Posted tagged ‘HRO customer satisfaction’

Customer Satisfaction in HRO – When are High Scores too High?

April 6, 2010

Congratulations to all the firms named as HRO Today’s 2010 Baker’s Dozen Multi-Process HRO providers. The rankings were driven by customer survey responses on the scale, scope, quality and satisfaction with the services provided.  The top five in the overall ranking are also the top five in customer ratings for quality of services: ADP, Ceridian, IBM, Accenture and Convergys.

I am currently wrapping up some research for one of our NelsonHall buy-side clients on the corporate relocation market. Naturally, I am asking each vendor about how they measure customer satisfaction and their current rating levels.

I came away with two thoughts.

First, all the vendors were conducting serious customer satisfaction (CSat) programs they were proud to discuss, and each program was tied to compensation and/or reward and recognition problems. The most common method used was an end-of-process survey of relocation transferees using a five point scale. Each vendor tracked both the overall average scores as well as “top box” scores. Top box ratings are important because those respondents reporting the highest levels of satisfaction are more likely to be the kind of customers that will continue to use and recommend the provider’s services to others. 

My second thought was that the reported rating scores were very high across every vendor. Having managed CSat survey programs in the past, I am a bit skeptical of unusually high scores, especially at the top box level. Of course CSat can truly be high, but it can also be a sign of a softball survey with questions carefully constructed to avoid any areas of difficulty. 

I once worked in a group with an employee survey question that was answered very negatively in each survey cycle. The management answer was not to figure out the drivers of the negative response; rather, it simply dropped the question. Ignoring a difficult issue does not make it go away,

It’s extremely important to ensure that same approach is not used in a more subtle manner in the surveys you rely upon. Look for confirmation that the CSat survey scores are matched by desirable real world actions. For example, are there correlations with sales, retention rates, referrals or complaints?

Also, be sure those who will be impacted by the survey results are not guilting customers into providing good scores. When I get my car serviced, the service people ask if I am satisfied and let me know I may get a survey, then they subtly – or not – add that their compensation and ultimately their job depends upon my satisfaction. Then I get a call from someone at the car dealership going over it all again. Gee, do I want to risk that my minor issue could cost someone his or her job? Perhaps close down a whole dealership? This approach reduces the chances of hearing easily addressable, legitimate feedback, and may even chase away customers who do not want to feel guilty over an oil change.

Finally, separate key client stakeholder satisfaction from service delivery performance measurements. Even services that are truly satisfying to the end-user may not continue to win renewal and referrals if pricing, technology capabilities, governance and other critical client relationship areas are deficient.

Truly great customer satisfactions scores are worth their weight in gold…just be sure it isn’t fools gold.

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

Customer Satisfaction is People Interaction – Back to Basics Part II

September 22, 2009

Last week I asked what creates and sustains client satisfaction. Simply put, person-to-person interactions are the source of long-term client satisfaction.

HRO providers manage client satisfaction across two major groups. The first is the client’s employees and other end users who want live customer interactions handled by knowledgeable, caring agents enabled to solve as many problems as possible on first contact. These expectations are defined and translated into statements of work and service levels in the outsourcing contract. There many effective tools to measure and monitor service center and agent satisfaction with a high degree of correlation to key performance metrics, such as first contact resolution and agent tone and manner.

The second major group includes key client stakeholders, the key HR and business leaders and the governance team that approves and influences funding and sourcing decisions including scope, addition of new services, vendor consolidation and contract renewal or re-sourcing.

Client stakeholder expectations and satisfaction drivers are often not clear, may change and may be in conflict with one another and with the terms of the contract. For key client stakeholders the governance structure should provide listening channels to understand client needs and expectations on an on-going basis. The critical term here is listening. Responding to client complaints with a rote response such as, “we are meeting our service levels,” or “that isn’t in the statement of work,” is not listening. The response may be technically correct, but it will damage the relationship.

When I was the AT&T contract manager for a major multi-process HR outsourcing relationship, we measured stakeholder satisfaction separately from employee user satisfaction. In addition to the joint counsels and teams that worked together throughout the year, our provider’s (Aon Human Capital Services) executives and a member of our governance team met with key HR, finance and other business leaders to conduct a customer satisfaction interview that focused on the state of the relationship and the business impact of the services.

When old resolved issues resurfaced, we jointly reviewed the agreements and resolutions that had been put in place by both parties. This was a critical opportunity to address the varying and conflicting expectations across internal stakeholders. There was no playing one side against the other. Once resolution of an issue was reached we owned it together. Any new issues that arose during the interviews were researched, resolved and reported back to the executives in a timely manner.

Many providers have client conferences during which the focus is on what the company has to say and customer testimonials are given. These can be good relationship management opportunities, and great fun to attend. But I strongly recommend taking it a step beyond. Invite senior client representatives from different companies to meet, talk to one another, air issues, discuss expectations and identify opportunities together.

Ceridian uses customer advisory boards (CABs) designed to provide the company with invaluable feedback on all aspects of its services and support. The CABs meet in person at least twice per year, and by phone at least three to five times per year.

ACS supports client user groups in each of its lines of business, including HRO. Kenexa has Client Advisory Councils for each HR solution area, and it values the face-to-face feedback.

And Mary Sue Rogers, IBM’s Global HR and Learning Business Transformation Outsourcing leader, hosts client advisory meetings to share service updates and business news, and to gather client input into planned service improvement priorities and investments. Incorporating input from the advisory group, new IBM HR managed service enhancements are now being trialed by user group volunteers.

The key to customer satisfaction? Listening counts, and actions count even more.

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall