It's not every HR Director who is willing to invite direct, personal, no-holds-barred feedback on the service they provide. But those who do, find the process and the results achieved, both valuable and worth repeating.
We've been working recently with the senior HR Team of a large organisation, a household name, which provides an advisory and support service to managers and employees working all over the Country. A year or so ago they completely overhauled the structure of the service, moving from a locally-based approach to an online and phone based service. The number of staff involved was reduced substantially.
They asked us to generate usable feedback from their customers, in the form of measures which could be used on an ongoing basis to improve the quality and effectiveness of the service provided by HR overall as well as the various specialist support teams dealing with a panoply of HR-related issues.
Over five thousand users of the service were invited to take part in the customer survey and, surprisingly perhaps, given the recency of all the changes, almost half responded. We collected very detailed feedback about many different aspects of the service provided, as well as overall measures of customer satisfaction. large number of respondents' comments which helped explain the findings.
The data we presented to the HR SMT proved to be even more valuable than had been expected. One of the main outcomes is to be the introduction of a customer satisfaction index. In future, customers are to be segmented into three, (i.e. senior, middle and front line employees) and a selection of items from the recent survey which are core to their satisfaction with HR will become the basis of the index. These questions will be circulated electronically) to customers twice a year and the responses will be tracked, highlighting changes and improvements.
Remedial action will be targeted precisely and changes made quickly and effectively.
Other of our clients - some in other functions like IT or Finance as well as HR - have carried out similar surveys annually for several years. The process has helped them to bring about big changes (by sharing the data internally their own staff can see for themselves where improvements are needed) and their customers have been able to enjoy higher levels of service quality year on year.
All these clients share a common set of values with all the people we work with on employee engagement and other surveys - a belief in the value of feedback. The organisation that actively seeks out feedback, and responds to it, will always be more successful than those that assume they know what their clients (or employees) feel about them. Humility will always triumph over arrogance.