4 ways your HR department impacts the customer experience

Reading about how to improve the customer experience is a great deal like reading about CRM. Most of the discussion seems to be focused on this technology, when the reality is that's only about 20 per cent of the total strategy.

Relationships need to be built with other departments so that they will do their part in helping your business implement a successful customer experience strategy. Your Human Resources department plays a significant role in every one of them. Other departments such as Legal and Finance also have an influence. Here are four areas where your HR department, as well as other auxillary but no less important business units, can play a role in the customer experience.

Attitude

The attitude your customer-facing staff demonstrates is vitally important. At the strategic level, your organisational culture is going to be a huge factor in the attitude your employees display. Are you truly customer-focused or moving in that direction, or are you just paying it lip service?

Attitude is also driven by employee engagement with the business and its goals, along with the individual's personality and level of professionalism - which can be determined at the outset by the HR department. HR needs to be on board with your customer experience strategy. When hiring, are they screening for the right competencies?

Knowledge

Your customer-facing staff should also have expertise in product and industry knowledge. Again your HR department comes into play here, as they must devise relevant training programs that bring new employees up to speed and keep more experienced employees up to date on industry changes.

An effectively managed customer relationship management (CRM) strategy should be able to help you with your prospect and customer knowledge. Thus, the department responsible for CRM software and strategy also needs to be involved.

Skills

Your HR department's trainers should be providing state-of-the-art relevant sales and product training. What is harder to train for is the ability of the individual to be an effective listener and the ability to be put the customers' needs before his or her own. Listening is a mission-critical skill. This is directly impacted by the degree to which your organisation is customer-focused.

Support

Just like it isn't obvious that an operating system like Linux or Windows is operating behind the scenes, your employees need support from other departments that aren't always obvious to the customer. This includes departments such as finance (for car dealers) customer support (for copy machine sellers) and legal (ensuring that polices do not conflict with the customer experience). Your organisational culture surfaces here as well since the more you empower your employees to create truly innovative customer experiences, the more likely you are to achieve true customer focus.

If your customer experience strategy is just seen by others as the responsibility of one department, you could be in for a tough implementation. Gaining support and buy-in from other departments is critical to running a successful business.

By Glenn Ross of All Business.com

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