How to Leverage Real-Time Reviews to Fuel Growth for Your Staffing Firm
Let’s face it: We live in a world where we are under review in almost every aspect of our lives, be it personal, professional, or even the business that we run. The world reviews and offers feedback, many times in a very public forum. Since no one is exempt from the feedback, it just works in our favor to embrace it: learn from the constructive feedback offered and turn positive feedback into social proof to bolster our staffing firm’s reputation.
That was the message from Adam Conrad, founder and CXO of Great Recruiters during a recent TechServe Alliance webinar. Adam shared his strategy for using candidate and client feedback as a tool to strengthen and grow staffing companies.
To do so requires a shift in mindset, thinking about and approaching feedback proactively rather than reactively. Instead of hiding from feedback, seek it. Not only will you learn and improve, but also you will take control of your reputation management versus hoping your company’s reputation is positive.
The key? Using the feedback you receive from reviews.
Simply put, reviews are here to stay. According to Conrad, 91% of people read reviews before making a buying decision, and 87% trust them just as much as a friend’s recommendation. There’s a risk for companies who don’t solicit reviews proactively, however, leaving them to chance: negative reviews are far more likely to accumulate than positive ones. While 72% of people are likely to leave a review after a bad experience, only 10% of people will do so after a good experience.
This is especially important in the staffing sector. There’s a need to build trust, because sadly, negative perceptions of the industry persist. Conrad points to Google search suggestions about recruiters, noting that although ‘high demand’ and ‘the face of the company’ indicate the staffing industry’s pivotal role, there are also perceptions of recruiters as pushy, annoying, and ‘shady’.
Matt Dickens, Director with Astute Technical Recruitment, agrees. “There’s such a broad spectrum in recruitment – everything from the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ to professional consulting,” Dickens says. “It bothers me that when you ask people about recruiters, they tend to think of the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ type.”
Reviews help to build trust in an industry that needs it.
How Feedback Helps
There are three primary ways that gathering real-time feedback through reviews can help grow your business.
1. Reputation Management
Benjamin Franklin said, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’, and this couldn’t be more true than when it comes to protecting your company’s reputation.
In this day and age, with numerous ratings sites online and with social media amplifying every statement (accurate or otherwise), one person’s story about a bad experience can go further and faster than ever before. Protecting a reputation is far easier – and far less costly – than fixing one that has been damaged or tarnished.
Steve Gaura, Vice President of Business Operations with Blue Chip Talent, relates a situation that nobody in staffing wants. “I saw someone online taking a staffing company, one of my competitors, to task. Naming recruiters, naming account managers, and suddenly it caught wind.” Proactively seeking feedback allows a company to ‘capture’ any negative perceptions before they make their way to other platforms.
2. Training and Skill Development
Every staffing company wants their employees to be the best they can be. By gathering feedback that is specific to the individual, and to specific points in the process, managers can monitor their employees’ performance. They can praise and recognize excellent performance, and also – where the feedback indicates that some improvement is required – managers can provide guidance and training specific to those developmental needs.
Training needs can be customized by changing the way feedback is gathered, depending on the employee. “We use a different survey for rookie recruiters, one that asks different questions,” Gaura says. “They’re not going to be as skilled or be as much of an advisor, but we want to know, did they follow the process?”
3. Marketing and Promotion
People look to reviews to help them make decisions about companies to work with and buy from. Sharing your positive reviews and ratings can help bring new candidates and clients to your staffing company’s door. The difference has been significant for Blue Chip Talent. “After we started collecting and using reviews, our referral rate is 30% higher than the industry average,” Gaura reports.
If using feedback from reviews can be that beneficial, why isn’t every company taking advantage? Conrad lists a few common reasons. Many leaders in staffing are too busy to make it a focus. Some don’t know where to start, or are tracking measures like the Net Promoter Score (NPS), and don’t know what to do with the information. As with anything in business, consistency is key. To make it work for your company, you need a system.
The CAMP Framework
Conrad’s CAMP Framework consists of four elements: Capture, Act On, Measure, and Promote.
When it comes to gathering feedback, Conrad says, consistency is key. Don’t ‘cherry pick’ by just looking for positive stories, asking for feedback only when the candidate is likely to be satisfied. Instead, ask at meaningful moments throughout the process. Conrad recommends asking candidates at the point they’re submitted to a client; they’re far enough into the process to have an informed opinion, and not biased by a positive or negative outcome (e.g. rejection by the client, or placed).
In addition to the specific proactive requests for feedback, you can also keep an open door, inviting feedback at any time, for example, via a link in email signatures. “It’s a great reminder to put your best foot forward even on your first day,” Conrad says.
○ Act On
Whatever system you use to gather feedback, it has to get information to the people who need it, as quickly as possible. This allows you to respond in real time.
If the feedback is positive, acknowledge it. Share it across the organization, and use it as positive reinforcement for great performance. Thanking the person who provided the feedback can also help to solidify the relationship, too.
In the case of negative feedback, it’s perhaps even more important to respond promptly. “There’s nothing worse than asking for feedback, someone having a problem and never hearing back,” Conrad warns. “That’s doubling down on a negative experience.”
When you do follow up, first seek to understand what actually happened. “A lot of the time it’s just a simple misunderstanding,” Gaura points out, “the candidate may be upset because the recruiter didn’t have a job for them.” Sometimes, a dissatisfied customer just wants to be heard, and Gaura reports that hearing back from someone in a leadership role defuses the situation.
In cases where the experience does represent an opportunity for improvement, coaching can be delivered right when it’s needed, to ensure that the employee has the chance to correct their mistakes. “We use call recordings to get to the facts of what happened, to first figure out if it was a fair assessment, which it isn’t always,” Dickens says. “Feedback is never about chewing people out, we use it as a platform to move that person forward.”
In addition to the immediate action you take, consistently capturing feedback also gives you the ability to monitor trends over time. Use your feedback system to consolidate your data so you can measure results to the level of an office location, a department, an individual. Look at the data each week. “Inspect what you expect”, says Conrad. Monitor trends over time, as these will show you where improvement is needed. You can then use those insights to design exactly the training plans your employees need.
When you’ve earned praise, you’ve also earned the right to share it! Conrad advises sharing testimonials and review scores on social media and your company website. You can include it in sales material, and in your candidate outreach as well.
Don’t overlook the value of using this feedback internally, as well. Positive reviews and testimonials serve as excellent reinforcement for good performance, and as inspiration and motivation for the whole team.
Conrad is passionate about the staffing industry. “I want this industry to be better, stronger. I want people who are the future of this industry to have the tools to evolve.” Recruiting is a people business, of course. “Everybody’s website says it,” Conrad says. “But not everybody does it.”
If you’re not proactively seeking out and using real-time feedback, you can use Conrad’s CAMP Framework to begin. Put the systems in place to capture, act on, monitor, and promote this valuable feedback.
If you want to know more, you can view the entire webinar recording here, and don’t miss the special offer from Great Recruiters at the end.