Raising the Bar: Ensuring Service Consistency in Staffing

ThinkstockPhotos-454150515What’s on your list of 2015 business objectives? Winning new clients? Expanding into new markets? Increasing client and candidate retention?

What about “ensuring service excellence“?

No matter how you’re trying to grow, improve or change your business, delivering consistent customer service is essential to achieving your goals. And if you’re not measuring every part of your service delivery – in a variety of ways – you’re missing opportunities to:

  • Learn what your staffing agency is doing well, and what it needs to improve.
  • Better understand your customers wants, needs, expectations and values.
  • Build your employment brand and industry reputation, to attract top clients and candidates.

If it’s time for your agency to improve its service consistency, here are three ways to raise the bar:

1. Know what you need to know. In other words, measure the right things! If you’re only gauging service levels based on the number of complaints you receive, broaden your measurement to include these key metrics:

  • Response time. The amount of time it takes you to respond to inquiries or orders (exceptionally important for last-minute staffing needs).
  • First-call resolution. The percent of complaint calls you’re able to resolve completely, the first time a client or candidate contacts you. The amount of effort it takes a customer to resolve an issue directly affects loyalty. Research from CEB, the world’s leading member-based advisory company, shows that 96% of customers who rate experiences as “high-effort” become more disloyal.
  • Customer retention rate. The percent of your client base/candidate base you retain, year over year. In addition to tracking the percentage, try to find out the reasons customers leave you. Remember, it’s much easier (and more profitable) to keep great customers than to find new ones.
  • Time with customer. The amount of time sales reps spend on the phone or on site with customers. People do business with people; quality “face time” allows your team to address clients’ top recruiting and workforce challenges.

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2. Create a system of “checks and balances.” Develop and implement processes to improve service delivery:

  • Triage service issues. Your customer service resources are limited; it makes sense to give the most serious and urgent problems attention first. Make a list of the types of requests and issues you experience most frequently (large and small, simple and complex), and then categorize issues based on the resources required to address them. Develop a system of response plans to address issues strategically and systematically. While every staffing issue is unique, triage can help you accurately prioritize customer needs and increase service consistency.
  • Share service delivery statistics. As you collect customer service data, share and learn from it. Post key performance indicators prominently in your office or on your intranet. Celebrate and replicate what you’re doing well; brainstorm ways to improve.
  • Tie service to compensation. Incorporate customer service metrics in your performance reviews. Moving forward, help employees add “SMART” customer service goals to their quarterly and annual objectives. When individual compensation is linked to service consistency, company goals are more likely to be met.

3. Use a variety of tools. Gather service feedback, both internally and externally:

  • Client and candidate surveys. Surveys are excellent tools for gauging service levels, understanding customers’ needs, uncovering unresolved service issues and identifying new business opportunities. Here are a few tips to gather objective feedback and increase response rates:
  • Ask your most important questions first. They’re the most likely to be answered.
  • Keep it short. Make it fun. Limit frequency. Customer service surveys are everywhere. If yours is engaging and brief, more people will respond.
  • Solicit both positive and negative feedback. Use neutral language and offer opportunities for open-ended responses.
  • Share results. Customers will be much more likely to respond if they believe their responses will truly make a difference. Share your findings with all respondents and follow-up individually with anyone who reports an unresolved service issue.

External measurements
Inavero measures and recognizes service excellence within the staffing industry, administering more staffing agency client and talent satisfaction surveys than any other firm in the world. Their Best of Staffing Award, presented in partnership with CareerBuilder, provides the only statistically valid and objective service quality benchmarks in our industry.


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Tammi Heaton

Tammi Heaton
Tammi Heaton is COO of PrideStaff. She can be reached at theaton (at) pridestaff (dot) com.

Tammi Heaton

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