Create a great customer experience

I had an exchange of email over the weekend with a disillusioned job seeker asking my advice as to how best to deal with what had been a series of appalling experiences with recruitment agencies.

I am sad to say it was nothing new, featuring experiences felt by many who have engaged with recruitment agencies and reflected a criticism that I have heard regularly over the last 17 years.  A lack of courtesy, communication, manners, calls not returned, the list goes on.  All poor.  None of them in isolation shocking, but all of which go about to create a dreadful customer experience.

Much of the love in the recruitment business goes to the employer.  It’s simple, the employer writes the cheque.  This has been enhanced in the last couple of years as we have moved to a job short market.  Chasing jobs has been the driver,  for this is how we make money.

The bit that gets missed is that without the candidate, we have nothing to give the client.  The candidate is our product and each one possesses a unique combination of skills, talent, attitudes, personality traits and experiences.  The mistake that has been made is in trying to commoditise a product that in no one case is ever the same, the result of which has been a poor experience for the candidate.

We seem to have forgotten that employers are employees.  People move seats.  Today’s candidate is tomorrow’s Hiring Manager.  It’s a perpetual cycle.  Rather than thinking Candidate and Client, just think Customer, just at different stages in the customer cycle.  If we encourage recruiters to understand this very simple point, then perhaps we would start to focus more on developing relationships for the longer term?

You will not place every candidate that you meet.  It’s important that you communicate that fact and manage the expectations of every candidate.  Do not over promise, then simply fail to deliver.  Be honest.  If you cannot help, if you don’t have a role that meets the candidates needs and skills, tell them.  If you cannot help, why not point them in the direction of someone you think can?  Think of the positive impression that leaves of you and your brand.

Every candidate we meet is a Father, Son, Mother, Daughter, Brother, Sister, Cousin, Colleague, a link to somebody else.  A recruiters job is simple, we broker deals between employers and employees.  Our network is the only asset at our disposal.  Success is entirely dependent on the strength of that network.  Everyone that we meet is a link to someone else.

Success in recruitment is about your ability to connect to and connect with people.  The simple things can make the difference.  If when the candidate calls in your are busy, return the call.  Even if it is just to say I am sorry nothing at the moment but I remain vigilant.  Be polite, courteous, helpful.  Manners cost nothing.  Treat people as you would wish to be treated yourself.  This alone creates a great customer service ethic.  One day soon your candidate is going to be in a post somewhere and you may want their help.  Why would they give you the time of day if you couldn’t be bothered to give yours when they most needed you?

Alongside economic recovery and the availability of credit, the ability to attract and retain talent is the key issue to business success.  The recruitment industry has a vital part to play in enabling that success.  Create great customer experiences for all, forget candidate or client, think customer and your chances of genuine long-term success as a recruiter is enhanced dramatically.


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