Why Do Businesses Lie About Customer Service?

Why Do Businesses Lie About Customer Service?

Business owners and executives continue to extol the virtues of customer service. But when it comes to commitment, they are full of hot air.

You don’t have to go far or listen hard to hear stories of bad customer service. Everyone you speak to seems to have a customer service story that is worse than yours. Just this past weekend, I again was jinxed by a rash of bad customer service experiences.

First I stopped by a pharmacy (a national chain) to pick up two simple items. I looked around for the friendly face of an employee but there were none to be found. To be specific, I’m not talking about a friendly face…I’m talking about any face at all!

After wondering up and down the aisles, I finally found two travel tubes of toothpaste. I then headed for the checkout line – which was empty. Most notably there was an absence of any cashiers. I waited for a few minutes only to notice two employees standing outside – smoking. I waved to them through the large windows….but was ignored. I then went outside and asked, “is there anyone who can check me out?” To which they responded, “we’ll be there in a minute. We have to hang this sign.” Why it took two people to tape one sign to a window, I don’t know. But this obviously took precedence over my need to pay. Without even the slightest hesitation, I reached out, handed them the toothpaste, and drove away. A few other customers remained inside, wondering around the store. Hopefully they were honest souls because no one was watching the store – or for that matter working in it. Management at least at this company store seems to have cut back on human resources and service a bit too deep. From the lack of traffic, other customers must agree.

Later in the day we went to dinner with friends. We had a large group so we requested separate checks. The waitress said, “no problem” and took our orders. But apparently it was a problem for her since not one of the six couples received a check with the correct orders on it. One of our friends motioned to her and told her the checks were wrong. To this she replied, “I’m really sorry.” And then proceeded to ask us to “figure it out ourselves because [I’m] not really good with math.” We did figure the checks out and decided next time we’d dine elsewhere.

While neither of these incidents was horrific, the outcomes were the same – dissatisfied customers who at the very least will do business elsewhere next time.

Michael LeBoeuf in his book How To Win Customers and Keep Them for LifeCustomer Service Assessment Test cites a survey designed to discover why customers quit doing business with a company. The survey revealed that 68% quit because of an attitude of indifference toward the customer by the owner, manager or some employee. In both of the experiences I just shared, indifference was crystal clear. When considering the life time value of a customer, studies indicate it costs roughly 300 to 700 times an hourly worker’s rate. That’s a lot of money that few businesses can afford to absorb but management seems complacent enough to keep paying.

The real crime is that these bad customer service experiences can be prevented if employers would take a few steps to hire employees with a positive customer service attitude and good skills. But employers continue to seek candidates who have good customer service skills and then hire any warm body who accepts the job. When you consider the high cost of a bad hire, the ROI associated with improving employee screening and interviewing is significant. By combining a good behavioral interview with pre-employment testing, business owners can hire better, reduce turnover, improve customer retention, and save thousands of dollars.

So what will it take for companies to recruit and hire employees who have a positive customer service attitude and commitment?

 

This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page! 

 

Employers Scale Back Job Boards; Expand Social Media

In a trend started during the latter half of the past decade, employers were forced to sift through mounds of online applications, thanks to the convenience of online job boards. The recession and millions of displaced workers only exacerbated the challenge. Recruiters are forced to read a lot of applications submitted by candidates who don’t qualify. That has led many employers to scale back their use of online job boards.

According to a December survey from the Corporate Executive Board, about 24% of companies plan to decrease their usage of third-party employment websites and job boards this year. Instead nearly 80% of the companies surveyed are hiring a different breed of recruiters who can find passive candidates, using networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn , as well poaching candidates from competitors.

The experience of a Northeastern Wisconsin employer highlights the problem of what I projected several years ago would be a “resu-mess.” The employer had 134 $15-an-hour entry-level job openings. It received 850 applications. After reviewing them for high school diplomas or GED certificates, work history and experience, it eliminated 450 applicants. The remainder were tested for physical dexterity and given eighth-grade reading and math tests, which eliminated 208 more. The remaining 192 applicants were given personal interviews which focused on character issues.

That article enticed me to visit our applicant processing system to assess the relationship between the number of ad views to completed applications per open position. For Chief Marketing Officer, 285 potential candidates viewed the ad using a combination of an online job board and LinkedIN. Seventy-two completed the application, but only one candidate met the requirements of the client. A sales executive position attracted 170 candidates after being viewed by 5,636 jobseekers. A search for hospitality associates caught the eye of 21,234 candidates. Eight hundred thirty-nine (839) applied. Less than 150 applicants qualified for interviews.

This sheer volume of applications is forcing companies, small and large, to rethink how they recruit. Simply cutting back on posting jobs to CareerBuilder or Monster isn’t enough.

Qualified but passive candidates are building connections in LinkedIn. But many companies have blocked accessibility to networking sites. Human resources professional, generally a conservative group, are also often reluctant to join networking sites. Without access to online networks and a robust list of connections, recruiters are fighting this war for talent in handcuffs.

This onslaught of applications is also being processed and filtered by fewer recruiters and downsized human resources departments. Recruiting, compliance and administrative human resources functions in many small businesses are handled by one employee.

More applications and fewer resources lead to delays in responding to candidates. Top candidates may fall through the cracks and be ignored. Likewise, they might be turned off by a slow response and lack of acknowledgment. That’s an ill-advised strategy that employers competing for a precious few qualified employees afford to continue.

An online applicant processing system (APS) is one solution many companies are adopting. An APS allows employers to open the recruiting funnel without overwhelming resources to filter out unqualified candidates.

Applicant Tracking and Processing SystemUsing an APS, a hiring manager creates a job listing and then adds screening filter questions. Each question is carefully weighted and prioritized. Candidates can apply using an unlimited number of online job boards such as CareerBuilder, Monster, Indeed), free job boards, social media networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, employee referrals, and other sites like Craig’s List. When the manager logs into the APS system, he or she can quickly view all candidates or filter for only candidates who meet the minimum qualifications. Unqualified candidates can be notified automatically using the system’s email templates.

An online Applicant Processing System is a smart, cost effective solution to a growing problem confronting nearly every organization – recruiting qualified candidates.


This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page!
 

 

More Sales, Lower Turnover? Hire Higher Cognitive Abilities.

Ask an employer to name one characteristic that makes one employee stand out above all others and he’ll likely say attitude, work ethic, or team player. Unfortunately up until now, few of these employers could really prove what traits and attitude differentiated employees that positively impacted the bottom line from those that didn’t.

But an article in this month’s issue of HR Magazine cited how Bon-Ton, a department store chain, helped identify specific traits of candidates that could sell more per hour and reduce turnover. Most importantly, the result allowed them to do both. Up to this point, many HR managers and subsequently their employers were satisfied to accomplish one or the other. In today’s world, a top performing salesperson must be able to do both – sell more and stay longer.

According to the article, once Bon-Ton’s cosmetic sales group developed and implemented pre-employment assessment tests in their hiring process, the company was able to increase tenure by 12 percent and accomplished a 3 percent more sales-per-hour with the first year.

Cognitive AbilitiesWhat was most surprising though was that it wasn’t customer service, communication style, or attitude that correlated most closely with lower turnover and higher sales. The single most important trait was cognitive ability. While good customer service and sales experience were important, the ability to take information from the customer and immediately solve their problem was the key differentiator and competitive edge. One of the consultants interviewed for the article explained that cognitive ability predicts the capacity to alter the selling style to suit the customers and capitalize on each sales opportunity. In other words, cognitive ability, sometimes called general reasoning and general mental ability, help people connect the dots and learn on their feet.

Like Bon-Ton, many employers are learning the value of pre-employment assessment tests in helping improve performance, productivity, and retention. In fact, spending on assessments of job candidates and existing employees rose about 20 percent last year, according to Workforce Magazine.

Learn more about pre-employment tests – contact us today for a free consultation or demo.


This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.

 

New Report: It Takes 826 Career Site Visitors to Obtain One Hire

Building a high performance workforce these daysrequires a fresh approach. That is especially clear when you consider our daily news is filled with paradox: stories of layoffs, hiring freezes and reduced hours are just as common as the need to find and retain highly skilled talent.

The ability to stay competitive as the economy improves is forcing businesses to look at recruitment differently. But businesses need a workforce that is more qualified, more efficient and more skilled than ever before. Companies will not be able to fill new jobs they create or the jobs they have eliminated over the last few years using old strategies and technology.

10th Annual CareerXroads Source of Hire Report: By the Numbers Survey & Report released last week provides cues for employers ready to change.

One of the most powerful findings revealed that it takes 826 visitors to a company career site to obtain one hire. This excellent Jobs2web slide helps to illustrate that an effective recruitment strategy attracts candidates from a variety of sources including job boards, social media, and search engines.

To compete for talent, employers must now add search engine optimizer to the list of responsibilities for recruiters and human resources professionals. Just last month 101,000,000 global searches on Google for ‘jobs’ last month (Source: Google Keyword Tool. From Davis Advertising, 2011 Second Annual Survey of Job Posting Sites, Chris Taylor). For employers, recruitment is no longer just a human resources function. Getting candidates to find you requires a well-executed internet marketing strategy when writing ads, using social media, and designing a career site.

The report also reported that 57.1 percent of the respondents believed that social media played an important part in their direct sourcing program. Asked to rank the impact of social media on various parts of their recruiting program, respondents said its influence was greatest on direct sourcing, college hiring, and on hiring from job boards.

The most important finding might be that internal movement is the #1 Source of Hire. Yes that’s right – career sites, job boards, and ads on social networking sites may help increase the flow through the talent pipeline but more than half of ALL hires were filled from internal movement. It is the second year in a row that internal movement was attributed to at least 50% of the positions filled.

Referrals contributed the most new candidates when evaluating external sources of hire, following by job boards. Monster and CareerBuilder continue to be the leading suppliers of new hires. Of the responding companies, 88.9 percent reported making at least one hire from Monster; 85.7 percent hired at least one candidate from CareerBuilder.

Based on these results, I offer four recommendations if employers will be successful in their pursuit of skilled workers:

1. Candidates must be recruited from multiple sources including internal candidates, referrals, job boards, and social media.

2. A company career site is more important as a central point of application than a direct source of candidates.

3. An applicant processing system must be considered to facilitate the rapid and accurate screening of applications.

4. Referrals and word of mouth remain the number one source ofexternal hires. Consequently, social networks cannot be ignored; they are a viable and important sources of candidates.

This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.

How Far Have We Fallen If Punctuality and Cleanliness Are Job Training Achievements?

Last month’s gain of 192,000 net new jobs indicated that job creation might finally be on the uptick. The unemployment rate -down to 8.9 percent – has now declined nearly a full percentage point since November 2010, the steepest drop over a three-month span since 1983.

While that’s good news, Elaine Chao, former Secretary of Labor, reminded participants attending the 2011 Human Capital Institute Summit, that we actually need 200,000 net new jobs per month just to keep up with our growing population. (That’s not so bad compared to China, where they need 25 million net new jobs per year just to keep up with their growing population.)

New jobs and a falling unemployment rate, despite what the press and political pundits might have you beleive, aren’t the only things that matters when we look toward an economic recovery.

The labor participation is still quite low. According to Chao, we’re only at 62.4 percent, the lowest it has been in 25 years. Chao describes the reason for the low participation as a general lack of confidence that people currently have around their ability to find new jobs.

Chao also confirmed her belief that American workers still have high education levels and strong skills sets. It’s just that we don’t have enough of these skilled, educated workers to fill jobs in the fastest growth areas – Nanotechnology, Geospacial Technology, Life Sciences, and Healthcare – that will plague employers for years to come.

Up until this point in her presentation, there wasn’t much to argue with – facts are facts.

Then the tide turned for me. It was her example of “one of the few great remaining training grounds” – the fast food industry. I’m not disputing that the industry isn’t doing a good job. But I find it depressing that she felt their efforts warranted such attention because the fast food training curriculum must cover these basics:

  • Punctuality is important.
  • Personal hygiene is important.
  • Anger management/conflict resolution.
  • When this boss tells you something, it isn’t a suggestion!

Is training workers to be punctual and clean something so compelling that a former Secretary of Labor feels it’s worthy of commendation? Has our education and training systems fallen so far that timeliness and cleanliness are significant achievements? When we’re talking about finding a way to ramp up the skills of workers so that we can compete effectively in a changing global marketplace, shouldn’t we be recognizing companies or industries that excel at training workers to think creativity, solve complex problems, manage virtual teams, or deliver outstanding customer service?

The state of our workforce may be improving but if training punctuality and personal hygiene is the best example of good job training we can offer, we will be seriously outmanned in our efforts to compete in a global economy.

This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.