What HR Can Learn From Customer Service Desks

Originally published on HR Review.

As the workplace continues to grow in complexity, HR practitioners are increasingly under pressure to improve efficiency and responsiveness. Disorganised HR support processes can have dire consequences, from employees frustrated at having their queries lost or forgotten, to huge pay outs resulting from lost tribunals and inaccurate audit trails.

Larger organisations are increasingly turning to the shared service model to improve their ability to track and respond to staff needs. To take things to the next level however, HR practitioners should consider what they can learn from fast-moving fields such as retail and transport, where being able to respond swiftly and accurately to every query is absolutely essential.

The daily pressure customer service desks face has required the field to be leaders in technology and techniques in order to make them as responsive as possible, making them an ideal model for HR teams looking for an extra edge.

Improving employee relations

Although they may not have to adhere to the ‘customer is always right’ approach of consumer-facing service teams, keeping employees happy is an important part of the HR role. Having staff members chase up on requests and repeat the details over and over again because the HR team has lost track is a frustrating experience on both sides, and can quickly sour the relationship.

A service desk approach allows HR staff to run quick searches and see the whole history of a query, enabling them to provide updates on progress without the need for the employee to explain all over again.  Utilising inbuilt knowledge, HR teams can also provide added value on the calls to employees, creating consistency in responses across the organisation. The result will keep both employees and the HR team happy, helping to keep things running smoothly and reduce staff turnover.

Better visibility

HR departments are often made up of multiple teams all working independently and with little sharing of information.  A service desk approach means that all the information on queries is centralised in one system – saving time, increasing visibility and helping the team to become more productive – especially when team members are on holiday.

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Introducing self-service

Just as many businesses now handle customer queries with online forms and FAQs in the first instance, introducing a self-service approach to query handling can be very beneficial to HR teams. This will reduce the number of calls into the HR department, freeing up the team to focus on the more sensitive queries or more complex cases that come in.  Enabling employees to log in and check useful knowledge articles on things such as paternity leave, check policies, or just find out the progress of their queries, will also reduce fresh queries and save time for the HR team.

Tracking business trends

A service desk approach also enables HR teams to gather intelligence from across their operations and understand danger points, trends and patterns. For example, if the HR team are receiving lots of calls about issues with recruitment they need to understand what the issue is and where is it coming from – are there any bottlenecks that need to be addressed, and if so how can this be improved?

If the department is receiving a lot of queries on a subject, such as misuse of social media, the HR team can create an internal campaign to communicate more information on this topic thereby reducing the number of queries coming into the department on the subject.

Faster upskilling

Dynamic searching enabled by a service desk, combined with knowledge articles, enables new team members to quickly get up to speed with common queries, and even the most experienced team members can benefit from being alerted to any legislation changes. HR case management tools, with this functionality, will allow practitioners to upload up-to-date documentation or create articles that will be automatically found when typing in the name of that subject, such as maternity leave or pensions.  This will again make it easier for even new HR recruits to give a fast response, as well as letting them be confident they are giving the most up to date advice and guidance.

Service with a smile

All of these elements result in a HR department that is in complete control of the queries coming in, and ultimately, of its relationship with the staff as well. By making the HR experience as fast and pleasant as the customer service from the best high street brands, HR teams can boost morale, help to reduce staff turnover, and demonstrate their value to the organisation at the same time.

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