The reality of business, and recruitment, is that, no matter how good your product is, your business is nothing without excellent customer service.
Kate Zabriskie, a veteran of the Learning and Development industry, said the following:
“The customer’s perception is your reality.”
It rings true especially in recruitment, because this industry can get a very bad reputation. Just type “Recruiters are” into Google and see what results come up.
So, how do you break free from the negative stereotype and offer good, consistent customer service? We’ve explored some of the ways in which this can be accomplished.
Build solid relationships
The recruiters in an agency are so critical to successfully implementing high customer service levels. They are the main point of contact for clients, candidates, etc. As a result, an agency is only as good as its recruiters.
As a recruiter, you want to be memorable (for the right reasons). Here are some tips on how to make a good, lasting impression with clients and candidates:
Do your research on them before you speak with them. Really understand their business, what projects are ongoing, their full product mix and latest news developments. It’s impressive and it feels good to know that a recruiter has a genuine interest in your requirements, and isn’t just looking at you and seeing commission.
Engage them in conversation that isn’t just about the role you need to fill, and remember what they say. This way, every time you speak with them you can reference something personal about them from your last correspondence. The effects are similar to the previous point: you come across positively and paint a good picture of the agency.
Set expectations for frequent communication with both your clients and candidates.Be their main point of contact at the agency. Whilst this is already a standard procedure with clients, it’s also important to be a candidate’s go-to recruiter. They’ll be more likely to come to you when they’re looking for a new role, put you in the right direction of other good candidates if they’re not available to fill the role themselves. They’ll recommend you by name to their friends and fellow professionals. And they may even point you in the direction of other roles that are being recruited for directly by a business.
Showcase your knowledge and expertise in your field by sharing content that you think is valuable and insightful. This is a great way to maintain a professional relationship with both your clients and contractors, are from a purely phone-based dialogue.
There is no difference in the importance of your clients and candidates, so maintaining a good line of communication is equally as important for both. As a result, the above points should be applied consistently to both your candidates and clients.
At the end of the day, people want to deal with real people. Not an automated service. And not a person who sounds like an automated service. Show you care, be consistent in your contact and make yourself memorable as an expert at what you do.
Set, manage and stick to expectations…and then do more
Richard Branson, aka the entrepreneur guru, once said:
“The key is to set realistic customer expectations and then not to just meet them but to exceed them, preferably in unexpected ways.”
He makes a good point, especially when it comes to setting your customer’s expectations.
- Don’t promise them the world
- Don’t offer to do everything for them up front
- Do stick with the process set out in your Service Level Agreement
- Do make sure your base service offering is good, as well as consistent
Stick to these four rules and then, everything else you do for your client will surprise them, as you’ll be going above-and-beyond what they had ever expected of you.
One thing to remember, however, is that, if you go the extra mile for one job with them, chances are that they’ll be expecting the same level of effort from you in for future work. So, just make sure whatever extra work you do for them is sustainable.
Don’t be a time waster
One of the most common complaints people have about recruiters is their apparent inability to stick to agreed times. Being “stood up”, whether that’s on email, over the phone or face-to-face, is a sure fire way to quickly blacklist your agency.
For your clients it’s frustrating. Their time is precious and recruiting for the role will be one of many things they have to get done – and it’s probably not that high up on their priority list.
It’s also annoying for your candidates. If they’re currently working they may be scheduling their breaks around a cal with you. And if you’re late to the call, or (even worse) you don’t speak to them at all, they may just walk away from the role – and from doing anything with your agency again.
All you need to do is:
- Send them an email when you said you were going to. Even if you don’t have an update for them at the time, it’s polite to let them know this and will show you haven’t forgotten about them.
- Call when you have told them you will. And, if you are going to be late or can’t make the call anymore, give them as much notice as possible, and rearrange straightaway. These situations happen, and they know that, so keep them updated and they’ll appreciate your communication with them.
- If you’ve arranged a face-to-face meeting, do not change it. If you really do have to, you must not leave it until the last moment. You don’t know the schedule of your clients and candidates, so if you let them know an hour before, chances are they’re already on their way.
We don’t think Maya Angelou had customer service in mind when she said the following quote, but it fits perfectly with the topic of this blog:
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Here are 75 customer service facts, quotes and stats to inspire you. Get your customer service to the same level as the quality of your product, and you’ll see your reputation, and your business, grow.