Customer service is critical to HR and too often we don’t think of it until we get a complaint. 99.9999% of roles in HR require customer service. By customer service I mean: a pleasant attitude, timely follow up and the ability to solve problems.
Many HR practitioners spend over ½ of their day explaining benefits plans, employee policies and following up on various employee problems. Those activities are customer facing and why we should emphasize hiring and promoting HR professionals with the best customer service skills.
My First Job Out of College
My first job out of college working in customer service, was excellent preparation for the HR jobs I would later take on. At the time I hated the job, I was chained to my desk from 8 to 5 resolving “escalated customer service issues.” It was inevitable someone would always call at 10 minutes to 5 on Friday and they are NOT in a good mood if they are calling you.
What did I learn from that job?
- Dealing with difficult people
- How to resolve problems within boundaries
- Understanding that you can’t please everyone
Working in HR, I Dealt with Similar Situations
The employee desperately trying to work out a problem with your health insurance on Christmas Eve? Check.
The employee who is angry about your company’s “stupid” policy? Check.
Employee/Manager wandering into your office with a “quick question” at 5 on Friday? Check.
Nothing can ruin the integrity and reputation of an HR department as easily as treating our employee’s poorly.
We spend a lot of time in HR focusing on subject matter knowledge: compliance, policies and procedures but not enough on customer service. In our rush to find the best experts for our HR teams let’s not forget the human side. HR professionals with good customer service skills are the change we need in many organizations.
Please note, this is a revision of a post originally published on HRreMix on October 10, 2011
You Win With People