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It’s about the people: Part 1

March 31, 2014

Why HR professionals are important in customer experience

People are at the center of both providing and receiving customer experiences. It is 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 recent #CXO Twitter chat where participants expressed both hope and doubt about HR’s role in CX efforts. For example, HR groups sometimes have a narrow scope of compliance paperwork and policy enforcement and sometimes strictly administrative facilitation of processes for hiring, onboarding, training, evaluating and compensating employees, but 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? 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.'—@neverstoppever
  • What 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 real value of the survey insights are in action. For example, 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 two of this Twitter chat recap, 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.