Mar 20, 2013
I’ll admit it. I fly United. I also know that everyone hates them, but I actually don’t. In fact, I’d fly United over any other carrier in the US (which does happen quite often). Ok, so sometimes extreme status helps out, but they do treat their upper tiers of status holders rather well. In the latest round of airline mergers, I was nonetheless please to hear that it was not really a merger of equals. In fact, what happened is that at the end of the day, Continental Airlines bought market share and brand, the United leadership team was generally disbanded, and the continental leadership team brought in to transform what is generally considered a high cost United model. No matter what, I have been treated well at United, but not everyone is. In fact, unless you are a 100k miles flyer and up, your experience on UAL probably sucked. For me, I knew exactly what I was getting when I got on a plane or called my excessive help line. But for the masses, the experience was poor. (1) I write this sitting in International First – no doubt in my mind that my experience is vastly different than it is downstairs.
As I extended my travels outside the US, I also had a similar experience on United. I knew I could count on upgrades, tell free exclusive help lines no matter where I was in the world. Again, for the masses, this didn’t work out to the same experience. Instead, if you really wanted a good experience, you decided to fly regional carriers. Everyone that is not a frequent business traveller seems to love Southwest, Jet Blue, and Virgin Atlantic, and if you go overseas, god forbid you get stuck in some foreign land using a large US based carrier.
Part of what I see in HR is that HR service delivery is totally variable depending on who you are and where you sit. OK, I get it that on an airplane, if I pay for a business class seat, I should get a nicer seat and better food. I get that if I’m a seriously frequent flyer, I’m going to get on the plane first. But shouldn’t everyone who calls the help desk get the exact same experience? Is it ever acceptable that someone sits on the phone for 15 minutes to wait for a real person? Back to this idea of variability, there’s a significant problem that how good your service is can depend on what country you are in. It’s not for skills, but for US based countries, the training is just often better and more attentive. If you don’t sit in the HQ country or have a large population, then your employees are relegated to second class status where service is concerned. Often, we have plenty of people from HR Service Centers and HR Coordinators and HR Business Partners in our major population centers. Countries with 20 people get a website and a phone number of someone who is not supposed to talk to them if they are not a director and up.
If I think about who our callers are, let’s face the facts here as well. If a VP calls your HR center, you are going to get her paycheck fixed within a matter of hours. Some guy from the manufacturing line? Right, manual check will be cut, Fedex’d out and you’ll have a new check in 4 days. We all know the probabilities – the VP does not really need the money, but the line guy might be living paycheck to paycheck. Our priorities are to address those with status first though.
Here are a few things you can do to fix the problems:
- Look into your service delivery infrastructure and find out if all your populations have acceptable if not equal access to services
- Do a survey in your non-major populations to see if you are effective or not
- Run a report on HR staff training to see if your non HQ populations receive the same level of attention
- Look at call volumes per country, and don’t stop there – understand the differences in volumes and don’t assume lower is better
Don’t get me wrong – I love the fact that someone pretty much always picks up the phone when I call. I love that I only have to listen to 20 seconds of the automated guy, and that they keep upgrading me. I totally get they do this so they can keep my money when I fly. But I’m also quite saddened to hear when others have very poor experiences. If the VP with the paycheck knew what the experience of the line person was, she’d most likely tell you to give everyone equal treatment.
Tweet 1: Airline miles is not a model for #HR. Services to all, not just the loudest and neediest. http://bit.ly/12SA5uL
Tweet 2: Standardizing user experience globally in #HR Service Delivery http://bit.ly/12SA5uL
Tweet 3: Your low population countries matter for HR service delivery too. http://bit.ly/12SA5uL