It can be difficult to define goals, implement processes and measure results on intangible data such as employee or customer satisfaction, but at Decision Toolbox (DT), we try to help our clients make smarter hires, and we have instituted a quality program in our daily processes to ensure these desired results.
We’d like to share with you how defining quality is never absolute, why program implementation must be about passion, what’s worth assessing and how to measure the un-measurable.
Quality Brings ‘Em Back
Before we dive into defining quality, we’d like to make a point that people sometimes miss. If a company is delivering results, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to invest time and effort into a quality program. It can be hard for smaller companies to prioritize resources, but quality is more than just a cost center. Results are important, but don’t necessarily ensure repeat business the way quality services can. For example, imagine you run a recruiting firm and consider these two scenarios:
- The client hired your candidate, but customer satisfaction was low.
- The client did NOT hire your candidate, but satisfaction was high.
Of course you want results and high satisfaction, but if these are the only two choices, wouldn’t you take the second one? You don’t want a clients’ business just for today — you want a partnership that works today, tomorrow and years from now. Your quality program should encompass not only results but also a process and service aimed at client satisfaction.
Quality Is in the Eye of the Beholder
In our experience, we’ve found that the definition of quality changes from client to client and even from one hiring manager (HM) to another. It may have to do with candidate volume, market intel, EOE compliance – the list goes on. This is just one reason it is crucial to establish a strong partnership with HMs – a recruiter’s ultimate clients.
You need to discover what’s important to the client at the start, and continue to get feedback during the project. While it’s hard to overstate the importance of the relationship with a client a recent internal audit at DT showed that in 80 percent of projects in which there was a problem, there was less engagement from the HM and breakdowns in communication.
Of course clients are busy. Who doesn’t have eight phone calls, three meetings, a lunch ‘n’ learn and a child’s ballet recital on their calendar for today? But frequent communication – maybe just a few minutes a week – enables you to continue sharpening your focus.
Communication: The GPS of Quality
You can do everything right according to your own business model, but without communication from the client you might miss their goals.
Tip: spend time in the role of consultant at the beginning, talk with the HMs and listen to their needs. Devote at least 45 minutes to this conversation, which can include brainstorming, level-setting expectations and education.
DT’s CEO, Kim Shepherd, calls this the inverted pyramid approach. Invest a little time up front to avoid spending a lot of time down the road.For example, DT recently worked with a client who said he needed a director of finance. After spending time listening to his needs, it became apparent to the recruiter (himself a certified public accountant) that the client really wanted a controller with some finance savvy. If we had not held the conversation and probed for information, we would have wasted time and effort looking for the wrong talent.
In addition to discovering what you might streamline early in the process, conduct a “post mortem” on random projects to see what you might have done sooner, had you known what you know now. That will provide ideas on how to make the next project even better.
Compromise Can Be Costly
You might experience pushback from a client on the idea of investing time up front to understand needs and challenges. We’ve often heard HMs say, “I gave you the job description –can’t you just find me some candidates?”
When you get this kind of pushback, do you compromise? It’s a tricky question. Evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis, but in general, the answer is no. Your passion for excellence should be such that you’ll be willing to walk away from business if the likelihood of delivering “defective” service is too great.
The cost of defective service, processes or results, is high. Most likely it would mean a poor hire for the client and no repeat business for the recruiter.
Don’t be driven by the dollars, but by a passion to help clients succeed and the dollars will follow. If you understand what your client needs, communicate the process frequently, and never compromise your standards, then quality service is sure to be yours!
Stay tuned for Part 2: “How to Inspire Passion That Drives Results” where we will share tips that will help improve your customer service by keeping your employees engaged.
Tom Brennan, Decision Toolbox senior writer contributed to this article.