Customer Love

I’m showing my age, but years ago Recruiters showed love to customers with free lunches, happy hours, and gifts.   Today, the free lunches and cocktails have scaled way back, and there are very few gifts I could buy customers that they actually need.   Some companies, including the Federal Government, virtually banned vendor gift-giving.    Most of my customers are embarrassed if I buy them gifts.  

In the 2020 economy, CEOs more than ever just want peace of mind.  Warriors doubled our top-line revenue in the last 4 years by digging deeper and wider in our existing accounts.  We identified more ways to help existing customers and turned our strong performance into solid references.  To be fair, we’ve made our mistakes, too.  Below I highlight five actions that will keep your customers happy and prevent them from looking elsewhere for recruiting services.

  1. Skip the Gifts, Invest in your Recruiters. That’s right.  Focus on your most valuable customers – your own people.   I had a CEO pull me aside into a conference room last year and ask me, “Steve, am I getting your best Recruiters for my searches? I will pay more, but we want your top guys on our stuff.”  His question led to more questions internally for us.  I want all my Recruiters to be great.   The Warriors stamp is our NFL Shield.   A Recruiter working for Warriors IS our best, right?  But, is that even possible?   We decided to spend more time and money on training our team.  It’s hard to say you love your customers when you aren’t investing in your own people who take care of those customers.  Skip the gifts and cocktails, over-invest in your own team.  And, make sure your clients know you’re doing this.  Don’t forget who got you to this point.
  2. Call them.  I once had a customer who only gave me a job order every 3 months.   I called him every Wednesday at 8am - just to say hello.  This client was small but used us exclusively.  He reviewed every resume within hours and responded instantly with feedback.   We filled his jobs for $10k, not a lot in Executive Search but not insignificant either.   I’m not sure he gave me the business because I called him every week or because we did great work for him. But, I called him whether I had a job order or not. I didn’t email him, text him, or hit him up on LinkedIn – I called him.  I think he liked that.  Sometimes, we forget how our customers came to be our customers – they liked us and enjoyed talking to us.
  3. Produce. Period.   It’s no secret in the recruiting business: if you do not produce (and produce quickly) customers go elsewhere.  Dozens of vendors are calling your clients every week to steal them from you. Since we are talking about “Customer Love”, I honestly cannot think of a greater form of love in 2020 to provide to our customers than actually filling a job with a quality candidate.  Doing this repeatedly is often the greatest gift your clients could receive.    Skip the client golf, put a few extra hours in this week to make sure your team has fully qualified job descriptions and sufficient activity on your jobs.  Give your clients the value you promised them.   Best gift your can give your client!  
  4. Immediately…Call your customer out on Impossible Searches. You know the industry better than your customer.   So, when they ask you to find them a Sr Software Engineer with a TS/SCI full-scope polygraph clearance available tomorrow for 70% of market rate, tell them you cannot deliver.   I encourage my Account Managers to say, quickly, to each hiring manager, “We can’t find this person.  Nobody can deliver that candidate, because she doesn’t exist.”  People appreciate the truth.  It’s certainly better than sending your Recruiters on a wild goose chase for a week, and THEN telling your customer the candidate doesn’t exist.   Not only have you lost a week of time, but your own team will be skeptical of the next search request from that client.
  5. Please and Thank you. Mom would be proud of this one.  Use words like “Please” and “Yes, sir” when talking to customers.   Be nice when you talk to and about your customers.   Thank them for their business regularly.   Send them Thank you cards, handwritten NOT emailed, for no other reason than telling them you enjoy doing business with talented, nice people.  I’ve done this, and I’ve seen my Thank You letters sitting on CEO’s desks when I visit their office.  

Companies in 2020 all share a similar challenge – finding great people to grow the business. Figure out how to find great people for your clients.  This is the love they really want.

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