HR People – It’s Time to Lift Your Game!

pretty womanRecently a story appeared on my Facebook feed about SouthWest airlines. I’ve always been a huge fan of Southwest, after reading a book by their CEO Herb Kelleher called “Nuts”. SouthWest have a reputation in the airline industry of “customers first”. That has resulted in my traveling with them, several times, in the US and they’re cheap but great. They make airline travel fun.

While delivering a “cheap as chips” service they have the record of being the only airline in the industry to turn an annual profit. On the lowest prices!

The story on my news feed was about a Southwest pilot who had turned around a SouthWest jet to take back a passenger who found out that her son had been injured in a serious accident. A pilot – and his airline – put a customer’s very serious need first – and were applauded by it by the hundreds of others who were inconvenienced. And that story went viral.

It’s an amazing example of customer service – the importance of which has always been a passion of mine and, just lately, the conversation around WorkibleHQ has all been around this as it extends to candidates.

It’s interesting. There are some industries that we deal heavily in – retail in particular – in which it’s taking some time for companies to realize that their customers are also their candidates.

They go above and beyond and spend millions to ensure that customers have a great experience – but the candidate experience is, let’s put it bluntly, woeful.

We hear about it every day from our jobseekers. Two nights ago, I even saw it on TV. One poor gentleman was applying for his 100th job. His gripe? Not one of them have ever gotten back to him.

And last week I experienced that first hand. My 20 year old son is in the process of trying to find his second job and recently he had 2 interviews. The first was with a company he loves. He made it through the telephone interviews and was asked to come into a “training day”. The proviso was that he wear a plain black (not any other colour) suit. “So you must have the job?”, I said. He said that they hadn’t said that – just that he was invited to a training day. Like most 20 year olds he doesn’t have a basic black suit – he has others, but apparently they wouldn’t do. So $300 later he heads off, groomed to the hilt, to his “training day.”

Two days later, he gets a call. Sorry, you didn’t get the job. What the…..? So now he’s $300 out of pocket, but at least he has a black suit.

Fast forward to three days later and he’s got another interview. He’s one of eight shortllsted for another retail brand he’s very keen about – and is a customer of. He goes for an interview, on Sunday at 10am. At 10.20 I get a message to tell me it went really well, and that he’s really keen and that the young lady says she’ll call him and let him know “this afternoon”. So he sits by the phone. All afternoon.

It’s now Friday and, you guessed it, he hasn’t heard a peep. And I’m guessing neither have the other six who missed out.

How hard would it have been to make eight quick phone calls, especially after she said she would?

What’s interesting about this is that my son is also a customer of these businesses. But now, not a very happy one. In fact, perhaps, as a result of this, he actually might not be a customer anymore.

How many times does this happen? Is this how you would treat a customer? And how long is it before companies recognise the damage they’re doing to their brands before they lift their game.

What would happen if, instead of being ignored, my son got a $5.00 or 5% off coupon or something saying “we’re really sorry you missed out, but here’s something that shows you that we still really value you”. And, yes, it can be done with one automated email.

Yes, I know you’re all busy HR people but, guys, really?

If a national airline can turn around a jet to take care of a customer, is it too much to ask that you could send an automated email? Or make a phone call?

And CEOs, CMOs and CFOs, it’s time that you realized that this behaviour is happening to your customers! And, it’s costing you money – not to mention bad PR across the whispering grapevine, (and let’s not forget those who take it to social media – and we all know how viral that can get!)

I have personally spoken with one company who tells me that 290,000 of their annual applicants miss out on jobs – and get no response. That could be an awful lot of p****d off customers!

Think about that for a minute.

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