We can also offer value to Marketing itself. HR has always had a hard time within corporations because it is so different to the rest of business, focusing on people and relationships and the complexity which results from these. Marketing also deal with people but these people are outside the system rather than on the inside like us, so they're impacted by the complexity of our organisations rather than being part of the complexity. This is changing now however - particularly as a result of social media, the walls between customers and organisations are coming down and our Marketing colleagues are being increasingly immersed in the same sort of complexity which we have always had to deal with. This means we can offer them our experience and advice around relationship management, qualitative and subjective measurement, personalisation of services, etc, etc.
There are also some key integration points where we can work together. Probably the main opportunities are:
- The employee customer value chain - developing and aligning the attitudes and behaviours of employees to support customers. It’s a bit old but I like the analysis and conclusions in Gallup’s Human Sigma study - that companies benefit from engaging customers and engaging employees but the greatest benefits come from engaging both, in an aligned way.
- Aligning the employer brand and customer brand, particularly in a B2C customers where many employees and candidates will also be customers. There are interesting similarities and challenges in both customer and employer branding too - e.g. the use of social technology, the move from push to pull, and the idea that increasingly companies are losing control of their brands and are becoming customer, employee and candidate branded (see the United breaks guitars and many other similar case examples).
- Measuring the results of this effort. I’ve already referenced the Net Promotor Score as one popular basis for measuring customer engagement and if this is going to be used by Marketing it makes perfect sense to use a similar measure of engagement within HR (whist recognising that concerns around the crude nature of NPS for customers are even greater and more significant when it comes to employees.)
Finally, as well as offering value to Marketing, and working together on these areas of integration, we can learn from our marketing colleagues, particularly around areas such as branding, segmentation, value propositions and messaging.
And we can learn from customers. I don’t agree with Dave Ulrich’s Outside In perspective but I do agree that all HR people should find ways to go and talk to the relevant customers to help get ideas about how the workforce can be developed to provide value to them.
Don’t expect too much from this - I think most of the best ideas about supporting customers usually come from employees, particularly employees who work with customers, rather than the customers themselves, but it’s still an essential conversation to have.