There will always be ways to improve how your staffing firm works toward building successful relationships with your clients — and going above and beyond keeps them happy, ensures they invest in your services for years to come, and leads to your continued success.
In fact, a September study released by CareerBuilder reported that the utilization of staffing firms to place talent is at 32 percent, an increase from 26 percent last year.
Although, the utilization of staffing firms is rising, the relationships staffing firms have with clients leave much to be desired. In the same CareerBuilder survey, client satisfaction declined to an unimpressive negative three percent in 2015 — which means, for the first time, there are more client detractors than promoters.
Surprisingly, total sales in the staffing and recruiting industry have increased by 5.8 percent, according to a 2014 report by the American Staffing Association. So we know the business is there, but uncovering where clients are, connecting with them, and keeping them happy can be a challenge.
Implement these eight strategies to improve client relationships and rise above the rest:
1. Streamline your entire recruiting process.
Answering emails, addressing client inquiries, and searching for job candidates in a timely manner can be exhausting. However, maintaining a strong relationship with your clients has been the foundation of your business model since Day One.
Better recruiting comes from better processes. By replacing outdated and inefficient spreadsheets, paper resumes, and hardcopy documents with better equipped technology, your staffing firm will be able to stay connected with clients more efficiently.
Here are three tools that successful staffing firms are already using to help create more effective client relationships:
Customer Relationship Management System (CRM)
A CRM is a tool that can help you regulate how well everyone at your staffing firm communicates with clients, build better relationships, and increase your sales.
By using a CRM, your team can easily respond to clients, collaborate on an account, efficiently share information with clients.
Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
Your staffing firm should be using an ATS to locate applicant records quickly and keep organized during the recruiting process. Your clients want to see results — that’s why they hired you, after all.
Screen out under-qualified applicants by asking pass/fail questions. Create custom pre-screening questions by position. Keep track of applicants through custom work channels. Automatically merge duplicate applicants. Easily compare applicants. All of this can be done with the right ATS.
Social Collaboration Tools
Your clients expect you to stay informed and up-to-date with potential job candidates before their position is ever posted, or before the candidate even knows they’re looking for a new job. Social collaboration tools will help maximize your sales and recruiting process while integrating with your existing social media practices.
For example, you can use a platform that posts directly to social networks — making it simple to connect and share. This allows you to easily set up a posting schedule for social networks ahead of time. When candidates apply, after seeing your job post on social media, this type of platform automatically tracks which employee shared the job and which social network they came from. This feature lets your colleagues to keep up-to-date on important information about companies, candidates, and jobs. It also allows you to share a post others see and can comment on in real-time and, most importantly, store all communications and updates.
2. Create a ‘follow-up’ system.
Sure, you can attempt to make sure your employees always follow up as soon as possible to emails, phone calls, and inquiries from both current and prospective clients. But do you have a system in place to keep up-to-date internally on client communication and accounts?
A few questions to consider:
What do clients need immediately after the initial candidate screening is completed by your team? For example, after working with a client to find job candidates, it would be a good idea to offer a ‘next step’ service that offers screening candidates and conducting video interviews.
What will your clients need three months after working with you? Depending how much you keep in contact with former clients, you may find it difficult to figure out what services they need next.
Creating a follow-up email to thank customers for their business can go a long way. After a position is filled, reach back out to your client by email or phone and ask them for feedback on the overall process.
Perhaps this particular client would like to be less involved in the process than you initially thought. Maybe they are interested in collaborating a bit more during the screening process. The only way you’ll know is to begin the conversation.
3. Optimize for mobile.
If you aren’t optimized for mobile, you’re losing out on sales — not to mention Google ranks mobile-friendly sites higher in search results. If your website takes too long to load, or users have to pinch the screen on their mobile device to read content clearly, you can say goodbye to your visitors.
In fact, in the aforementioned CareerBuilder survey, 57 percent of corporate clients develop a negative perception of a staffing firm if their site is not mobile-ready. Moreover, 73 percent of job candidates will leave a site if it is not mobile-optimized, and one out of five will not return.
So, what can you do to make sure your firm is ‘mobile-friendly’ for your clients and job candidates? Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I need to zoom in to read anything?
- Do external links work?
- Is there an easy way to reach out to a rep?
- Is contact information easy to find?
- Is navigation as simple from my phone as it is from my desktop?
First, decide what needs to be done — from there, prioritize your spending. Depending on the amount of work required and the budget at your disposal, you might need to update in phases. Alternatively, there are plenty of services and web platforms that enable one-touch mobile optimization of any website.
Just as your website should adapt to the size and type of device being used to access it, email design should be equally responsive. In fact, the CareerBuilder survey found 27 percent of corporate clients report they interact with staffing firms via a mobile device. When selecting an email marketing platform, make mobile optimization a priority — there are plenty of options on the market from which to choose.
4. Share success stories.
While potential clients might know they need a staffing firm, they might not be immediately convinced they need your staffing firm. In the earlier survey by CareerBuilder, 18 percent of clients read reviews of staffing firms online before becoming partners. So, solicit client success stories you can share.
Consider creating written case studies or, to be more interactive, see if you can get clients to participate in video testimonials. Your clients will like the ‘free promotion,’ so set up a spot on your website and/or social platforms where they can be featured. Train your recruiters to identify top clients and provide them with the necessary tools to create a polished final product.
5. Respond to client feedback on social media.
Social media has changed the way we receive feedback by enabling users to post, comment, share and chat in real-time. Clients can speak up if your website is down, ask you a question using direct messaging on Facebook and Twitter, and reach out through your website’s contact page.
All of these options mean someone from your staffing firm must be available to respond to this feedback.
When a client writes a review on your company’s Facebook page, respond to it. For example, if a client praises your professionalism and candidate placement accuracy, comment back in a timely manner. You could say something as simple as, “Thank you for being a loyal client. We appreciate your business and look forward to working with you again!”
If the review is a complaint, respond quickly and ask them to contact you directly so you can address the problem. This publicly shows you care and want to resolve the issue but keeps the nitty gritty details of their complaint off your Facebook wall. If you address complaints right away and make a public attempt to rectify the situation, those individuals often come back and update their review.
6. Collect client feedback.
Keep track of all feedback — both positive and negative. Use it in team meetings for praise and recognition, as well as areas to improve. Proactively identify breakdowns in your work process before they become major issues, as well as valuable strategies that are worth implementing across the board with similar clients.
Send out short surveys to clients via email to measure satisfaction over time. Both Google Forms and SurveyMonkey are popular tools that streamline the process.
7. Understand your client’s industry.
It’s better to know a lot about a few industries than a small amount about many. Put in the extra time and effort to educate yourself, and it will pay off in the long-run by helping you land — and retain — valuable clients.
Remember, staffing agencies don’t find jobs for people — they find people for jobs. So, just how well do you know your client’s industry?
Regularly check job postings, and track news and trends in your client’s industry to get a better understanding of the candidates your clients want to hire. For example, what are the top qualifications that IT companies are seeking? What training courses do candidates need to take, and how is this applicable to fulfilling your client’s needs?
Also, have your clients fill out a questionnaire that provides your firm with greater insight into your client’s problems, their successes, and what differentiates them.
8. Adopt efficient collaboration tools.
Developing relationships in the staffing industry is all about being different — different in a way that contributes to your clients’ overall success. One great way to differentiate is by collaborating with clients via video interviewing.
Hiring specific and highly-skilled workers can be a challenge since they are so hard to find. Yet, your staffing firm needs to fill the client’s open positions with the most impressive candidates — as quickly as possible.
Video interviewing gives staffing firms a leg up on the competition by saving both time and resources, while allowing recruiters to serve their clients more effectively and efficiently. Instead of a phone interview with someone who could be all wrong for the job, the one-way video interview in particular allows you to quickly sort through your staffing options.
Additionally, both live recorded and one-way video interviews make it easy to share a shortlist of top candidates with your clients.
Before starting any interview process, determine together the top requirements for the position, then create a selective list of questions to use for your initial screen of candidates.
What relationship-building techniques do you use to improve client relationships?