The End User Experience: Staffing Firms, Clients and Talent

What does remarkable client service look like, and how can our behaviors affect client and talent satisfaction? Answers to these questions can become points of differentiation for any staffing firm and the launch pad for creating mutually beneficial business relationships. Likewise, companies who work to identify compatible staffing partners can maximize the return on their investment, and job candidates can make connections for new opportunities they might not have otherwise.

To understand where we’re going, it helps to know where we are. Inavero and CareerBuilderconduct an annual study that identifies the staffing industry’s satisfaction benchmarks, or net promoter score, and tracks the three metrics proven to have the biggest effect 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. Here are some statistics from the latest study:

  • 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, 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 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).

Having an understanding of where clients and candidates stand on the staffing firm relationship will help drive internal programs and service focus. But even with the best planning and intentions, service failures will happen. It is how the situation is handled that makes the difference.

In a recent presentation, Inavero CEO Eric Gregg offered insight that it’s not if things will go wrong, but when. Forty-five percent of customers experienced at least one service failure — such as talent leaving an assignment early, lacking the necessary technical skills or not fitting into the client culture — in past 12 months working with a staffing firm.

Communication is key to any good working relationship. The more information a company provides about its staffing needs, expectations and goals, the better equipped the staffing partner will be to deliver results. Gregg said that to move forward in the most positive and efficient way, “recognize service failure for what it is — an opportunity to show who you really are.”

 Staffing partners are generally brought on to reduce the workload associated with recruiting the talent, which allows the company to focus on other areas of human capital management. When things have to be fixed, it’s a distraction, but how quickly that distraction is addressed will define your relationship. Care to share any best practices on fixing problems when they arise?