I read with interest Rachel Anderson's article in this months Payroll Professional magazine, where she reviews common causes for complaints against payroll outsourcing firms. In the article she flags 3 main areas of complaint which, despite improved accuracy and reduced costs for payroll, seem to overshadow the service provided leading to high levels of dissatisfaction.

The areas highlighted were

  • Poor account management
  • Change controls
  • Lack of continuous improvement

While I wholeheartedly agree that it is the payroll outsourcing firms obligation to strive and develop each of these areas, certainly if the client is to be ultimately retained, it would be interesting to know the type of payroll customers that Rachel included in her research.

I believe that there is a huge gulf in terms of service delivered by outsourcing firms to smaller companies than to larger companies with major contractual obligations.

In essence a smaller firm is dependent on meeting and exceeding client expectation for its very existence. Without delighting customers, they will not be retained and will not refer other businesses to you. It is this referral mechanism that enables smaller providers to grow their own businesses as they do not have huge marketing resources to win new contracts.

Also contracts at the lower end of the outsourcing scale (say up to 500 employees) tend to be less  regimented with short notice cessation periods, again focussing the mind of the smaller outsourcing firm on retaining business through high levels of service.

We tend to focus our efforts on developing customer care programmes and staying in close contact throughout with our customers. This has helped us to grow by over 300% in recent years. If you get customer service right then your business will succeed.

We do share Rachel's sentiments though with some of the larger national and international processing firms. When we pick up new clients that were previously with larger payroll outsourcing firms the main reason quoted for leaving is the perceived indifference of a faceless organisation. We shouldn't complain though, picking up new work from larger nationals is excellent news for us.

With a small flexible team we know we can deliver (and our clients regularly tell us) a fast to react personal service that the mid tier clients want and need with a full customer care package behind it. Making sure that we can respond before any payroll issues arise.

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Written by Richard Rowell
Published on April 13, 2009