Wherever you are right now reading this, I’d like you to take a minute and put on your consumer cap. Forget about your current role—manager, employee, parent, partner, friend—for a few moments and picture yourself in customer mode.
Imagine you’re at your favorite coffee shop (you may actually be there right now). You just parted with some time and money in exchange for a refreshing beverage. Think about the preceding experience: Did you have to wait in line? Was your order fulfilled promptly, and to your liking? Did the service exceed your expectations?
We have many expectations as customers, and with whom we do business depends a whole lot on how well those expectations are met. A satisfying experience means you’re likely to return, and maybe even build a long-term relationship with the company or become an advocate of that brand. A less-than-stellar experience, however, can mark the end of your relationship as fast as it begins.
By the way, you can keep your consumer cap on. Though our little thought exercise has ended, the fact is, we’re almost always in customer mode. That’s especially true today in the workplace. And it’s imperative for companies to realize this, and to start better meeting the needs and expectations of their employees like they do their customers.
Just as that first customer experience can define the relationship, the same holds true for the employee-employer relationship. We’ve all heard adages about the power of first impressions. Companies invest a lot of thought and money into creating and delivering effective advertising. Much like pleasing or offensive ads can steer us toward or away from a company, so too can an application process for job candidates.
Do your job descriptions rival War and Peace? About 40% of Millennials say they won’t spend more than a minute reading a description online. And lest you rush to judge a generation as too impatient, don’t we all believe our time is valuable? Would you wait five minutes for your coffee if it only takes two to brew?
Let’s say your job descriptions are abridged. Good. How about the application process? Do candidates have to enter the same information multiple times, or can they import it from their LinkedIn profiles? Moreover, are those details stored for future access and use?
Consumers love one-click shopping online. It’s fast and convenient. It works for customers and stores alike. Have you ever canceled an order because of a lengthy or frustrating checkout process? It happens in the job market, too. Think of how many potential top performers you may have lost because they gave up long before reaching the “submit” button.
Retailers love providing recommendations, lists generated by clever algorithms. It’s a great way for customers to discover new products. Do you offer recommendations to your candidates? Maybe they applied for one job, but their skill set best fits a job they never even knew existed. Don’t miss out on acquiring a future star just because they were browsing a different department.
Note that this is all before candidates ever walk into your office for their first interview. But these customer-employee parallels extend to every stage of the employee lifecycle, and each is as important as the next. An enjoyable onboarding experience, for instance, can determine whether a new hire sticks around long enough for a review. Almost two-thirds of Millennials say they decide to stay or go after one month. How many bad lattes does it take before you try a new coffee shop?
The answer for providing these great user experiences is comprehensive HR technology that’s designed to meet employee needs and expectations, much like that of a consumer-based solution. Some important features to consider include:
- Integration with popular social media platforms (you can import information from LinkedIn)
- Intuitive user interface (applying for a job is as easy as online ordering)
- Access anytime and anywhere via mobile devices, with responsive design (optimized for use on smartphones, tablets, etc.)
- Collaboration through built-in messaging tools (similar to live chats with customer-service reps)
- Single-click signing for required documents (fast and convenient, like one-click shopping)
- Insight into the status of an application/the hiring process (don’t you just love tracking orders?)
- Personalized experienced based on user information (if you like this job, you may also like…)
When companies think about employees like they do customers, it opens up countless opportunities for improving the employee experience. It creates a positive, productive environment where your people—and your business—thrive. It results in better products for your customers.
So, feel free to keep your consumer cap on for a little while longer.
For additional ideas on this topic check out Russ Banham’s article, “Why Treating Employees Like Customers Is the Right Thing to Do.”