Poor Service Spurs Growing Regrets Among HR Tech Buyers

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Although customer service has become more of a factor in HCM technology purchasing decisions, vendors are falling behind in their efforts to satisfy the demands of HR leaders and other decision makers.

A survey by Kelton Global, commissioned by Ultimate Software, uncovered a decreasing sense of partnership between employers and vendors. As a consequence, HR tech customers report increasing difficulties with implementations, training, ongoing support and consulting.

Poor support leads more #HRTech customers to report troubles with implementations, training, ongoing support and consulting. @UltimateHCM @Kelton_Global #HR #HRTribe Share on X

In fact, the number of customers who say they regret their HCM purchasing decision has grown 8 percentage points, to 85 percent, since 2016, Kelton said. In addition, more executives report experiencing major customer service issues.

Are Vendors Listening?

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For vendors, this is dangerous ground. Decision makers today are 56 percent more likely to say customer service is of higher priority than product functionality than they were in 2016. Half say customer service and functionality are of equal importance.  

Solutions providers seem to have gotten the message, at least on paper. According to Gartner, they increasingly see customer experience (CX) as a key differentiator. More than 66 percent of organizations said they compete mostly on their CX track record, and 81 percent expect to compete mostly or completely on CX within two years.

However, that emphasis doesn’t seem to be translating to improved customer service in the HCM technology space. For instance, Kelton found:

  • Eighty-four percent of HR tech decision makers say they’ve experienced some type of customer service issue, up 8 percentage points from 2016. 
  • Sixty percent regret their choice of HCM provider because of unsatisfying partnerships.
  • Of those, more than half—53 percent—attribute their regret to poor customer service. That’s up from 39 percent in 2016.

Proactive Research

As they sort through potential solutions, many HR and IT leaders say they’re devoting more time examining vendors’ approach to customer service. And when they think of customer service, they don’t only consider help desks or dedicated support contacts. For example, one told us he prioritizes vendors who allow him to speak with developers and technical professionals in addition to sales and customer service staff.

Industry observers suggest the increased concern about customer service is a byproduct of HR technology’s consumerization. As employees have grown used to transacting by app, they’ve come to expect the same type of utility at work. No surprise there. However, with those increased expectations of simplicity came increased demand for customer service. And since employees often call HR, as opposed to vendors, when a self-service tool breaks down, it was inevitable that high-touch support would become of greater importance to HR teams.

In some ways, it seems vendors must get back to basics. HR leaders complained to Kelton about slow response times and a lack of expertise available through their vendor support channels– something 61 percent called extremely important. And just 46 percent said they have access to a dedicated support contact, meaning they must often reach out to multiple people in order to resolve an issue.

And while the proportion of customers willing to use self-service support tools is increasing, more than half—55 percent—still prefer to deal with real people. “Automation and self-service are important efficiency tools,” the report said, “but nothing can replace a well-trained representative.”

To download the full report, click here.

Disclosure: Ultimate Software is a partner of the HCM Technology Report.

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