3 Things HR Can Learn from Great Customer Service

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More than anything else, great customer service is about respect: respect for the customer as an individual,  respect for the customer’s time and respect for the customer’s point of view—even when it seems off base.

It’s Not About You

Variations of the statement: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” have been attributed to Theodore Roosevelt and John C. Maxwell, among others. This phrase has been used time and again to illustrate a fundamental principle in leadership, sales, and customer service. The same principle was restated by Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Effective People as habit number 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Whether you call it respect, empathy, customer-centric thinking or getting over yourself; great customer service means putting your ego aside to focus on the needs of the customer. It means letting go of being right in favor of moving forward.  

HR could learn a lot from great customer service by replacing “customer” with “employee” and embracing this principle.

Feedback is Golden

People who provide great customer service see feedback and legitimate complaint as an opportunity to shine. After all, the most loyal customers are those who’ve been disappointed and then subsequently experience an awesome recovery. Harvard Business Review describes this phenomenon in The Profitable Art of Service Recovery, where the authors write:

“While companies may not be able to prevent all problems, they can learn to recover from them. A good recovery can turn angry, frustrated customers into loyal ones. It can, in fact, create more goodwill than if things had gone smoothly in the first place.”

When customers bring problems to a company that excels at customer service, they are listened to and heard—not patronized or brushed off with phrases like:

  • You have to understand that…..
  • That’s just the way we do things…
  • It’s always been done that way…
  • No one else has a problem with it…

The most valuable customer is one who provides feedback, creating an opportunity for improvement or recovery, rather than walking across the street to (or browsing the internet for) an alternate supplier. And just like those customers, employees often have great input to offer a receptive HR department.  

HR would do well to cultivate a workplace culture where feedback is golden and employees are listened to and heard.

It is About Marketing

Great customer service is not just for existing customers. It also creates a company brand in the marketplace that serves to attract (or repel) future customers. Let me offer an example.

The other day, listening to the radio while driving, I heard an announcement from State Farm Insurance. The speaker called out to all current State Farm policy holders who had experienced damage due to recent flooding in the area to call a toll free number where adjusters were standing by to process their claims. The speaker emphasized that State Farm’s primary objective was to help its policy holders “get back to normal” as soon as possible by processing their claims promptly. By the end of the announcement (an advertisement in disguise), I wished my home insurance was with State Farm, even though the flood missed us!

Following great customer service principles helps HR build an employer brand that existing employees are proud to be associated with and which serves as a magnet for future talent.  

There you have it, three things that HR can learn from great customer service: it’s not about you; feedback is golden; and it is about marketing. When HR harnesses the social and brand-building power of great customer service with current and future employees, it earns dividends in the most valuable of workplace currencies: job satisfaction, employee engagement, retention and recruitment.

 

TribeHR can help you support a culture of continuous improvement, where work life is an experiment and learning is ongoing. Start your free trial today

Forging Alliances between Employees and Employers

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The Remote Workforce is Less Remote

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Running Effective Meetings

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Growing Pains – HR Challenges in High Growth Companies

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Whether you call it HRM, HCM or simply the people side of work, Human Resources is a challenge in the best of times. Overlay its inherent complexity with a year-over-year growth rate of 30-50% or more and suddenly you’re juggling madly—with knives! Balboa Park Botanical Building, by Herb Neufeld, Wikimedia Commmons Whether rapid growth is happening in a small start-up that suddenly gains traction, or in a more established company that’s growing due to acquisition and globalization, there are some common challenges each will face as a result of unbridled success. HR Challenges in …

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Not a Mistake The problem with the word mistake is that it comes packaged with a weight of condemnation and is usually accompanied by shame, disappointment and sometimes even the fear that someone may stop liking us. But we need our mistakes. Without them we can’t learn or grow or change. If, instead, we think about mistakes as feedback in a loop of continuous experimentation and improvement, we can appreciate them as positive input into our development rather than weapons of self-destruction.  Flickr/StormKatt Learning from Failure There is a lot of talk lately about learning from …

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One of the greatest challenges inherent in any change initiative is making sure that new behaviors stick. It is easy fall back into old familiar habits once management focus shifts away from the change initiative and on to other things. What is not as clear is why, after weeks, or even months, of doing things differently, these newly established patterns can be knocked off track allowing old habits resurface. It Takes Time to Replace Old Behaviors They say it takes about 21 consecutive days to form a new habit. But it takes only a moment to break a new habit and …

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Recently, I watched a man using the self-check-out line at the grocery store for the first time. After a few attempts, he managed to scan his first item. With the can of soup in his hand, he immediately tried to scan another item. The machine wouldn’t work and told him to get help from an attendant. His frustration mounted. The attendant arrived and told him to put the first item in the bag before scanning the second item. So he put the soup in a bag and put the bag in his cart, then moved back to scan …

Battling the End of Summer Blues at Work

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Have you started to detect a little “end of summer blues” creeping into your workplace? If you think you’re just projecting your own wistful nostalgia over losing the more relaxed environment that summer often brings – think again. As the summer draws to a close, two themes converge in most workplaces. The first is the sadness felt by those who pack a lot of summer fun into those few months that used to epitomize freedom from the restrictions of the school year. For these employees, as the days perceptibly shorten, energy and motivation often dips just …

The HR Administrator’s Guide to Managing Vacations and Other Employee Absences

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With the Fourth of July and other summer long weekends right around the corner, businesses the world over are expecting an increasing number of employee absences, as employees stretch 2- or 3-day weekends into 4- or 5-day breaks. But since not every absence comes about in the same way, your response to each one shouldn’t be identical either. After all, one employee’s long-planned and long-prepared beach weekend has much less of an impact on your business’ operations than another employee’s surprise no-show on the day after a holiday. Here are the four types …

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