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“Shopper Insights” techniques for HR professionals | 50 Customer Centric questions for HR to do good HR work Outside – In.

If you agree with what Dave Ulrich advocates in his latest book Outside In, then building relationships with your customers is key to achieving previously untapped HR Value.

Although he has been advocating this for a few years now, when he asks HR professionals

     “How many of you have spent time with your customers?” Typically the response is none.



So what we know is that typically HR do not spend time with customers. We also know the HR profession have their very own set of vocabulary which can get lost in translation with non HR people. So unless your customers are HR people, you need to translate your key HR priorities into their language which is relevant to their experience. This is how you will find out how your good HR work will create value for customers.

This is what he had to say recently, “Rather than becoming an employer of choice, that employees choose– become an employer of employees, your customers choose.”

So what do your customers look for in your HR work?


Do you think our employee wellbeing programme is effective?


Do our people display energy and alertness?


Are our employees functionally competent? This is where you can unpack specific learning and development interventions. By example if you have recently invested in business writing skills training. You could ask,


How do you rate the quality of written communication from people in our organisation?

Do our people demonstrate good technical knowledge of the products or services they are offering you?


Do you think our customer excellence training programme was effective?


Do our people deliver excellence in all of their dealings with you?


Is our leadership programme effective?


Do our employees demonstrate our companies Vision, Mission & Values? You may want to unpack these for them and rate them accordingly.


Is our cultural sensitivity programme effective?


Do our people exhibit respect towards you and their colleagues despite race, gender or age?”


So here we go: 37 Customer Centric Questions for HR Professionals who hang out with their customers.

You can create a rating system.                         1 being least like this and 5 being most like this

  1. Our people demonstrate punctuality at all times.
  2. Our people always show up looking presentable.
  3. What image do our employees convey about the company by the way they are dressed?
  4. Our company exhibits a good balance in terms of gender diversity.
  5. Our company exhibits a good balance in terms of racial diversity.
  6. Your experience with our people reflects our brand value proposition.
  7. Our people demonstrate kindness.
  8. Our people demonstrate technical knowledge about our products and services
  9. Our people can communicate effectively about our products or services.
  10. Our people demonstrate knowledge about many different offerings in the market
  11. Our people are responsive.
  12. Our people are willing to take on challenges.
  13. Our people are able to cope well in difficult situations without becoming emotional. Our people love their job.
  14. Our line managers support the people who report to them.
  15. Our collective leadership serves you well.
  16. Our people’s decisions create value for you.
  17. Our people always look healthy and well.
  18. We hire the very best people in our industry.
  19. We retain our best people well.
  20. Our people demonstrate a high level of integrity and ethics in all of their dealings with you.
  21. Our people/company show a strong sense of corporate social responsibility in what we do.
  22. Our products/services meet your required quality standards.
  23. Our people do not complain about their pay.
  24. Our people seem appropriately rewarded for the value they create.
  25. Our people are not stressed.
  26. Our people do not show signs of burn out.
  27. Our people are effective within their teams.
  28. Our people are committed brand ambassadors for our organisation.
  29. Our people take a pride in their work.
  30. We respond well to change in trading conditions.
  31. We show you that we value / respect and appreciate you as a customer.
  32. We demonstrate good governance and compliance in our dealings with you.
  33. Our people are passionate about their work.
  34. Our people demonstrate innovative thinking in all of their dealings.
  35. Our people are willing to go the extra mile.

And then….

What made you decide to become one of our customers? Or, as in the case of an ex customer, what made you decide to leave us?

If you could re-hire, train or develop anyone in our organisation what would you do differently?

Some more tips and ideas:

Why not spend time with customers who you have recently lost? Better still, if this is of significant importance to you, hire the services of a Shopper Insights Company to conduct a survey on your behalf. But as Martin Lindstrom and Dave Ulrich strongly advise you should still spend time and hang out with your customers.


Professor Dave Ulrich has consulted and done research with over half of the Fortune 200. His honours exude a consistent track record of global influence and authority in human resources and business management.  His research is based on collective feedback from over 60 000 line managers and HR professionals on the competencies required to improved business performance.

An accomplished and celebrated educator Dave is sought after the world over to present his findings and educate businesses. He has published over 200 articles and book chapters and over 25 books which he has co-authored with numerous fellow thought leaders.

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