How to take a customer-centric approach to HR channel shift

How to take a customer-centric approach to HR channel shift
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HR channel shift means shifting HR tasks online - thus empowering staff to self-serve, as opposed to relying on HR staff. Through this type of technological investment, there is much to be gained in the ways of money, time and productivity.

But let's put technology aside for one moment - as it is the employees themselves who are shaping the future of HR. 10 years ago millennials were barely old enough to enter the workforce. Now they have taken over the baby boomers and the Gen Xers to make up the majority. This presents a huge challenge for HR strategy, but the smart application of technology creates exciting opportunities to meet these challenges head on. Taking a customer and user centric approach, valuing the needs of the employee in the same way you would the customer, is a sure fire way to ensure any technology investment is made with the employee in mind. 

There is a lot HR can learn from the customer-centric techniques that are frequently used by leading organisations. Mapping the ‘customer journey’ from an ‘outside in’ perspective, for example, is a proven way of getting a detailed understanding of what your customers are experiencing. There are plenty of resources available online to help with running a customer journey mapping exercise - (here is one of my favourites). The output from running such a session often proves to be highly valuable and insightful.

Key areas for development are often exposed, providing an ongoing improvement plan. Running through this process and developing new ideas for improving the customer journey should be done so with an awareness of technology.

Are there opportunities to personalise the experience for users?

What opportunities are there for automation?

Would live chat improve efficiency?

Have a holistic approach to legacy systems

Most HR departments are likely to have legacy systems in place, as well as other business tools that are well established across the organisation. For the majority, the challenge of achieving a successful HR channel shift is both a financial one and one that faces the reality of established internal technology.

While you’re likely to need to introduce some new technology to support a channel shift initiative, suggesting that all of your legacy systems are ripped out and replaced is unlikely to result in progress at a useful pace.

It’s better to be realistic about your existing digital landscape and take an orchestrated approach; work out how new tech can plug gaps. Of course, if there is cross-department acknowledgement that your legacy systems are not fit for purpose, then replacing those systems may well be the right course to take.

Value the User Experience

You’re going to be encouraging your staff to change their behaviour and be more self-sufficient, so the experience of doing that needs to be a good one.

The front-end web service will typically be supported by an underlying database, or CRM, containing staff record details. Your staff data can then be used to support the information provided through the front-end and details of any requests or interactions can be sent back and recorded. Integration between the web front-end and your staff database is obviously essential to ensure that your efficiency savings are realised.

The channel shift box can be ticked by putting your services online, but successful channel shift; creating an experience that is preferable and more efficient for the user; can become a great deal more sophisticated.

Invest in search if you want your employees to find information quicker

The role of search technology within an HR solution is to enable the user to find what they need fast. If you lift the covers on search technology, you’ll find a wealth of techniques used to support the user experience; best bets, synonyms, contextual navigation (to name but a few). Dedicated search tools provide the opportunity to bring these techniques into your solution. It also enables you to evolve your solution over time, test and improve.

Technology - keeping the human in HR

Channel shift is not about replacing your employees with online services - it’s about shifting the time consuming tasks online, thus allowing your HR staff to do the more human elements of their roles.

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