Human Resources-The Forgotten Frontier of CX

Toxic EmployeeMost Customer Experience Management practitioners understand that the CX is a holistic discipline, but tend to focus disproportionally on a customer service delivery. It is understandable as CS is so often the last line of defense – working hard to salvage relationship with the customers wronged by other departments of their company.


I wrote in the past about CX being everybody’s business and went beyond the “slogan” to illustrate the real example of back office departments de-railing the best product, marketing or customer service efforts.  In my opinion there is no single function in a company of any size that does not impact the experience the company delivers to its customers:

  • Poor billing practices often repeal customers and motivate them to go to the competitors for better experience;
  • Sloppy shipping processes make customers hesitant to make a repeat purchase;
  • Inadequate janitorial practices incite customers to leave a store or a showroom before they made a selection.


The list is only limited to a number of functional groups in a company. Surely the impact of various departments on CX is not equal. That is why so much attention is given to the front office organizations. However, one back office group that is pivotal to every company’s capability to deliver competitive customer experience, manage to escape the scrutiny it deserves. That group is the Human Resources Management department. Failure to recruit, manage and empower the “right” employees takes the wind out a company’s sails on its course to deliver superior customer experience. Failure to let go of the “wrong” employees sets a chain of internal decay that eventually destroys a spirit of an entire group.


I was a T-Mobile customer for 7 years. Last week I decided that the company does not deserve my patronage any longer. All these years I was reasonably satisfied with the coverage, devices, billing and tech support. Not every experience I had was so outstanding, but overall I perceived it to be the best I could hope for, even though they had make some missteps over these years. In fact only a few weeks ago I was cheering the Twitter challenge of @JohnLeger promising to beat Sprint by a number of subscribers.


Without boring you with the details, I was sent by customer support to visit the company retail outlet (El Cerrito, CA) where I was insulted by a clerk (Noel) who was probably in a middle school at the time I became a T-Mobile customer. There were no arguments, I was not upset or had a reason to be rude or abusive to him. His appearance, demeanor and absolute lack of empathy with a customer were summarily insulting. The question is how T-Mobile HR can allow such a person to represent their company?


For the last few years Sprint was very successful in signing up a large number of new customers every quarter, only to see most of them go elsewhere as soon as their contracts were over. T-Mobile pioneered a very successful no-contract policy in their marketing. The customer support was consistently better than their competition. However T-Mobile’s Human Resources may sink their entire growth ambition, if my personal experience is indicative of the quality of retail personnel they hire. Interestingly enough a cursory analysis of employees online comments (6,367) about their experience of working for T-Mobile reveals that 38% hold negative perception of the experience the company delivers to it’s customers


After one bad call where I had to remove about $45 worth of services, my coach threatened me with my job. And that’s when I quit. This job is not worth the stress and is just a waste of time. Don’t bother. Advice to Management You are promoted a bad customer experience. Stop with the pushy selling.”


While 49% of the employees praised pay structure and benefits, the majority of these opinions belong to sales associates and coaches.  Perhaps the most troubling is the extremely low opinion (-44%) of the company management expressed by 57% of the employees.


“With all of the changes in the wireless industry, this company is overrun by politics. Human resources provides little help with any issues at the regional level (personal and coworker experiences). Little promotion from within. Advice to Management The employees who know how the company and stores run deserve a chance at promotion over those outside of the company. Promotion from within is cheaper and isn’t the number one goal of a business to maximize profit? District managers should be more professional and shouldn’t show up at stores wearing t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers. Commission scale is great but there’s always corrections and employees feel like they’re being robbed each month. “


I could think of a number of ways to measure the performance of HR and it’s impact on company’s overall customer experience, but I have yet to see any company that links them together.


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