(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at Paycom, a leading provider of cloud-based human capital management software. For the seventh consecutive year, Paycom was named a top workplace in Oklahoma. Congrats to them! Enjoy the article.)
Last month, I wrote an article titled “5 Ways Strategic HR Can Bring Business Value”. Number four on the list was for HR to support customer-friendly policies. In the article, we talked about having company policies that help employees take care of the customer (versus creating roadblocks to better customer service).
But we can also view having customer-friendly policies as giving an employee experience that mirrors the customer experience. For example, some of you might know that Mr. Bartender and I recently moved, so we’re updating our address everywhere. Most of the time, I can update my address online. It’s easy to do, I can do it at my convenience, and I know it’s done right.
With self-service technology, employees can do the same thing. They save time by updating their own addresses. Not only does it save a trip to HR, but it saves duplicate key entry, and the possibility of the address being entered incorrectly.
Now, I don’t want to get too far off on a tangent, but I think technologies like employee self-service promote autonomy. They encourage people to take responsibility for their actions. And we know from books like Dan Pink’s “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” that autonomy is one of the three things that leads to better organizational performance. (P.S. The other two are purpose and mastery.)
Paycom’s Ask Here™ Allows Employees to Get Answers
In addition to updating my own address, another experience I’m starting to use more frequently as a consumer is the ”Contact Us” section of websites. Of course, before you directly contact the customer service department, many organizations have a section where you can find you own answer. It’s super convenient and can often save you a phone call or email.
Paycom recently introduced something similar for employees called Ask Here. It’s accessible through both desktop computers and mobile devices. The goal of Ask Here is to connect employees with the right answers, the first time. I was curious to see how Ask Here works, so I recently requested to demo the service. And I must say, it’s designed to mirror the customer service experience we’re all very accustomed to.
Ask Here works with Paycom’s Employee Self-Service® tool, which acts as a first avenue to see if the question has already been answered. As HR pros, we know there’s a good chance that another employee might have wanted to know the same thing.
If the question hasn’t been answered previously, then the employee can ask the question. They don’t need to figure out who is the best person to ask. They just ask the question. The system will provide an automated reply (so the employee knows their request is in process).
Meanwhile, the system will immediately route the question to the right person. A few common departments that receive questions are human resources, payroll, and facilities. Paycom told me during the demo that they’ve found organizations are also setting up a third point of contact for atypical or unique questions, so they are read and given appropriate attention.
When it comes to providing answers, the system can prioritize urgent requests (which is helpful). It also allows for standard replies, making the response easier (and faster) for the person replying. And the app is secure, so it’s safe for the employee or department to send or reply with confidential information. Once a response is issued, the employee can receive the response directly within the app, via a push notification on their phone, or by notification sent via email.
Giving Employees Answers Gets Results
Another thing I wanted to know about Ask Here was what it’s done for organizations in terms of results. For employees, they get answers. And they get them in a timely fashion. Let’s face it: Employees aren’t asking their questions to quiz human resources departments. They have a legitimate reason they need that information. When employees receive good information in a timely fashion, it improves the employee experience, which benefits employee retention.
There’s also a benefit to HR in terms of a decrease in foot traffic. As an HR professional, let me go on the record that no one should implement a technology solution to avoid chatting with employees. But in my experience, I’ve always wanted to meet with employees about the important stuff. Paycom’s Ask Here allows HR to spend their time with employees on the important stuff.
The final outcome benefits the entire organization: Emails decreased. No one wants more email. I ran across this Inc. article that said the average worker spends 23% of their time on emails. That’s two hours a day, almost 10 hours a week, about 40 hours a month, and approximately 480 hours a year (480 hours a year = 60 workdays). Ridiculous. Any reduction in email is a good thing. Enough said.
There’s one more thing. Ask Here allows organizations to measure the number of inquiries, types of requests and response times. Gathering and analyzing this information can only help the solution become stronger, which means that the employee experience can become stronger. For example, if the company notices they are getting a lot of certain types of requests, then maybe they want to create an FAQ to help provide immediate answers. Or if response times start to creep up, they can put a plan in place to have more people start answering questions. It might help formulate a communication strategy around common inquiries.
HR departments have the opportunity to take a cue from their marketing counterparts and create employee experiences that resemble the customer experience. And the good news is most employees are customers (somewhere), so the adoption rate should be significant, which brings immediate value to everyone involved.
If you want to learn more about how workplace communications and Ask Here can benefit the business, check out this episode of Paycom’s HR BreakRoom featuring Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran.18