, which raises a number of key issues. We regularly see organizations that either ignore or struggle with the HR implications when truly embracing CX initiatives.

    Evaluating the level of customer focus in hiring decisions, performance evaluations, promotion decisions, etc. – all should be reviewed and updated in order to improve the overall customer experience. Few organizations seem ready to look to their HR group and its existing processes for ways to improve the overall CX. Training is the one exception – which many of us know is seen as a silver bullet.

    Looking forward to Part II!

  3. Lynn Hunsaker April 8, 2015 at 9:19 am (100 comments) #

    Thanks, Eric. Where I’ve seen things break down is in assigning HR to do it, or borrowing someone from HR to be a liaison. What worked best for me was to sit down with each corporate HR function leader, such as Compensation & Benefits, Training & Development, OD, etc. When I met with each of these function leaders separately I was able to tailor the conversation to building from strengths, finding points of convergence, and co-developing a roadmap to integrate today what managers could readily adopt and plant seeds for successive sophistication over the next fiscal quarters/years.

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