HR Needs to Measure
Their Customer Service Effectiveness
by Sharlyn Lauby September 14
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At the risk of sounding like a well-worn cliché, if human resources wants business partner status, they need to be prepared to produce, discuss and be held accountable to the numbers. But in today’s competitive business environment, defining what numbers human resources needs to track can be a moving target.
Yes, human resources needs to calculate “traditional” metrics like time to fill and cost per hire. At this point, those metrics should be a staple in every HR department. A new metric that I see being attached to human resources is customer service. We have a tendency to think of customer service in the context of external customers, and we forget that employees are customers too.
Some people might argue that the notion of employees as internal customers is very 1980’s, but hear me out. With today’s social media, we rely upon employees to be brand ambassadors for our product or service. With the war for talent, we look to employees to give us referrals for our next hire. And in our competitive business environment, we want employees to refer customers. Heck, we even want former employees to be raving fans of our business.
So, are employees internal customers? You bet they are!
That means HR has to start developing and reporting metrics that reflect their customer service skills. Here are three examples that HR can use as a starting point:
Requests received by HR – Human resources should track how many requests are made of the department. In addition, it might be interesting to break those requests down by employee versus manager, full-time versus part-time, or by department/location.
Types of requests – Human resources can learn a lot from understanding the subject of requests. For example, getting several requests during open enrollment might be a good thing. Employees should be asking questions about their insurance coverage. But, an influx of requests about a newly implemented policy might signal confusion.
Closing rate – HR needs to monitor how fast they respond to employee issues as well as the time it takes to resolve requests. Those are two different things. Obviously, employees want to feel that their request is being acknowledged, so response time is important. But issues cannot linger for long periods of time. That sends the message that questions to HR fall into some sort of “black hole.”
Once HR has those numbers, they can use the information to raise issues and improve internal customer service:
Staffing levels and scheduling - Instead of HR simply saying, “We need more headcount.” the numbers can offer some backup regarding how HR spends their time in relation to their goals.
Potential training needs - An abundance of questions on a specific topic might signal incomprehension or confusion. HR can use the data to determine next steps in terms of employee education or training.
Overall HR effectiveness - During a time when productivity and profits are on everyone’s mind, this is an opportunity to show HR’s ability to contribute to the bottom-line.
The goal here isn’t to create an administrative burden for human resources. That’s why organizations need to consider putting a system in place to track employee requests from start to finish. Even better, organizations should find a technology solution that will automate this task and make reporting consistent and effortless. The focus should be on developing an internal customer service approach because it’s beneficial to the entire organization. Employees get answers. Human resources operates effectively and efficiently. Then the organization benefits from everyone working in a productive manner.
Sharlyn Lauby is the HR Bartender and president of ITM Group Inc., a South Florida based training and human resources consulting firm focused on helping companies retain and engage talent.
Sharlyn sees human resources as a strategic partner - the marketing department for a company’s internal clients rather as administrative. During her 20+ years in the profession, she has earned a reputation for bringing business solutions to reality.
Prior to starting ITM Group, Sharlyn was vice president of human resources for Right Management Consultants, one of the world’s largest organizational consulting firms. She has designed and implemented highly successful programs for employee retention, internal and external customer satisfaction, and leadership development. Publications such as Reuters, The New York Times, ABC News, TODAY, Readers Digest, Men’s Health and The Wall Street Journal have sought out her expertise on topics related to human resources and workplace issues.