Delighting customers for the long-term

How much more enjoyable is work when you love dealing with all your stakeholders; colleagues, clients and suppliers. Surely the world is a much better, fun and fulfilling place when you enjoy what you do and who you’re dealing with.

The problem, particularly within the recruitment industry, is that for decades clients have been swamped with transactional services that provide quick pain relief but perhaps not for the long term! This has created a culture and a big broad brush assumption that all recruitment consultancies are the same and only focus on short term wins. There is nothing more demoralising than when the first question a potential client asks is “how much do you charge?” Even before they understand how we will solve their problem and improve their performance.

Customer service is a major differentiator for consultancy businesses like ours and when you are delighting customers it really is a win - win! Firstly, clients are happy which makes day to day interactions pleasurable but it also allows you the ability to work with a select number of clients, secure in the knowledge that you won’t need to replace disappointed clients with new ones.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve not always succeeded, we have worked with companies that we “haven’t gelled with” and who “haven’t got” us but in the main, we are passionate and proud about the client portfolio we’ve built - many of whom we’ve partnered with for over 10 years. Also by investing in long-term partnerships and constantly improving our knowledge about our clients, their business strategy, culture etc, it is far easier to act as a true advisor, adding value as a strategic partner.

How have we achieved this? Firstly, we've invested time to understand what customers value in a partnership, what ‘pain points’ do they need alleviating and what immediate and long-term outcomes do they want to achieve? Then using market insights, robust data and our experience we develop bespoke strategies that work and achieve this success.

One outcome of our partnership research has been the development of our ‘client/candidate journey’ - our customer service modus operandi.  In short customer service lies at the heart of everything we do at Collingwood and by the customer, we mean candidates too – they are just as important to our success.

The hard part of recruitment is ensuring that the chosen candidate delivers as expected and that the client delivers on the promises they made during the recruitment process. To support these early days of a new appointment we now have a holistic career transition service supported by our search and leadership experts to help our clients and candidates ensure the relationship flourishes not fails.

Additionally, our robust customer services process provides a consistent approach, no matter which consultant you work with and therefore we are able to constantly benchmark what is working and what needs improving. Clients also know what to expect but they have the flexibility to refine our process to better suit their needs, giving transparency and clear expectations of what we will deliver for them. The process lives on the feedback we gain from every assignment to ensure we are constantly improving.

And the results have been fantastic for all concerned;

  1. We have increased the number of assignments delivered right first time from 77% to 100% and we have achieved 100% consistently for the last 2 years.
  2. Our level of repeat clients as a percentage of overall clients is 75% with many partnerships now over 10 years (bear in mind we are a growing consultancy winning a lot of new business).
  3. Clients approach us as advisors, trusting our views, judgement and expertise to help find solutions and develop their business strategies.
  4. Our strategic leadership transition services ensure that any hires we make integrate effectively.
  5. Our clients now make decisions based on reliable data, they understand the landscape of their industry and can invest in people who will add real value to their business.
  6. Our consultants have a documented process to help them achieve excellence and a great customer experience.

Ultimately by putting our customers at the heart of everything we do, we have created a value adding consultative approach that not only adds value to all our stakeholders but is also a reason to jump out of bed on a cold, wet and windy Monday morning for!

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