Article Two: Opinion Piece - In Pursuit of Brilliance
Part Two by Dean Gollings

This second article continues with the theme of Quality Control (the first article can be found here). This time the focus is on clients.

Clients can be awkward, frustrating and notoriously unpredictable. Just like candidates. Just like you, me and human beings everywhere. And that’s all they are – human. They are not super-beings with magical powers. They have the same hopes, ambitions, weaknesses and insecurities as everyone else. 

What sort of impression are your consultants giving to clients, compared to your competitors? What sort of impact are they making, compared to your competitors? Are your clients receiving an exceptional level of service from all of your consultants/managers, or does it depend on which consultant they get? Are they order takers or expert advisors? Do they have the knowledge and confidence to enter into a debate with a client? Do they really know what they are talking about? What does the client learn from meeting your consultants that they can’t get from your competitors? Where is your competitive edge?

One of your client service objectives should be that the client regards you as the best firm they dealt with, whether you filled the vacancy or not. This will keep them coming back. It’s no good only being as good as the last job you filled. Client service needs to build a stream of revenue, not just a series of one-off assignments. 

It would take a very long article to describe the long list of free tools, techniques, products and services, over and above great candidates, you could offer your clients. Why not have a team brainstorming session to see what you could come up with? Working smarter means you don’t have to throw a ton of cash at flashy corporate entertaining events in order to take business from competitors who have deeper pockets that you. Simply out-wit them.

The benefits of working smarter and providing exceptional service:-

* More influence and control leading to more jobs filled

* More repeat business

* More exclusives

* More client referrals (how often are you asking?)

* More clients converting to candidates

* More vacancies

* More fees

If the service you provide is no better or no worse than that that provided by your competitors, none of the above will apply to any great extent. You will continue to make the job harder than it needs to be. 

Do you monitor client service? Are clients regularly called and surveyed? Do they then get feedback? What about client meetings? Are they monitored by Managers/Directors? 

Boasting to a client that what makes you special is that you will “only submit details of relevant pre-screened candidates” is not a USP. It’s the very least you should be doing. Even so, there are firms and consultants in the market who consistently fail to meet even those miniscule service objectives.

Clients hear the same old bland corporate waffle every day of the week. Who are they going to be impressed with? You or your competitors? Who has the personal presence and credibility to influence a client? Who is merely a glorified salesman armed with no more than a truckload of objection handling and closing techniques? The best consultants with the best training, tools and techniques operate way beyond that kind of level. 

Why not get some evidence to back up your claims? It can help your cause to provide some hard facts and figures as opposed to clichés about “world –class services” or “robust solutions”.

Bearing in mind what is most important to the client, here are some statements you might like to consider:-

”We have the best candidates”. This is a very powerful claim if you can back it up. Not so long ago I made this statement to a client, going on to say, and prove, that in a straight fight with their 2 current suppliers over the previous 12 months we had filled 19 out of 20 jobs. We got the work.

“Our clients love the work we do. They think we are great.” Find out the % of your clients who, having used you once, come back again. This is a much stronger statistic that the % of your turnover represented by repeat business.

“We are experts at filling vacancies” What is your job fill ratio? The last team I worked with were filling 95% of their contingency perm jobs. That was a powerful testament to our effectiveness.

“Our temps will do a good job and they will fulfil their contracts” Quote the % of contracts completed/extended/go perm.

“We take great care to give you candidates who will be a great fit for your company”. Find out the % of your perm placements that are still with your client after 1/2/3 years. Find out the % who has been promoted.

Tell them about your brilliant after-sales care (Generally not recruitment sector strength).   There are others I could share with you but you get the idea.

At the very least clients will be impressed with the fact that you care enough about your product to measure and monitor its effectiveness.

So the question is could you, should you, be doing more for your clients to set yourself apart from your competitors? Do your clients view you merely as job-fillers, or are you much more important to them than that?

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