What Do Clients Really Want?

The five common factors that make for a happy HRO relationship.

by Curtis S. Morgan

Clients are always asked to reveal what they want from outsourcingrelationships. Although clients different priorities tell a lot aboutspecific client relationships, what clients want out of thoserelationships tends to be consistent across the board. Here are mythoughts on five things clients want out of their outsourcingrelationship.

HR managements number-one desire is less noise from employees andformer employees. Lets face it, one complaint to the C-suite willimmediately result in a disproportionateand required response from internal and vendor resources. Any ongoingissues will be perceived as a problem whether there is an underlyingissue or just a few bad concurrent situations. Everyone in the clientorganization (and, therefore, at the responsive vendor) wants lessnoise.

But this degree of silent perfection costs–and costs more than anyclient would want to pay. The best way to reduce noise levels is toeliminate the opportunities for defects at the source. Deployingreliable technology and self-service tools that enable those closest tothe source of the transaction (typically employees or their directmanagers) to process data and transactions is the most effective way ofdoing this. Where direct access to a case manager is required, makesure employees can quickly reach the right resources who are empoweredand trained to take care of common employee needs. Service interruptionor failure to meet demand spikes can create a lot of noise veryquickly. Making sure that technology and team size are rapidly scalableand backed up for emergencies is key to avoiding isolated butdevastating service drops.

Service expectations increase every day. For instance, acceptable errorlevels in-house quickly become unacceptable noise levels in anoutsourced environment. Memories of the bad old days of in-houseadministration fade quickly–but memories of the glorious promisedland portrayed in marketing presentations and materials last forever.The achievable reality is somewhere in between these two extremes.Establishing a baseline and monitoring trends in all key areas ofservice delivery can help the vendor manager document that this realityis, in fact, being achieved. Being able to produce data showing overallservice levels and trends is a vendor managers credible way ofresponding to the occasional service
delivery issues that inevitably arise.

One consequence of consistently more efficient service delivery islower costs. Lets face it, senior management typically continues totreat HR administration as a cost item rather than a profit center. Theonly opportunity for bottom-line contribution is through costreduction. As transition and implementation costs fade into memory,clients expect to see and share in the benefits of continued efficiencygains. Lowering costs or adding services without cost increases makesclient HR administrators look better to their senior managements. Italso strengthens the client/vendor relationship.

Time is money. The extra (a.k.a. unnecessary) time employees andmanagers sometimes spend on processing transactions can add up to asignificant hidden expense. Anticipating employee responses totechnology deployed and reducing the time spent on common transactionscan help manage these hidden costs in the short run, and changeperceptions of a broader audience of customers and clients in the longrun. Deploying technology that helps managers do their jobs and enablesemployees to process transactions and get back to work more quickly canhelp create a broader cultural appreciation of the work being done bythe clients HR team and by the vendor.

All of the above factors help our client partners succeed in doingtheir jobs. But the number-one thing that our clients want is theability to trust that their outsourcing partner is consistently workingto make the client successful. At that level of trust, theclient/vendor collaboration works best–approval for vendorrecommendations is fast, and the minor adjustments that can make theemployee experience better occur quickly in the normal course ofbusiness.

How would you order these factors in your outsourcing relationships?Have you asked yourself what you want? If not, you should–it will makethe entire process easier.

Tags: Consultants & Advisors, HRO Today Global, Professional Contribution

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