What are the criteria for long-term business success? While that certainly looks different to every organization, it likely involves some view of past wins, adaptability and innovation, financial health, market growth and future vision. Have you also considered the impact of building a reputation as a service-oriented business has on brand endurance? Not just doing a great job at delivering results, but also truly providing exceptional service to clients and candidates and nurturing those relationships?
These are the advocates, or “raving fans” as deemed by Ken Blanchard, who are more likely to remain loyal and make future purchases, and are often willing to pay premium prices for those purchases.
Eric Gregg is the founder and CEO of Inavero, a national satisfaction survey firm that surveys clients and employees from companies primarily in business-to-business industries. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Eric and his work over the past few years, and recently invited him to make the cross-country trip from Portland to Atlanta to present at our company’s annual kickoff meeting. The message our leadership team wanted to focus on was one of exceptional client and candidate service and what that looks like, and Eric was the perfect choice to relay that message.
Eric’s company conducts an annual studycalled Opportunities in Staffingwith CareerBuilder that identifies the staffing industry’s satisfaction benchmarks, or net promoter score, and tracks the three metrics proven to have the biggest impact on long-term success: client and job candidate awareness, utilization and satisfaction. It reports on the gaps between the experience staffing firms say they provide and the experience clients and candidates say they actually receive.
Many have found the findings from this study to offer new perspectives around service and ways to enhance relationships with clients, talent and even internal teams.At our meeting, Eric presented his thoughts on creating emotional connections with clients and candidates to build long-lasting relationships. He focused on what remarkable service looks like and how certain staffing firm behaviors affect client and talent satisfaction.
Having Eric participate in our annual meeting was invaluable, and I want to pass along three of the takeaways from his presentation:
- Staffing firms tend to overestimate their own persuasiveness.While 75 percent of responding clients think a “referral from a friend or colleague” is the most trusted resource for determining the quality of a potential staffing partner, a whole 94 percent of staffing firms believe the same. Also, only 23 percent of clients find a “firm’s sales rep or recruiter” to be a resource on quality vs. 91 percent of firms.
Very few (13 percent) clients make a staffing partner choice based on price. What they want is for their staffing firms to educate, not just persuade. Among the staffing firm clients polled, here is what they identified as the top three attributes of a winning sales pitch:
- They knew more about my industry (29 percent).
- They shared information that helped improve our recruiting (26 percent).
- They shared current hiring trends (25 percent).
There are specific things we can do to improve satisfaction among our key stakeholders. Clients and job candidates both note “lack of responsiveness” among the three biggest mistakes staffing firms make in the field. Here are the others:
- For clients, many find staffing firms are also too pushy or aggressive (46 percent) and misrepresenting the people they are trying to place (42 percent).
- Key mistakes according to job candidates include “not being trustworthy or only looking out for their own interests” (31 percent) and “not searching enough to find me open positions” (20 percent).
Whatever side of the coin you are on — staffing company or hiring organization — knowing where potential shortfalls lay will only help build deeper, more productive, relationships. Proactively address these areas with each other, build benchmarks and best practices for exceptional service, and follow through.
When clients and candidates are unhappy, business declines. It affects employees negatively, too, and that gets to the heart of your organization. When satisfaction is high, though, it can propel you to the next level of success and beyond — it’s a direct line to the bottom line. It’s also a fun and fulfilling way to run a business.