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How Does Culture Affect Service?

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“So, what makes you guys different than the big guys?”

It’s a question we hear every day, and it’s a valid one. With a few very large providers out there, it’s easy to look at payroll processing as a commodity, simply something to price out and get as cheaply as possible. After all, isn’t the software doing most of the work anyway?

The truth, like so many things, is somewhere in the middle.

It’s true that over the past 20 years technology has radically changed the payroll business. Just a few years ago it might take a payroll 10 hours to process while today it’s near-instantaneous.

So if the technology playing field is even, what makes one payroll provider different from another?

Payroll, like the mail, never stops

Payroll, like the mail, never stops

It really is the service.

Remember the Seinfeld episode where Newman talked about the mail? Payroll is just like that.

Every week or two, lots of math has to happen for all of your employees, perfectly. If it does, no one thinks about it. After all, much like the lights going on when the switch is flipped, it’s supposed to just work, right? Except when it doesn’t. In those times, service really matters.

Lots of things contribute to payroll errors. From things as simple as a data entry error all the way to the Federal, State, or local government not applying taxes correctly. Both of these happen a lot, and when they do, business owners are faced with two things that make them cringe: angry employees and penalty tax notices from the IRS.

It’s in moments like these that either create amazing client loyalty or make people want to run for the hills.

Here at Balance Point, we know providing great service is usually a big part of why people choose to do business with us. They’re usually here because they had a bad experience somewhere else, or they’re starting a business and someone they trust told them about us. With so many new clients coming to us via word of mouth, maintaining great service is a big part of how we keep our reputation stellar in the community.

Here’s how we do it:

  1. Hire nice, smart people. Make sure they’re not jerks. Let’s face facts- running payroll isn’t glamorous. It’s detailed work that needs to be done perfectly or people get upset. We try to find people that have the detail skills to dive into a payroll problem and solve it, but also have the people skills to understand that we’re talking about someone’s paycheck, and hence their ability to take care of themselves and their families.
  2. Treat them like adults, and train like crazy. Our folks can wear (almost) whatever they want to work. We believe if they’re comfortable, that’s going to show up to our clients. We train often for certifications like the FPC and CPP. They’re both really hard, but do wonders in building confidence in the belief that we can tackle anything under the payroll sun.
  3. Keep an eye on things, but in a good way. Every client has one dedicated point of contact, so it’s easy to know who is accountable. Even with that, no one is perfect. We knew we’d need to rely on more than email to ensure nothing slipped through the cracks. Enter Zendesk. I could write a whole post just on Zendesk I love it so much, but to keep it brief I’ll say this: Zendesk gives us amazing insight into how we service our clients. It allows us to set rules around our time to first response, and overall how long it takes us to solve a problem. Beyond that, it gives us visibility into exactly “how” we service, so as we train we’re able to use actual examples. As a result, our team is very aware of what great service really looks like, and we focus on it like crazy!

In the end, we know service is a feeling that is subjective, and we’ll continue to strive to surprise and delight every client, every day. It’s who we are, and why we’re different.

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