HR is a Commodity…Make it an Experience

experienceIf you’re in business, generally you sell a product or a service.  That product or service, based on a multitude of factors, is received by consumers in some experiential way.  On one end of the continuum, you have a “commodity.”  You can get it at a number of places, it’s pretty much the same wherever you get it.  “Goods” come next as you move up the curve.  There’s a way to differentiate those goods from your competitors through content or through delivery.  Next comes “Service” which has a continuum all of its own – from poor to excellent.  Finally comes an “Experience.”  The Experience may involve a product and/or a service, but it goes beyond the traditional commerce of buy and sell.  The consumer leaves that transaction with a memory, or an impression, or an emotion.  Disney World, for example, offers lots of products and services; most people, however, will tell you that what they love most about it is “the experience” (e.g. I lost my camera and not only did the park find the camera and return it to my hotel, but they presented me with a Disney frame to use after I print pictures.)  If you’re in charge of HR – or have some influence on how it provides goods and services to your employees – take a moment to assess whether your practice is closer to providing a commodity or an experience.  Just to be clear: providing timely paychecks, keeping people benefited, creating a safe and fair workplace, managing annual evaluations, responding to employee questions - those are commodities.  You do those things extremely well, and you’ll be luck to get “duh” out of your employees. 

When someone has a negative experience with HR, they’ll tell everyone.  When someone has a neutral experience with HR, they’ll tell no one.  When someone has a “difference making” experience, they’ll become your champion.  Let the goods and services be your platform, but make the experience your niche.

3 Responses to HR is a Commodity…Make it an Experience
  1. Kim H.
    November 12, 2009 | 1:51 pm

    Your ideas here are simplicity at their best and too often go unheeded. As HR has emerged from the SOP of a personnel function to a strategic partner, too many professionals seem to have picked up on an idea that a seat at the table should be a given and that their new role should be to govern or direct to their client groups, rather than to counsel, support and advise. What seems to have been lost, and what I think ties into your idea of developing an experience, is that HR business partners need to be just that—partners. Getting out on the front lines and having the opportunity to live in your partners’ world, understanding the business from their viewpoint, and listening to what matters to the team, and in so doing becoming an advocate for both the business and your employees. These are the experiences people remember and value.

  2. Charlie Judy
    November 13, 2009 | 5:26 pm

    @kim i think good partnerships and relationships do in fact translate into experiences and i agree that sometimes we rely on “the flavor of the month” to serve as that partnership as opposed to good old fashioned connection, genuine interest, dialogue, and a lot of listening. thx for the comment.

  3. Ali Anani
    December 28, 2009 | 4:53 pm

    This is a timely article. It covers a lot of landscape. We talk about emotional marketing and emotional selling. You highlight an important dimension: the emotional service as evidenced by your Disney World example.
    As much as emotions are important, we are still in need of improving our understanding of them. I have recently attempted to cover this issue in a presentation entitled “The Cost of the Fear CoAst”. Here is the link

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