Welcome to the HR Store. How May We Help You?

By Nilesh Bhagat, CHRP

Human Resources has been ahead of the curve but I don’t think anyone outside of its practice really knows.

As part of an HR team, I’ve noticed a saying that seems to recur: “your people are your customers.” Initially, I found this strange. Aren’t customers the people outside the organization that show an interest in the products and services the organization has to offer? Further, wouldn’t it be the responsibility of Sales and Service to ensure these people are given the very best experience? Wikipedia even defines customers as “the recipient of a good, service, product, or idea, obtained from a seller, vendor, or supplier for a monetary or other valuable consideration” – and mentions nothing of colleagues as being the type.

The traditional concept of business would agree that customers are people on the outside that are to be served by people on the inside. By this logic, people on the inside cannot possibly be customers to people on the inside. That would be ridiculous.

But is it? If you consider the pressures of the Connected Age on business systems, structures and culture, perhaps the idea that the organization’s people are the organization’s customer isn’t so far-fetched. Take open innovation as an emergent force of the Connected Age, for example. Soliciting feedback and ideas for products and services from outside the walls of R&D is something that is becoming commonplace for organizations aiming to stay ahead of their competition. It has resulted in company boundaries becoming porous. No longer is the development of the ‘next big thing’ under wraps behind the walls of the organization; people outside the walls are contributors to product and service offerings. More proof? A recent McKinsey survey found that the top change on the horizon that may improve innovation was the blurring of boundaries between employees, vendors and customers.

What does this mean? Not only are the roles of customers shaken up (they’re product contributors, as well as product consumers), but so too are the roles of internal stakeholders. As a result, those within the organization’s walls can be (and are) treated as the traditional customer was: as consumers of the business’ service offerings.

In this case, that service which is consumed includes all of which HR has to offer. Have a question about your pay or bonus? Call up your local Compensation and Rewards Store for assistance. Wondering how to access the learning opportunities available within your organization’s training and development marketplace? Strike up an instant message conversation with the HR Store’s Learning Specialist. While there may be no money being exchanged between yourself and your colleagues during your transactions, there is another type of currency being exchanged which any successful organization relies heavily upon: trust. On the other side of these transactions, HR professionals continue to do what they’ve been doing well for as long as one can remember: they’re connecting with and understanding the needs of their organization’s counterparts to ensure each person has the tools to help make the business grow. Sound familiar? You’ve probably had the same experience shopping for products and services at The Hockey Shop, Best Buy and Vancity – all companies which have perfected ‘Customer Experience’ (shameless plugs – but genuinely true, nonetheless).

The next time you are speaking with a colleague about an HR issue, remember it as a transaction. The experience you create during that transaction will determine if she will come back for more of your HR Store’s service – the success of your shared place of work depends on it.

Nilesh Bhagat, CHRP, is a rewards coordinator with Best Buy Canada. Nilesh graduated from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, First Class Honours. He majored in Human Resources Management and tacked on an extended minor in Psychology. He’s a self-confessed nerd (the first step is admitting), likes to read, loves hockey and is struggling with the complexities of learning the game of golf.

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