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HR is Customer Service

How many of you out there have ever had a bad customer service experience? Ok, harder question, how many of you can remember the last time you had a really good customer service experience? Harder to remember those ones isn’t it? However, when you do get really poor or really good customer service, you tend to remember it – for a loooong time, which is why it is critical for HR Pros to remember that we are all in the customer service business.

This concept really hit home for me a few weeks ago when I had to take my truck into the dealership for routine maintenance. Fairly soon, after my truck went into the shop, I was informed that there were other parts that needed replacement and the cost was going to be quite significant. Of course, I was not happy to hear this as my vehicle was only a few years old; however, the service advisor on the phone was quite diligent in explaining why they needed to be replaced, what the cause was and he gave me an estimate of labour and costs. So far I am not happy about the surprise repair but I was happy about the detailed explanation, so far so good.

Customer ServiceUpon returning to get my vehicle, I was confused by the final bill. My original maintenance package that I had brought the truck in for was supposed to take 1 hr. I was charged an additional 2 hours of labour for my “additional” repairs; however, the total time my car was at the dealership was 2 hours – TOTAL. When I questioned the bill with the service advisor, he was not able to explain the breakdown of labour, how the overall math didn’t work, etc. He simply cited some company lines about “needing two guys to work on the truck”, this is “just how things work” and “that is what the charge code came up at on the computer”, etc. When I asked if two guys worked on my truck he said, “No.” Huh!? Not surprisingly, I left the dealership that day very frustrated and angry and felt taken advantage of. I am now questioning if I will even purchase that make of vehicle any more.

The whole experience got me to thinking – what if I ran my HR dept. this way? I certainly think that I wouldn’t even be in charge of an HR dept. if the customer service we provided was that poor! The entire experience really hit home for me as I could really see the parallels between HR and providing good customer service. They are one and the same as you can’t have one without the other. Let’s face it, at the end of the day, we as HR Pros are in the customer service business.

We need to be attentive to our customers’ needs – whether those needs are employees with basic inquiries or require advice, or managers who need a hiring solution. Either way, we need to be attentive, responsive and wherever possible, proactive. The service (level) that we provide needs to be so good, that our (internal) customers will want to do repeat business with us. Great customer service means repeat and loyal customers. Great customer service results in customers who spread the word about the excellent service they received and will encourage other customers to use the service. This is one of the basic tenants of how to entrench HR within the lines of business in any organization.
Far too often I have seen HR depts. run without any concept of customer service in mind. Employees are treated like a nuisance, an interruption to the day, as opposed to the reason the HUMAN Resources dept. exists! These companies have employees that utilize HR when/because they have no other choice. For all intents and purposes, HR is a necessary evil for staff and I am sure they are convinced some Catbert type of individual is in charge of the department!

The moral of the story is this, as HR Pros, we are in the customer service business. That means you need to know your customer, understand your customer and be attentive to your customer. You accomplish this by having outstanding active listening skills and by embracing a service mindset – from the head of the HR dept. to your front line HR Generalist’s.  You need to keep in mind the reason for your department’s existence – to support the organization’s human resources. By providing excellent customer service and making it part of your HR DNA, you will have embraced this mindset.

What about you? Do you agree that HR is customer service? As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net


4 Responses

  1. Again, another great blog Scott. I love reading your blogs. I completely feel this way about HR being Customer Service. In relation to your vehicle and those charges, I don’t know if I would have let it go so easily. 🙂

    • Thanks again for reading and commenting DeNeen. Glad you made a connection to the post. re. the truck – I made a decision on whether it was a fight worth fighting. I chose to speak with my wallet and not buy from that dealership again. Hard to say if it was the right call or not….lol

  2. Hi Scott, this is a great blog that will be shared. I like the notion of how customer service and HR should go hand-in-hand. I was a grocery store clerk for many years and am currently pursuing my bachelor’s degree in HR. Where I currently work, I have seen a high turnover of excellent HR professionals who had to get away from the “un-organization” of the HR department and higher ups. The HR department here makes the field unattractive. Since I had a difficult time getting advice or assistance from the HR professionals, I plan to look elsewhere for employment upon graduating. It needs to be shouted that HR professionals should provide employees with good customer service just as they would want from any business. Thank you.

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