The Year of the Customer

We have heard from various articles that 2014 is the Year of the Customer. That statement is pretty easy to comprehend when a salesman is selling cars or a physician is treating patients. But what does that really mean for a human resource professional?

First, we must consider the number of customers that we have, as it isn’t just one group of people. Let’s start with the internal customers that work for the same organization. Even these are multiple, separate groups. Your own HR team deserves the same customer service and attentiveness as everyone else does so it starts there. Next comes the leadership that sets the expectation, standards and desired outcomes. They are customers that ask for data, budget outcomes, strategic planning and results. Maybe you don’t count them as true customers but they are.

The next group of internal customers are those hiring managers that can make or break you in your recruitment position. What kind of relationship do you have with them? Have you been to their departments? Talked to the people that work there? Do you understand the culture of the unit and the type of candidate that will be successful there? Having a solid grasp on the position skills and behaviors is very important to being able to fill the opening with the most qualified person. To do all of this, you must have a true partnership relationship with each hiring manager. Once you work together toward the same goal, the respect and teamwork will be mutually appreciated.

The last group of internal relationships that you build are those other areas that interface with HR recruitment on a daily basis. They too are important to the success of your recruitment program and will include titles such as compensation, education and training, IT and marketing.

Let’s move outside of the organization now and discuss the external customers. The first sector is the local regional relationships that you have developed in the community. These may include your local schools, guidance counselors, relocation experts and others. Outside your community you may be involved in statewide or national organizations and develop business ties to vendors for background checks, sourcing, advertising, etc. All of those are important to your position but let’s discuss the most important customer that you have – the applicant.

Before we talk about the applicant, I would like you to put on your “applicant hat” and recall the last experience you had when you searched for a job. If it was a long time ago, it was probably a fairly positive responsive experience. There were frequent conversations, a hiring manager eager to see you and sell the department and a decent time frame for decision-making. Now add technology and the new and improved processes.

First, someone that has no relationship with the hiring manager nor understands the culture and the unique selling points of the department may do sourcing. Application processes are normally long and tedious and then normally go into the applicant-tracking queue. From there, you may be using software to screen the applicants via technology so that the final “qualified” candidates will reach the recruiter’s computer for review.

Depending on your process, the recruiter may visually screen and pick the top few and forward to the hiring manager. In other organizations, the recruiter will do a phone screen and then set up an interview when appropriate. Once interviewed, often the applicant is sent away to then wait for contact from the hiring manager for the next step. Best practice processes will move the interview immediately to the hiring manager or perhaps do the interview together. The quicker the better as we can’t forget that strong candidates are interviewing elsewhere and may be lost to your organization because of your process.

Treating your candidate with respect is crucial and continually informing them of next steps, time frames, decision date, etc. is very important. It is all about treating the applicant the way you would want to be treated. Technology has added excellent expertise to the hiring processes in today’s world with sourcing, applicant tracking, screening, references, background checks, onboarding, etc. all online. Most organizations have the tools they need but we can’t forget the people are what make the difference. How you, as an HR professional, move the candidate through the system and how you treat the applicant is often the winning factor. Excellent customer service is still extremely important to the success of HR recruitment.

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TMP Worldwide
Written by TMP Worldwide

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