Improving the HR Experience: A Model for Success
By Vonya Alleyne, Vice President of Human Resources, Cox Communications, Virginia Region

Exceptional customer experience begins with the employee’s experience. That was the guiding principle for Cox Communications Virginia senior human resources (HR) leaders, as we set out to uniquely apply an external Customer Experience model internally to improve HR service levels and our customers’ perceptions. The results were surprising!

Impacting Business Success through the Employee Experience
Although as HR service providers, we generally do not compete for our customers, the level of service we provide influences the overall employee experience. That experience influences employee commitment and the level of service delivered to the company’s external customers — who do have choices in the marketplace.

Feedback showed HR’s internal customer experience was generally positive. However, there is always opportunity for improvement.  Recognizing the impact of the HR experience on business success, Cox Virginia senior HR leaders sought to better gauge our effectiveness and identify opportunities to improve. Specifically, we wanted to know how well we were doing with meeting three key objectives:

  1. Meeting internal customers’ needs
  2. Delivering amazing employee experiences with consistency
  3. Enriching our employees’ lives

Utilizing the eNPS model, we reached out to the top 50 Cox Virginia leaders to rate our effectiveness. Based on the Net Promoter Score®, eNPS is a method for measuring how likely employees are to recommend the company to a friend or colleague.[1]  Based on their responses to specific questions, employees are identified as promoters, passives or detractors. NPS® can be as low as −100 (everybody is a detractor) or as high as +100 (everybody is a promoter). An NPS® greater than zero is felt to be good, and an NPS® of +50 is excellent.

To establish a baseline for Cox Virginia HR employee Net Promotor Score (HReNPS), we asked leaders to rate us in four simple, but critical, focus areas:

  • Communication:  Please rate the effectiveness of your HR Department in communicating in a clear, concise and timely manner. (ensuring customers are informed/efficient/resourceful)
  • Understanding Needs:  Please rate the effectiveness of your HR Department as it applies to understanding the needs of you and your team. (interactions that are focused and personalized/ proactive with timely results / supportive and open-minded)
  • Simplifying Transactions:  Please rate the effectiveness of your HR Department in simplifying interactions to create unifying HR experiences through relevant, documented processes that enhance business outcomes.
  • Safe and Positive Environment:  Please rate the effectiveness of your HR Department in creating a safe and positive environment where HR is seen as an approachable partner of choice. (by supporting you with respect / seeking first to understand / being receptive to ideas / acknowledging when we are wrong)

Leaders responded to each question by giving a numeric rating and commenting on their interactions with the Virginia HR team.  Possible scoring ranged from -100 to 100. (See Table 1 for specific results.) Averaging response scores across all four questions resulted in an overall HReNPS of 20.9 — which was good, but left room for improvement. Having established our baseline, the next step was to improve upon it.

Targeting Improvement: Our Goal and Commitments
At an HReNPS of 20.9, we were starting from a solid position, but we knew we could do better. We wanted to set a goal that would stretch us but that would also be achievable. So we engaged the HR functional teams around a target to increase HReNPS with Cox Virginia senior leaders by 10%, from 20.9 to 23, in a six-month period.

Each team went to work. They considered the feedback gathered in the baseline interviews and established team goals to positively impact the feedback. Next, they determined weekly commitments within their respective spans of control that would move them toward the goal. Commitments were tracked weekly through 15-minute focused huddles where each team member reported on their current week’s commitments and set commitments for the week ahead.  The functional improvement plans that each HR team committed to are listed below.

Safety, Risk & Security:

  • Enhance Business Continuity Planning education
  • Increase visibility among departments
  • Share safety trends and tell the story on business impacts

Employee Relations:

  • Better integrate secondary support with clients
  • Increase visibility among departments
  • Provide in-person support and proactively share support grid with clients

Compensation, Benefits and Payroll:

  • Improve proactive outreach to leaders and employees
  • Increase visibility among departments
  • Develop an on-line navigation tutorial
  • Create an annual HR calendar for leadership
Training and Organizational Development (T&OD):
  • Provide new leaders with a leadership and professional development catalog
  • Share leadership development tools with current leaders
  • All T&OD team members will share and review development resources with key customers

The Results
After six months of implementing the functional improvement plans and weekly huddles, we revisited our initial survey group and asked them to rate us again using the same four questions. This time, overall HReNPS jumped to 50.8 — an increase of 29.9 points or 143%!  This result far exceeded our desired goal of 10% improvement.

We were especially pleased that ratings increased in all four focus areas: Communications, Understanding Needs, Simplifying Transactions, Safe and Positive Environment. Utilizing the closed loop feedback approach, learning from the information collected, taking specifically targeted actions to drive the goal, and monitoring weekly to stay on track enabled each team to drive drastically improved relationships with our internal customers. (See Table 1 for specific results.)

We are not done yet — there is always opportunity to get better. The eNPS method has given us a disciplined process to engage each team member’s focus to create improvement.  In 2015, the Cox Virginia HR team continued to utilize the eNPS method to elevate employees’ HR experience, and thereby better support our employees’ capacity to serve and delight our external customers.  For 2015, we wanted to raise the bar by going deeper in the organization to engage even more leaders to provide us with feedback.  Similar to the 2014 results, the 2015 baseline HReNPS of 36 was good, but there was room for improvement.  Following the same model from 2014, overall HReNPS increased favorably by 18.2 points to an HReNPS of 54.2, or 50.2% improvement at the end of 2015.  The HReNPS results for both years are illustrated in the tables below.

* "Net Promoter Score" is a customer loyalty metric developed by (and a registered trademark of) Fred ReichheldBain & Company, and Satmetrix. It was introduced by Reichheld in his 2003 Harvard Business Review article "One Number You Need to Grow".[1]

Table 1

2014 survey participants were comprised of Vice Presidents and Directors within Cox Virginia.

Table 2

2015 survey participants were comprised of Managers within Cox Virginia.


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