How to Become a World Class Payroll Service Provider (Part 1)

By Josh Davis

The Independent Payroll Provider Association (IPPA) recently hosted its 2014 Annual Conference, which had a phenomenal content lineup this year.  From an industry, value, service, and general perspective, the content was some of the best I’ve ever seen at the event.  One topic, in particular stuck out – service.

After seeing The DiJulius Group was presenting a session on service, I thought to myself, “What can a consulting firm teach service-oriented companies about providing customer service?” So, I asked Dave Murray who was scheduled to deliver a session entitled “Secret Service” to sit down and discuss it with me.  The conversation, and his session in general, revolved around how to become a world class service provider, that just so happens to provide payroll.  World class service organizations, as The DiJulius Group calls them, typically have the highest prices in the industry, have the most demand from new customers, and are least sensitive to economic conditions. It became abundantly clear that there’s a lot that can be learned by the typical service bureau… For a recording of the full conversation, click here.

There are six core areas of service that rose to the top for me out of these interactions that, if focused on, can help you become a world class service provider – defining your company’s service mission, creating a culture of service, providing on-going and endless training, building long-lasting relationships, unveiling the secrets of service, and measuring results. Let’s highlight on some tactics you can accomplish around each of these strategic areas.

Defining a Service Mission

How can you roll up the goal of your service into one clear, concise statement? A service mission statement is a guide for how your employees act from a service standpoint. And I say “guide” very intentionally because a policy is rigid, and doesn’t empower employees to use their best judgment in a situation to make a customer happy. Essentially, with the proper technical training, it serves as their customer service manual – it should be all they need. Starbucks’ service mission statement, for example, is – We create inspired moments in each customer’s day.

Each service statement should be accompanied by three to four pillars as well. These pillars are the avenues for how to accomplish that service statement. Starbucks’ pillars include anticipate, connect, personalize, and own.

  • Anticipate – This tells the employee to pay attention to the speed of time to service. If someone is in a suit checking a watch, they likely want to be in, out, and on with their day, while a soccer mom that just dropped the kids off in her minivan and walked in may want to hang around for a while.
  • Connect – It’s all about connecting with the customers. Employees are encouraged take advantage of the information they know, like the fact that Michael comes in three times a week and likes a soy latte. Even if it’s someone they don’t know, the company stresses the importance of making the connection, and doing something like complimenting them on a tie or dress.
  • Personalize– There are over 80,000 ways to order the drink, and the employees can make any one of those variations to provide a unique experience to each customer.
  • Own – This allows the employee to take charge in situations. Say someone makes a face about the coffee, or someone drops their drink – the employee has the power to make them a new one free of charge.

For your payroll company, ask yourself what your mission is for providing service to your clients and identify three or four key pillars to guide employees towards that service goal for every interaction. This allows the employees to turn around, do these three or four things, and in their head understand whether or not they met your service standards.

Creating a Culture of Service

Your service can only be as good as the employees you have. It starts with recruitment. You want to hire people that are passionate about providing extraordinary service. The entire team should be fanatical about customer service, and have those team members coach/police each other when a bad experience is witnessed.

You need to breed service throughout your organization, EVERYONE is in customer service. Whether dealing with internal team members or contacts from customers’ organizations, every interaction should be a great one. Your team needs to remember your customers are your life blood. They pay your employees’ salaries and without customers, they don’t have a job, so they have to do an incredible job serving them in all the departments of your group.

It starts from the top. If an employee is treated incredibly well, they’re going to treat your customers incredibly well. If your team members are unhappy, how can they make your customers happy? Your team needs to love where they work, coming to the office each day, and have like-minded, friendly people surrounding them.

Providing On-going and Endless Training

You want to continuously train employees well enough, so that they can follow your guidelines with the proper amount of technical experience and use their best judgment to make the right decisions. Too often people are following policy that they don’t want to break, which results in a poor service experience.

Standardization of technical training for new and existing employees needs to be done, so that the service experience is consistent, yet personalized. For new employees, you want to create a sort of training boot camp before they are allowed to deal with customers.

What are the biggest problems employees encounter the most? If you can identify those, and provide employees with a solution so they don’t have to find a manager, and can just solve it – that’s fantastic. A lot of great service companies have brief, daily ‘stand-ups’ or ‘pre-shift huddles’ with the team where management highlights on the good and bad occurrences of the previous day. Good customer experiences are celebrated publicly and the employee is called out to reinforce good behaviors. These meetings are also commonplace for sharing and reiterating weekly goals.

In part two of this post, we’ll cover building long-lasting relationships, unveiling the secrets of service, and measuring results. In the meantime, what service successes or roadblocks have you been experiencing in your payroll company? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

About Josh Davis:

Josh is the Marketing Manager at SaaShr, A Kronos Company, and is responsible for driving the strategy and implementing new traditional and digital tactics to increase the growth of existing channel partners in addition to the recruitment of new channel partners.

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