Having worked with hundreds of Cezanne HR’s customers over the years, and managing his own team of 15 + employees, Peter Hall is very well placed to understand and help with the challenges that HR professionals face. As the Head of Customer Support, Peter has an ongoing direct line to HR’s needs and an in-depth understanding of how Cezanne HR can meet them.
Peter, can you tell us how your role and your team has evolved to meet Cezanne HR’s customer needs?
I joined Cezanne HR in its early days, when it had just become its own entity, separate from its ‘parent’ company, Cezanne Software – Alberto explained our history in another recent article. My role was to build the customer service team from the ground up, taking over from our developers who’d been both creating and supporting the new product up to that point.
Sitting with the development team in the beginning meant I learnt the product and the business’ approach to service first hand from those who knew the product best – the ones building it. The dev team are a friendly helpful team, and they assisted me a lot! We also shared an office back then with Cezanne Software, so I was able to learn from their customer service team, too.
I took everything I learnt when I started, including the company values, and built the Cezanne HR customer service team as we know it today. What began as a very ‘ticket’ oriented role for me, rapidly became more sophisticated to include training new staff members and really understanding the mechanisms behind how support works – creating a strategy for support to best meet our customers’ needs.
What training have you undergone to deepen your insights about the HR profession?
A few years into my role at Cezanne HR, I recognised that I knew a lot about our product and how we help our customers, but I wanted to better understand the wider HR context. I investigated CIPD’s qualifications and undertook a master’s in human resource management (CIPD qualification level 7).
The CIPD course really helped me develop my knowledge about HR, and it was also invaluable in my role as a people manager. And since I did my CIPD qualification, others at Cezanne HR have also studied with the CIPD, making us stronger and more knowledgeable as a team.
What do you think is coming next for HR?
HR in the UK is emerging into a new world, living and working alongside COVID-19. All the buzz about hybrid working reflects how flexible working, which was progressing naturally up to the start of the pandemic, has now been accelerated by decades.
As HR discovers new issues to contend with, they’ll also need to manage perennial workforce challenges, and be aware of where the new and old collide. HR will be asking itself:
- how to balance the needs of employees who love working form home and want to continue doing so, with those who want to be back in the office
- how to stay equitable when those at home have the advantage of no commute, while those in the office benefit from more face-to-face interactions, and
- how to keep teams who don’t spend time with each other motivated.
As a manager of a large team, I’m fascinated to see how HR deals with these issues so I can implement best-practice for my own people.
How does the changing working landscape impact your support team?
The more experience I’ve gained, the more I’ve realised that strategy is key. Alongside that, I also know that we’re now working in a new environment, and that we’ll discover what works best as we go. I’ve identified that being self-driven is an important attribute for my team, and when we switched to working from home full time, that became indispensable.
I’m also very aware that we work with customers in lots of different countries, who have had varying experiences of COVID-19. As a support team, we’ve always had to be adaptable due to having a wide customer base, and I predict that this will only increase for us.