Posted by: Professionals In Human Resources Association (PIHRA) | August 24, 2010

Exceptional Service Delivery: Lessons Learned from HR Outsourcers

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Delivering exceptional customer service is a complex undertaking. Customer needs vary and can significantly change over time, seemingly requiring a custom approach for each individual. It’s no different in the HR/payroll outsourcing industry. In the quest to deliver great service in a business environment, three trends prevail:

Trend 1: Automate to Drive Productivity.
One common approach is founded on the idea that by using technology and automating as many processes as possible, the client can perform the majority of functions without any vendor assistance. The challenge with this “self-service/no-service” approach is that it typically only works for the simplest of HR/payroll or other business needs. When additional levels of complexity are introduced, response times can be long and service teams may lack the in-depth knowledge necessary to properly resolve client issues.

Trend 2: Centralize for Economies of Scale.
Many companies have played with the decentralized versus centralized approach to service. With decentralized service models, service teams may be more in tune with client needs; however, issues of lessened bandwidth and inadequate expertise can arise. Companies that choose to manage HR/payroll responsibilities internally, find that it is extremely difficult to employ the number of staff or expertise needed. Companies who employ centralized services must be very careful to preserve a personalized experience and accountability to the client as a means to avoid client dissatisfaction.

Trend 3: Outsource It All.
Some companies are choosing to outsource all HR/payroll activities and rely on a vendor to manage everything for them. By transferring the entire function, the responsibility is placed squarely on the partner. However, as total outsourcing solutions have matured, the industry has seen commoditization. Outsourcers are trying to find a balance between developing and delivering a unique culture and process, affordably delivering services, and ensuring clients and their employees have positive experiences.

The Secret  to Great Service?
There are four elements, even “secrets”… that enable companies to provide great service – no matter their size, location, or business philosophy. But, as with all great mysteries, the secret to great service is… that there is no secret. All components must work together to make the difference. Delivering great service, regardless of the industry you are in, must include four core elements:

Sound Application Technology.
The first ingredient for great service is a solid application foundation. Solutions must be truly integrated and designed in a way that can be easily customized to create a personalized, easy user experience that mirrors client workflows. By getting the core product right the first time, companies can immediately improve the client experience and minimize the potential pain.

Integrated Service Approach.
Companies must invest and commit to service technology that allows total visibility into a client’s information. They must also make sure that their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system works collaboratively with their applications. A single CRM system tied to the HR/payroll applications provides insight into all key touch points, including service history, activity statuses, reports and more.

Streamlined Business Processes.
Another key to delivering exceptional service is building your business processes thoroughly. Companies must identify the critical touch points across processes and build a plan for integration. For optimal efficiency, companies should try to map workflows within their systems to the way their clients manage their processes.

It’s Culture Critical!

A company’s culture must start and end with service. Processes and systems across every function must include a way to understand and measure the client experience. Companies must then use their data to make improvements. From the C-level suite, to the front-line teams, all employees must be empowered to make the decisions needed to ensure a positive experience.

Delivering great service, though complex, is the key to building a viable business. To be truly customer-focused, the employee culture, processes and technology must start with the customer – service can’t be an afterthought. Understanding the trends and key components allows you to enable your company to deliver great service, and to truly understand how to provide external and internal clients with the best resources. Implementing and mastering the four elements within your service approach is crucial to producing results and going above and beyond your clients expectations.

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