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By Hayley James, Managing Director
I’m a hopeless romantic, particularly when it comes to reading our weekly P&L and customer leader boards. Gosh I love those numbers…I mean, customers. Until recently, I thought I’d always been hopelessly devoted to my customers (in our context, clients and candidates), completely lovesick in fact. However when I had a senior and long standing client and candidate of mine, someone I had known very well for many years and placed several times over in their career, tell me that our industry was failing people, I was unsurprised. “I know”, I said in complete agreement. When they looked at me in a slightly awkward way suggesting that I needed to dig deeper, I stated “Clearly present company excluded?”. “Well actually, no – even you guys have got some work to do”. Horrified. Mortified. Defensive. “Really?…ok talk to me”.
For context, my much loved and respected client went on to say that even though our business has built its reputation on subject matter expertise and long standing invested partnerships, our ability to maintain authentic candidate experiences at every touch point of our delivery, holds the key to sustainable and smart business. Not rocket science, we know this – we in fact talk about it with our teams constantly. We pride ourselves on being leaders in our market – trail blazers in an industry that is largely about letting people down, redirecting their expectations and managing sensitive decisions about their careers and life. And of course recognizing, rewarding and celebrating the leaders who get their plum job. But we’re not doing enough – not any more. We need to redesign our thinking and reprioritise our efforts.
The pressure now to communicate individually, authentically and attentively, to all of our customers has never been so complex. If I invest in one, am I cheating another? Surely not – as a child of the mid-70’s where free love was still flowing, I believe there’s plenty to go around, in a professional context of course.
Gone are the days where good customer service is enough. Where a compelling product and price proposition seemed to satisfy. Where regular, not too regular but regular enough communication would suffice. Where delighting our customers with the consumption of their purchases would make them refer of us. It’s not enough, it’s never enough. So today, how do we fall endlessly, hopelessly and madly in love with our customers, for eternity?
I’m exhausted just thinking about it. But alas, there is this thing called digital technology (and its million other variations) that enables us to reach, engage and talk to our customers, whether 1 or 1 million, every minute of every day should they wish.
User experience design and customer experience is the way forward – the only way forward but we need to be committed. We want our customers to fall in love with us as soon as they come into contact, regardless of the channel. In our job, it’s actually easy. We just need to listen. Really listen. When people feel heard, particularly about an issue that bares significant life implications, they feel hope, trust and confidence. Once heard, they need to be engaged, regularly. They need to be made to feel they are a priority, that we continue to understand and care. This is the stuff that simple relationships are built upon. Add to this aligned values, vision, loyalty and empathy and we’re practically married. So the question remains – how do we do more of this, more of the time for more of the people?
Marketers? Communicators? Technologists? UX/CX experts? Time to turn ourselves into medicos, love doctors. It’s the only way forward. People want to be loved the world over so let’s not just create more channels and design greater interactions, let’s truly love them through committed, digestible, personalized engagement that holds value to each and every one of them.
Happy Q4 partners…with love.
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