By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech
Tomes have been written about optimizing the candidate experience. It has become a central feature of the modern recruiting landscape. Employers that do it well achieve better recruiting outcomes than employers that are careless with candidates or worse mistreat them. And of course, the candidate’s experience is also important to talent technology companies. After all, their products are often the vehicles that employers use to shape the candidate’s experience. For those companies, therefore, it’s the customer’s experience that matters most. Their ability to optimize what happens to, for and with recruiters is the key to achieving and maintaining bottom-line success.
Seeing and treating the recruiter as a customer begins with a clear understanding of what is meant by “the customer experience.” Beyond Philosophy, a consulting and training company that focuses on the customer, has offered one of the better definitions I’ve seen. It describes the customer experience as “An interaction between an organization and a customer as perceived through a customer’s conscious and subconscious mind.” I would add that it is not only a single interaction, but the sum total of all interactions experienced by the customer.
The facts! In a talent market that is more competitive and less understood than at any other time in history, it’s the facts that matter most. And TAtech’s biweekly podcast Start Smart focuses on the facts. Join me and my cohost, Shelia Gray, VP of Global Talent Acquisition at Quadient, as we examine the findings from the latest talent acquisition research and explore their implications for recruiters and job seekers. This week’s show looks at a report by Pew Research on “Gender Disparities in the Workforce During the Pandemic.”
Not surprisingly, a browser search of the term “optimizing the customer experience” yields a huge response – 29.3 million documents, in fact. Marketers and sales professionals in the commercial world have been thinking and writing about this topic for years. That’s not been the case for the customers of talent technology companies, however. Oh sure, there’s been plenty said about how recruiters can succeed by using technology-based talent acquisition products, but when it comes to how best to deal with those recruiters as customers, it’s pretty much been a barren landscape.
I suspect this lack of coverage is deliberate and reflects a competitive decision. No company – be it a job board or aggregator, a recruitment marketing & advertising agency or ATS provider, a CRM solution or programmatic ad buying platform – wants to reveal their secret sauce for optimizing the experience they provide to their recruitment customers. Blogging about it or presenting it at a conference is simply asking for trouble.
In addition, a customer experience strategy reflects the idiosyncratic culture and capabilities of the specific company implementing it. What works for one talent technology company may or may not work for another. That said, there are a number of universal principles that can improve any company’s approach to optimizing their customers’ experience. Here are three of the most important.
Transparency gets a lot of attention in the AI segment of the market, but its impact on customer relationships is equally as great in every other product segment. We humans – and especially customers – don’t like surprises or the feeling that we’ve been had, so they place a high value on those suppliers that proactively provide the quantity and quality of information that will avoid those outcomes. They’re aware that they don’t know what they don’t know, so they expect talent technology companies to initiate the information transfer and not sit back and wait for the employer to submit a list of questions.
Recruiter turnover has made personalization simultaneously harder and more important than at any other time in decades. It involves the time-tested principles of effective selling, of course, but also the more nuanced aspects of individual interactions. For example, personalization means showing up for calls and meetings on time and avoiding the use of technobabble and unnecessarily abstruse technical terms when detailing a product’s attributes. In an era of machines and automation, it is all about taking the time and making the effort to treat each and every customer as a fellow human being.
A lot of talent technology companies have unconsciously (or otherwise) set up two classes of customers. Before the contract is signed, the recruiter is a 1st class customer with all of the priority inherent in that designation. After the contract is signed, the same recruiter becomes a 2nd class customer and loses some or all of that importance. And yet, when customers report that they’re dissatisfied with a product, the fault almost always lies not with the product but with its implementation by recruiters. Optimizing their experience, therefore, means paying attention to them from sales through application on-the-job.
It's easy to see recruiters as simply the users of talent technology, but first (and maybe foremost) they are also customers. It’s critical, therefore, that solution providers develop and continuously apply a set of practices that will optimize the experience of recruiters in both of those roles.
Food for Thought,
Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can download his latest book – The Neonaissance – FOR FREE at OneStoryforAll.com. And, if you don't have time to read the entire book, just download a short excerpt of his inspirational message.