How HR Can Help Build a Customer-Centric Workforce

Posted by Brandon Carter on Nov. 6, 2020

Does HR have a role in customer satisfaction?

In other words, are you somehow responsible for the engagement and retention of your company's customers or clients?

Your first instinct is probably no.

But then, you recall that there's a close correlation between employee engagement and customer engagement and…well, employees are your specialty, so…there's a connection.

Mostly, customer success is the responsibility of account managers and customer service.


We know someone who disagrees.

Over on our parent blog, Access Vice President of Customer Success Emily Hayes says there is no one department or person responsible for customer success.

It's an organizational commitment. Everyone shares a piece of that pie.

Even HR.

And benefits managers.

And recruiters.

And everyone who may never even come into contact with a customer. Everyone in the organization plays a role in customer success.

As a major influencer on organizational culture and employee engagement, HR actually has a major responsibility to make sure customers always have a place at the table.

But how?

Here's how you, beloved HR pro, can have a direct impact on the customers that serve as the lifeblood of your company.
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  • Make Customer Success Part of Onboarding

As the first point of contact with a company, HR has a unique opportunity with every new employee. While this process is good for explaining policies and employee benefits, the real goal of onboarding should be full indoctrination.

If customer success is important to your company, make it the major theme of onboarding. Explain who your customers are, introduce your VIPs, and explain key performance KPIs and other aspects of what goes into a successful customer.

Even if they're not in a role where they can directly affect one of those KPIs, showing new employees how the sausage is made will help make it clear how each element of your company pitches in on customer success.

  • Become a Marketer for Customer Success

HR is often the primary communicator for companies. Whether it's a newsletter, intraweb  site, one-off emails or even bulletin boards, use your platform to be a customer success evangelist.

Send out new wins and major retentions. Call out employees who made contributions to those victories. Share out ambitious goals and what progress has been made in their pursuit.

Involve your managers, as well, by sending them talking points to highlight in their own staff meetings as well.
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  • Push for Safe Transparency

Brands are built on being the perfect solution to all problems. But customer success is at its best when transparency is present. Be honest and present with customers - you'll stick out in a world that's quickly moving to bots.

- Emily Hayes, Access Development VP of Client Success

Transparency - openly sharing wins and losses, joys and pains, strengths and weaknesses, needs and assets - is critical to customer success culture.

Ultimately the call for transparency will come from the C-level, but HR must make it safe.

A transparent culture requires trying and failing and learning from failure. In other words, people are going to mess up. If management's urge is to terminate every employee who dares and fails, it's going to turn ugly (or extremely safe) quickly. 

(Check this article out for some ideas on how to create a culture that gives employees opportunities to lead and try new things without major risk.)

Help craft policies that have slack built into them for employees trying and failing without fear of losing their livelihoods.

  • Build Customer Success Measures Into Each Position

At some level, every job in an organization impacts customers. From product development, to marketing, to sales, to customer service; they all have a role.

customer-service-positive-interaction-Ox6SW103KtM-unsplashEven the people who keep your office clean play a role, as they provide an optimal environment for your staff to perform their duties.

It all adds up.

Define that customer connection for each role as best you can, and work with managers to place it on every scorecard and job description.

The closer you can tie each action back to a success metric, the better.

  • Celebrate Successes, and Create a Collection

We hinted at this earlier, but it's worth a bullet point all its own: when someone knocks it out of the park, let the company know.

Reward the employee. Share it out in an email, a newsletter, a bulletin board, wherever. What's important is to show how one person excelling at their role can have a ripple effect that leads all the way to a satisfied customer.

Celebration alone isn't enough. Let's take this a step further.

Keep a collection of these stories. When someone comes into a similar position, pull out these stories during onboarding and show the new hire how someone in their role has directly impacted the customer and therefore the company.

book-of-wins.jpegIt'll cast a vision of what that role can do, set expectations, and encourage the employee to aspire for greatness.

The lady you just hired to stare at lines of code and find flaws? There's a chance that one of her predecessors sniffed out a potentially fatal flaw once upon a time, saving the company and customer millions of dollars. And the new hire should know she can do the same thing.

Bonus idea: introduce your employee hero to a customer affected by their work. It'll help the employee feel the appreciation directly, and create yet another connection between your company and the customer.

Sniff Out Success

If you've got a customer success professional on staff, rely on them for help with these ideas.

If not, then become a hunter of this information.

"Oh great, another job for HR to do!"

Yeah, we know. In most companies, HR already handles a heavy load.

But this is worth it. HR has a unique influence in most organizations. You see every new employee on their way in, and every employee on their way out. You have regular contact with executives and managers. You have a big voice when it comes to benefits and employee perks. You know what brings people in and what sends them away.

As such, HR has as much say on company culture as anyone. Having a culture of customer success, underneath a layer of employee-centricity, is a surefire road to more engagement, more revenue, and more success for everyone.

Topics: Employee Engagement + Loyalty

Brandon Carter

Written by Brandon Carter

Brandon is a former writer and marketer for Access Development. He's a frequent blogger on customer and employee engagement & loyalty, consumer trends, and branding. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter at @bscarter