The marketing opportunity is boundless when we consider HR’s internal customers. In my experience, effort must be focused on understanding HR’s internal customer groups, their motivations, and how HR can add value across these groups. Basic but important questions to answer should include:
Question 1 – do I know the business’ customers?
Armed with new perspectives from directly engaging with a firm’s customers, HR's efforts and activities can become more aligned to the business priorities and commercial realities. For example, knowing more about market and customer trends and how the business plans to address them may have significant implications for recruitment, compensation, training, organisational development, etc.
Experiencing customers’ perceptions, empowers HR to take a more proactive stance with their colleagues in the business. But beware of falling into the trap of some HR teams and build your own independent HR agenda based solely on these insights, since there is a real risk that your efforts will evolve at a tangent to the business strategy. Influence, challenge and contribute to the strategic conversations of the business - absolutely! Always ensure, however, that your own functional strategies, actions and ideas are driven by, or at least fully aligned with the overall business priorities and strategies.
The most effective HR strategies are invisible and are an integral and indivisible part of the business strategy.
Question 2 - can I segment my internal customers?
There are many different ways to do this. Some are obvious: by function, by management level, by business unit, by region, etc. But depending on the business challenges and availability of information, there may be more valuable alternatives that cut across these boundaries, for example: employee attitude or behaviour (this approach could be very appropriate for businesses embarking on a major change programme), performance rating, age (e.g. recognising the different motivations and communication preferences of Generation Y)...
Question 3 - how should I prioritise my customers?
This will clearly depend on your objectives, but with these in mind, the key is to evaluate the ‘attractiveness’ of each of the segments to ensure that you ultimately deliver your objectives. Try listing a few key criteria that you could use to screen and eventually priorities your segments, e.g. segment size (based on the number of people in the segment, or revenues/profits generated by that segment), expected growth of the segment, barriers or your ability to influence / have an impact in that segment, how much 'competition' there is in the segment (conflicting priorities and initiatives that will take resources and management attention away from your efforts). The desired outcome here is to have a clear and prioritised list of your target customer segments
In my next post, I will discuss the steps HR can follow to create a compelling value proposition.