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Is customer service more of a buzzword than an actual priority in the recruitment sector……?

Just how seriously do recruitment companies take customer service?  Who takes responsibility for driving customer experience?  And more worryingly, has customer service become a kind of ‘fad’ (a little like social corporate responsibility) that companies strategically talk about to improve their public perception but in reality do not have the intention nor inclination to actually deliver?

In fairness, this isn’t unique to the recruitment sector but this is where we will focus.  What makes it all the more interesting is the fact that customer service and customer experience is entirely subjective for any company providing a service and to any customer using that service, regardless of sector.  The same service provided by a particular company can for one individual be exceptional yet be distinctly average for another. 

One thing is for sure, we sure like to talk about customer service.

“Most people and companies love to talk about it.  In fact last year 75% of companies said their number one priority was to improve customer experience,” according to Blake Morgan appearing in www.forbes.com back in September 2017.

If customer service is of such paramount importance, I guess it makes sense to look at who is responsible for driving the customer experience and for ensuring the entire business is pulling in the same direction and delivering the collective objection.  This is where things become somewhat murkier, particularly in recruitment where there seems to be a tendency to presume that every consultant rather than a specific individual is responsible for customer service. 

Morgan goes on to say:  “When we say “customer experience is everyone’s job,” and it’s technically not, the customer experience will get lost”.

I know a fair amount of people who work in recruitment in addition to all of our lovely staff here who have previously worked for a variety of companies and nobody can remember any of their previous employers having somebody dedicated to the customer care side of the business.  It seems that while many recruitment companies promote a commitment to improving the customer journey, few actually have a clear leader to drive this strategy forwards and rightly or wrongly most choose to rely on their consultants to take full responsibility for this.

This seems a little strange for a number of reasons:

  • Is there a transparent and clear message across the business with regards to customer service expectations?
  • There is always a possibility for individuals to “go rogue” or “off-piste” without guidance
  • How are levels of service monitored? Who is responsible for monitoring it?  And critically without this, how can service be improved?
  • Consistency of service can be severely compromised

While every employee clearly has a responsibility for delivering the customer service strategy and living and breathing that culture, without somebody leading that function there will always be a distinct lack of accountability. 

I guess that leads me to question just how seriously recruitment companies actually take customer service and furthermore, the cynic in me makes me wonder if people are simply saying they are looking to improve customer experience as a sort of tick box exercise rather than making a genuine commitment to improving it.  Maybe I’m wrong but since I have been in this role I have spoken to a lot of clients and candidates and the same old frustrations (lack of feedback, feeling like a number) are still rife in our industry and much of this seems to come down to understanding client and customer expectations and delivering the appropriate level of service.

I am not claiming to have all the answers but at Novo we are at least making a genuine attempt to shake off this poor image of recruitment and prioritise service over sales.

I would love to talk to any other people working in a customer care capacity within the recruitment space and share our experiences.

Please feel free to get in touch.