The following article has been written for CXM by bestselling author and Professor of Innovation, Design and Management at the University of Southern Denmark, Alf Rehn
We might call this the tragedy of niceness…
So used are we to thinking of business as a cold, hard space, bereft of emotions and ruled by calculated rationality, that even when issues more aligned with caring and compassion are discussed, they are often presented as marginal concerns.
Consider, for instance, the issue of diversity. A plethora of studies has shown that diversity is a key business driver. Organisations which rate high in diversity, particularly when this includes top management, outperform less diverse companies when it comes to things such as performance and profitability, and in particular when it comes to innovation.
A recent study from the Boston Consulting Group showed that companies with more diverse leadership teams reported almost double the innovation revenues than companies with below-average diversity scores. In today’s highly competitive environment, such figures can literally be the difference between life or death for a company.
That said, diversity is still often discussed as a ‘nice to have’ for an organisation, rather than something of critical and strategic importance. I’ve sometimes referred to this as “the aestheticisation of diversity”, by which I mean that diversity is looked to more for its superficial benefits and less for the manner in which it responds to core business requirements. Coupled with the tendency to frame diversity as an ethical and moral issue, this ends up presenting diversity as a fundamentally nice thing – and this is a problem.
As long as issues such as diversity – and we could easily replace this word with e.g. care, compassion, or civility – are presented as issues that make ethical or aesthetic sense, they will fail to become adopted as core logics in an organisation.
This is not only problematic from the perspective of diversity itself, it actively damages companies. We thus need to push far harder for the point that diversity is done for logical reasons, fully in line with the profit motive companies tend to operate under, if only to ensure that these principles are taken seriously.
In my research into innovation, this has played out in the starkest ways possible. Studies have consistently and for a very long time shown that team and company diversity are some of the most critical deciding factors for creativity and innovation success there are. Further, I have myself seen how organisations that embrace cultural values such as respect and compassion do considerably better when it comes to idea generation and development than organisations that are lacking in these dimensions.
Still, whenever talk turns to the way in which diversity and compassion might be developed in an organisations, CEOs and key executives often treat these as marginal issues. Rather than seeing them as strategic engagements, they are shunted off to HR, or given short shrift by at best being discussed as a possible theme for a workshop some times in the future.
This needs to change, as in an increasingly competitive environment, companies simply cannot afford to lose the cognitive surplus that lies in having diverse and compassionate organisations. Whilst it might sound troubling to some, diversity isn’t only nice, nor is compassion just pleasant. Both deliver where it counts, in creativity, in profit margins, in improved customer relationships.
Squandering such riches isn’t just about being a boor, but about being an incompetent executive. So let the aestheticisation of diversity and compassion take second place to what truly matters – the cold, hard reality that diversity and compassion drives results, generates innovations, and makes companies better. That they’re nice is a lovely added bonus.
Recruitment has never been an easy task, regardless of which industry is facing the challenge.
Difficulties in finding the right people, at the right time, with the right skills, is something all organisations encounter. One such industry is contact centres. Outsourced contact centres are extremely people-focused, meaning that it’s imperative to get the recruitment process right from the offset and meet the challenges faced head-on.
In a contact centre environment, there is a need for recruiters to not only meet seasonal demand, but to be able to find the right person for each position, focusing on retaining employees that are skilled, motivated and committed to the role. A successful contact centre will find, train and retain staff that can meet customer expectations and work to make sure teams have the right attributes to properly represent the organisation they work for.
However, there are numerous outsourced contact centres getting recruitment right, and by following a few simple steps, recruiters can build a successful recruitment strategy that gets it right every time.
Staff on demand
Numerous industries are known to face issues with peaks and troughs of demand, but one that certainly suffers the most is retail. With huge seasonal spikes throughout the year – Black Friday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter – this industry understands what it’s like to see a huge rush of customers that can vanish as quickly as they appear.
To cope with these hectic periods, it’s essential for organisations to be confident that the recruitment channels being used will reach the right people, quickly and effectively. Advertising locally on buses and billboards, for example, can be more targeted and help to enhance brand recognition for an organisation looking to seek local Customer Service Advisors, as an addition to online.
Additionally, contact centre organisations need to prepare for these peaks by working closely with their customers to understand when the demand might rise and fall, and what levels of staff will be needed accordingly. By reflecting on busy periods of the past, recruitment teams can work in harmony with marketing teams to figure out what works, what could change and then put a plan in place for the next peak time.
Talking the talk
Contact centres have undoubtedly evolved. Just look at the name; what was once referred to as a call centre has grown to become much more. The omnichannel world that consumers now live in means they expect to receive the same customer experience, regardless of which channel they use – whether it’s social media, a phone call, email, online chat, or through instant messaging. They expect answers instantly, and they want their queries answered or issues resolved in as few steps as possible.
Because of this, the skill sets required of Customer Service Advisors has also changed. Advisors now need to be proficient in communicating across a variety of channels, utilising strong written and verbal communication skills to make the experience as seamless as possible for the customer. This eclectic way of working means that Advisors need to be flexible, adaptable, and able to multi-task, providing the same, exceptional experience with each customer interaction. A coherent selection process will ensure that recruitment teams are finding the right people for the job.
Capturing brand personality
When it comes to the selection process, this not only needs to be tailored for each job role, but also for each brand – this is the very nature of an outsourced contact centre. Each organisation that is represented by the contact centre will require something different, and this shouldn’t just come through when the Customer Service Advisors are answering queries; it should start at the beginning of the recruitment journey.
Recruitment teams should actively work with the client to build the job description, which should then underpin the selection process. Recruitment strategies should also be tailored for each brand to find the most suitable people; who are the organisation’s target market? How do they communicate? Can brand advocates be chosen to ensure the Customer Service Advisor has a genuine interest in the brand? This ensures the brand’s personality can be captured in each customer interaction, through style, tone of voice and language used.
The recruitment journey
Developing a CX strategy starts with recruitment. With the end customer in mind, a recruitment strategy can be developed that ensures the right team is sourced and trained in line with the organisation’s requirements. Recruitment doesn’t have to be a challenge; a clear understanding of the organisation’s values from the outset is a simple way to get the journey heading in the right direction and, coupled with the right approach to customer service, means that contact centres can commit to delivering an exceptional CX, every time.
New research has shone a light on a potential recruitment crisis which could lead to “failure” for firms.
A study published by recruitment-tech firm, Worksome found that up to a third of new employees are not passing their six-month probationary reviews, while only eight percent of businesses feel new hires have all the skills needed for the job, costing companies thousands of pounds and creating long-lasting negative effects.
The research found that, on average, businesses spend nearly £6459 a year on recruitment and hiring. If a candidate doesn’t work out, not only are these fees lost, but the salary for the probationary period is also wasted. With the average advertised UK salary being £35k, this equates to potentially £17k lost over a six month probation period.
In total, that means that one in every three new hires could be wasting £23k for a business.
The research also revealed that over a quarter of businesses prioritise cost over quality when it comes to recruitment, but 21 percent say they later come to regret that decision. Meanwhile, 32 percent of business owners say recruiters are too pushy, and rush them to make a decision.
According to Mathias Linnemann, co-founder of Worksome, there are many reasons why a business may turn to a recruitment consultant.
“The prospect of saving time can be a major lure especially in a world where it’s essential to fill positions quickly, and promise to deliver a quality of candidate that businesses are otherwise unable to access,” he said.
“For business leaders lacking confidence in recruitment, the promise of quickly supplied talent is enough to make the recruiter’s commission fees seem worth it.
“However, our research demonstrates that the traditional recruiter method of securing talent is simply no longer working. Businesses are clearly feeling that there is lack of knowledge in their business which – in a fast moving world where getting the right skills, at the right times – could be the difference between success and failure.”
Sharing his thoughts on how employers and recruiters can ensure that they don’t fall foul of the failings in the recruitment process, he added: “With a third of candidates not making it past their six-month probationary period, we can see that something is broken in the recruitment and hiring process.
“While our research suggests pain-points relating to the use of recruitment consultants, there is no one single factor to blame. For many businesses, recruitment consultants offer a vital service and so shouldn’t be dismissed, or all tarred with the same brush. If hiring managers can feel more confident about candidates and recruits before they walk through the door, they can take back a level of control and feel more empowered to make the right decisions.”
We all hear CEOs, MDs, and leaders of companies saying that employees are their greatest asset.
Therefore, it makes sense to commit considerable resources into recruitment, training, and development. So, what exactly is the secret to attracting the right people and holding onto them?
Remuneration is an influencing factor, but people are growing increasingly more concerned about the overall benefits package.
Offering an imaginative benefits package, such as wellbeing programmes, will help improve the attractiveness of your organisation. These could include a gym, cyber cafe, incentive schemes (financial and non-financial), flexible benefit schemes, and flexible working schemes.
Getting these benefits out in the market is really important and using your company website is the best opportunity to do this. Make sure you utilise this external mechanism to sell the benefits of working for your company. Showcase to prospective employees the great culture you have. Consider setting up a careers microsite giving you the opportunity to create more positive content.
If you believe in your organisation and the culture, then use your current team to attract new employees by offering a recommend a friend scheme.
For most roles in an organisation you can look to recruit for attitude over skills. I am a real believer that if your employees have the right attitude then you can develop them to be great in their roles. It’s much easier to train skill rather than will.
What is really important is the period between the role being offered and the candidate starting with your organisation. Create an engagement process that makes the new employee feel special. Communicate with them regularly and reconfirm that the decision you and they have made is the right one.
If you are hiring based on attitude, then the key to the success of the new employee is the induction process. Ensure that it is thorough and provides them with the knowledge and skills they need to be competent in the role they have been recruited for.
Once you have recruited the right people, you’ll want to keep them. If you foster a great team culture and keep employees well-informed, involved, engaged, and recognised, then they will perform better, stay longer, and progress further. Develop initiatives that communicate your culture and how you engage with your team.
Regular reviews of performance is an important aspect of retaining team members. It is a way of ensuring that employees and their line managers meet regularly, that recognition is given, and development is discussed. If it is robust and is consistently applied, then your employees will feel that there is a culture of fairness across the business.
Ongoing development is important to people, particularly those that want to progress in the organisation, so ensure you have process for identifying these people.
Making your business a place where people want to work will attract a better calibre of candidate. Looking after your employees will not only improve retention but will also increase productivity; it’s better for them and better for you.