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Is Customer Service relevant to HR ?
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Chrm Message From: Raman Bharadwaj Total Posts: 39 Join Date: 06/06/2006
Rank: Executive Post Date: 03/08/2006 05:15:58 Points: 240 Location: India

Is Customer Service relevant to HR ?


I wonder if HR people looked at their being in the business of “Image selling” If they do then they will all have great customer service stories to narrate. The way the recruiters break into the privacy of the prospects, the way they open their conversations, the way they sell the image of the company et al … I’ve known some successful insurance agents and managers of the Life Insurance Corporation of India who refused to be stopped by any self-imposed limitations or the dreaded “Realistic Goals.”

I was listening to an incident that happened in one of the corporate hospitals and the poor customer service they experienced in the hospital, and the patient died even before a doctor examined. so I thought I would share this which are five fundamental rules which are followed ..

1. If we don't look after the customer, someone else will
2: Nothing is gained by winning an argument and losing a customer
3: Always deliver what we promise - if in doubt under promise and over deliver
4: Always treat our customers they way we would like to be treated
5: The reputation of the whole company is in the hands of the individual

This is I believe applicable to HR as well. The one’s who are seeking employment and the ones who work along with us are all our customers.

We encouraged our associates to make their complaints known, since customers with a complaint who don’t voice it are far more likely to leave you than those who do. We got some dissatisfied customers among us, writing to us. Customer complaints are also an opportunity to show your customer as tp what you can really do and that you stand behind your products and services; something that will really separate you from the competition.
However, a recent experience has helped me realize that while it is still necessary to encourage customers and clients to voice their complaints, this can skew your decisions towards a vocal minority while ignoring the majority of people who are more than satisfied with what you’re doing.

While it’s a well known fact that “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” there’s also the danger of a letting a small but vocal minority affect policy change in our company simply because they’re the only ones speaking up.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I still believe in encouraging customers and clients to complain; it’s the best opportunity you have of turning a dissatisfied client into a customer-for-life. But when you allow the complainers to affect policies and procedures that the vast majority of your clients are happy with, you’re going to open a whole new can of worms.

We promoted an “Appreciation Week” and this was a mail I crafted and dispatched to everyone with us..  Like an Echo What Goes Around Comes Around

I've spent a lifetime committed to helping others. It began from the time I started working, and it is almost three decades now. It's what gives me the greatest joy, fulfillment and satisfaction in life. I'm also a true believer in the old adage - "What goes around comes around."

This is reinforced on many occasions when I encounter an old colleague, friend or acquaintance who reminds me of how I inspired them, gave them guidance or helped them through a difficult time. These kinds of experiences always motivate me to keep putting good things out into the world.

We never know in advance what good may come from the gestures we put out there. Maybe it will inspire, encourage, educate, motivate or actually change someone's life. In any event, people will always come away knowing that they matter to you.

In professional life, as in personal life, it all comes down to people. At work, people are your customers, ex-colleagues, peers, associates, leaders, managers, investors and vendors. Success in your professional life depends on the people you encounter. How you treat those people will have a significant impact on your bottom line. And in personal life the relationship with your spouse, kith and kin, siblings etc., all affect your life and there is an impact of this on your professional life as well.

For now I restrict myself to the work as most of us spend the most part of our day at work - it includes getting ready, comings and working, then returning back as well. Here are some ways to help people in your professional circle and show them that they matter:

1. Deliver incredible customer service.
2. Reach out for a colleague who is in distress
3. Pay someone more than you need to.
4. Send a hand-written note to an associate acknowledging a job well done.
5. Loan a subordinate a book that you've found to be helpful.
6. Tell someone struggling "I want to help you succeed," and mean it.
7. Stop by and talk, without an agenda.
8. Share a resource that you've found useful.
9. Create a safe space for openness and honesty.
10. Let people tell you how they feel, and listen without interrupting.

I encourage you to think about the people that you impact, the lives that you touch and the positive changes that you can make. These are the true signs of leadership and in my opinion are more important than the money that you make, the position that you hold or the size of your office.

You can do good while you're doing well. It may require you to think of new ways to do it, but when you focus on helping others, you'll succeed in ways beyond measure. People will remember you long after you cease to be, and they will remember you for more than one thing. Don't you want to enjoy this good feeling. Then what are you waiting for make a beginning this day, why wait any longer, make a beginning this moment.

Just for a start, let us observe this coming week as an "OPEN APPRECIATION WEEK." I'm sure there are many things that we can share, about the people we have come to appreciate, the work they do that we come to appreciate, the initiative that they take that deserves appreciation, the help that they render that deserves appreciation. Let us share this with all of those we are associated with in your workplace. Let me tell you I've got many things to share about many people I'm associated with here. To begin with I might just sum up the whole thigs by saying, "I appreciate everyone here for keeping the work environment so clean and "free of politics," that seems to be the nagging issue that most companies are dogged with. This one line sums up the quality of the people we are all connected with here - PURER THAN 24 CARAT GOLD and TOP CLASS. I thank the Almighty for his generosity - he has always connected me with the right people at the right time for the right purpose, all of which I really enjoy.

A ROSE TO MY HAND FROM YOU WHEN I AM ALIVE IS WORTH MUCH MORE AND MANY A MILLION TONS OF BOUQUETS ON MY GRAVE - Author Unknown

Punch Line for the Day : "Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Except for two there were none, and now what does this indicate.. ?

We live in an instant gratification society. We’ve been conditioned, by various forces outside in society and particularly by modern technologies – like the mobiles, computers, internet, television, to believe that the most difficult problems in life can be solved in one hour; minus about 20 minutes of commercial interruptions.

Our attention spans have also become frighteningly short. TV commercials that used to run for a full minute, now last 15 seconds; and besides, who watches them anyhow? We’re too busy channel surfing to actually concentrate on one thing. The upshot is that most people won’t work through a problem, or even do what it takes to get what they want. If something is the least bit difficult to do or implement, the average person just doesn’t bother or takes the easy way out. In fact, most people would rather put forth minimum effort and be mediocre, rather than have to work hard for a long period of time in order to be successful.

I invite the thoughts and view of the professionals out there.. 

Chrm Message From: CHRM Total Posts: 209 Join Date: 06/06/2006  
Rank: Coach Post Date: 03/08/2006 06:51:01 Points: 1045 Location: India

Dear Raman & Colleagues,

We need to provide a roadmap to getting our staff to 'deliver on the brand promise' of an exceptional contribution at the work place and an un-expected customer service levels towards our co-workers and towards our clients. The argument for branded customer service is well considered by the new economy adage and is considered a significance factor for all departmental functions. But the point is we often stray away from this, thinking that we belong to a function where customer service is not our duty but the only duty of the customer relations people. In this case, the company itself has not provided or shown us the bottom line of delivering on customer expectations. There is no roadmap for deliverance of customer related services whether its relevant to HR, Operations or be it any area. It's only when you see from the side of the customer that you initiate the understanding of the service process.

Companies who have begun to realise the need of close functioning of HR people with the customer base is also a rising phenomenon in the west these days. The designations/positions have already started to shift base from 'HR Assistant' to 'HR Customer Service Assistant' since we after all deal with providing human services so we are no less than customer services people. Though the idea is hard to digest in the Asian context where the economy is on a splurge to setup specialised customer care divisions, but there shall soon come a time when HR shall have to deal with customer related issues. For instance, we can recollect our customer services deals like in parlance ; offering appointment letters to the candidates, maintaining employee relations, offering salaries where in each instance we are servicing our coworkers, our associations, our clients. Its only from the combined service to the customers is when the individual departments can survive and grow.

Again, focus on the nature and scope of too much servicing of customers may lead to the 'squeaky wheel getting grease' or affecting the change in our policies or out-of-the-way debacle of the operational stuff. So, the conclusion can be that "Customer Service is very much relevant to Human Resources but it should be minded that within this process the HR's dont end up with becoming core customer service specialists themselves and forget themselves to have been in HR"

Thanks Raman for raising a delicate issue which surely has a deep meaning for the HR in the coming years.

Anticipating more members to join in..

Regards,

CHRM

"To win...you must stay in the game" - Claude Bristol

Chrm Message From: Raman Bharadwaj Total Posts: 39 Join Date: 06/06/2006  
Rank: Executive Post Date: 03/08/2006 13:58:35 Points: 240 Location: India

No successful business can survive without a steady customer base. 80 percent of their business coming from 20 percent of their customers. Competition drives many businesses to neglect this loyal customer base and chase new customers instead. If at all they do offer any service, at best it is lip service nothing more. I say this with authenticity, as I drive a Maruti esteem and there is a call that comes to me from a local dealer through whom this car was purchased. The caller asks me if there is any complaint or how is the car performing. And when I do have a problem and when I tell them they will tell me please come to our workshop Sir, someone will attend to the problem. It may just be a minor problem which I assess will not have a major impact, like for instance how does it matter, if the light inside the car, doesn’t get switched on when I open the door. This is kept pending till the car is taken for service, and this complaint is told to them again. I’d have expected that they enter in the computer the problem I’ve stated, and when my car goes to the workshop/garage for servicing, the job card is opened and this complaint already figures in that. Later in the evening when the car gets delivered back to me after the servicing is over, I find thee is still a lot of dust inside the car on the dash board panel, which I insist be cleaned before I drive out. What I’d expect is a clean serviced car delivered to me and not one when there is no finishing touch or finesse.

Since it costs significantly more money to attract new customers than to maintain relationships with existing ones, your efforts toward building customer loyalty will certainly payoff.

Taking the same lessons back home into a software company, it become very vital for us to ensure that our internal customers are happy so there is a lot of backend operation and suggestions invited to keep things in a good shape and to keep people happy.   

Here are ten ways in which you can build internal customer loyalty:

1. Communicate: Whether it is an email newsletter, intranet, telephone, letters etc.

2. Customer Service: Go the extra distance and delight the internal customer. Train the staff to do the same. Internal Customers remember being treated well. Our accounts and administration department have been oriented to this concept very well, and so we have hardly any problem with regards to make our payouts to our internal/external customers. The IT returns are computed, compiled checked and submitted to the IT department for everyone, and the acknowledgement is duly handed over to every associate before the last date of filing the returns. For anything that is due to be paid is done after the Accounts Department commits a date and the money is then deposited into their respective bank with the deposit receipt. The Administration department arranges to pay electricity bills, phone bills, house taxes, water taxes etc on behalf of all the associates, as all  that the associate needs to do is to handover the bill along with the cheque or cash or DD etc.    

3. Employee Loyalty: Loyalty works from the top down. If you show your employees loyalty, they will feel good about their jobs and pass that loyalty along to the other internal customers. We employ about a 100 professionals of which at least 50% of them have been with us for more than 5 years, mind you we are a software product and solutions company, and for most it is their first job. We have four people of which two have been with us for 20 years and the other two have been here for 15 years, and this is still their first job. Young people who are inducted get a session from these people as to what they saw in this company and what has kept them here so long.  

4. Employee Training: Train employees in the manner you want them to interact with customers – both internal and external. Empower associates to make decisions that benefit the customer internal and external.

5. Offer Incentives: Give both the internal and external customers a reason to return to your business. For instance, children outgrow shoes quickly, so a children’s shoe store owner might hand out a card that makes the tenth pair of shoes half price. Likewise, a dentist may give a free cleaning to anyone who has seen him regularly for five years.

6. Industry/Company/Product/Solutions/Services Awareness: Know what your regular customers purchase and keep those software updgraded by adding new features and make new product releases. Add other products and/or services that go with the products your regular customers buy.

7. Reliability: If you say it will be there on Wednesday, deliver it on Wednesday. Be reliable. If something goes wrong, let the internal and external customers know immediately and compensate them for their inconvenience.

8. Be Flexible: Try to solve internal and external customer problems or complaints. The phrase, “well that’s our policy” will lose more customers then setting the store on fire.

9. People over Technology: The harder it is for a internal and external customer to speak to a human being when he or she has a problem, the less likely it is that you will see that customer again.

10. Know Their Names: Get to know the names of the internal and external customers or at least recognize their faces.

 

Chrm Message From: sheetal Total Posts: 3 Join Date: 06/06/2006  
Rank: Beginner Post Date: 04/08/2006 01:36:51 Points: 15 Location: India

Dear Raman, Chrm & Members,

The emphasis in business these days has swung towards strategies that can create long term customer loyalty as their focus. The recognition that customer retention is the key to long term profitability has brought with it an understanding of the crucial importance of customer service. As markets increasingly take on the characteristics of commodity markets, where customers see little difference between the technical features and the functionality of the products, it is only through customer service that the organisation differentiates itself and wherein the the other departments like operations, hr etc will have a key role to play.

Warm Regards,

Sheetal