Last month, we focused on your candidates; this time, we’re looking at your clients and how your company and your employees interact with them. We’ll be examining how to strengthen or even repair your relationships with clients, how to deliver exceptional client service and how to keep client information organized.
Staffing companies are unique in that they have two separate, distinct markets and types of relationships: candidates and clients. The differences that tend to pop up when comparing how staffing firms engage with these two groups can serve as learning tools. Meanwhile, the similarities serve as a primer on great customer service.
B2C vs. B2B. To get all microeconomics on it, candidates function as individual economic actors, a.k.a. consumers. They make decisions on behalf of themselves alone (plus maybe their families) and their buying cycle is fairly short. Their focus is on the more immediate rewards of working with your company. Clients, meanwhile, are making decisions on behalf of their companies and tend to have a longer buying cycle. The rewards of working with your company are important, but so is the relationship your company builds with theirs.
They’re pursuing you vs. you’re pursuing them. Often, this situation is perceived as: candidates want something from you, whereas you want something from clients. However, if you view it only in those terms, you’re shortchanging clients, candidates and your own business. Try instead to view your company as offering something to clients (employment solutions) and candidates as offering something to your company (skills and labor). Good business is an exchange that leaves both parties better off, and you’re more than capable of providing that to both your clients and your candidates.
Mutual respect is a must. No matter which market you’re serving, they should be treated as you’d treat a dear family member. That’s the basis of any business relationship, and the cornerstone of customer service.
Communication is essential. Whether you’re letting a candidate know the status of their application or double-checking with a client to ensure that you understand their expectations, communication is vital. (And adding on to the previous point, communication should always be respectful.)
Good information systems help. Being able to call up your candidates’ employment history with a simple command makes it much easier to serve them, and keeping complete records of all the contacts you’ve made with a prospective client ensures that you don’t give them duplicate or conflicting messages.
It’s everyone’s job. Everyone in your company should be on the same page regarding the standards of treating clients and candidates well: how to answer phones, whom to direct email questions to, how quickly to respond to inquiries, etc. Customer service is as much a function of consistency as it is of deliberate excellence.
What about you? What differences or similarities do you see between the candidate experience and the client experience? Let us know in the comments!