Amid all the daily news reports of businesses shirking their responsibilities, ignoring ‘customer first’ rhetoric and causing untold financial and personal stress to clients and staff, once in a while a business and its employees really stands out, and stands by its customers.
This was the case for me last month with insurance company CGU.
I received advice about not spending an extra sizeable outlay for a situation. A week later, I called to ask the specifics of my issue and was told I was given incorrect information, which meant I would be up for that extra sizeable outlay.
Naturally I was not happy, as the circumstances were quite stressful. In the majority of cases, businesses will stick their head in the sand, refuse to make good, and give an insincere 'Sorry you were given the wrong advice but we cannot do anything' through gritted teeth.
On this day, however, I struck moral and commercial gold. The customer service employee took a higher stance, went to his manager and they both took the time to listen to the original call and responded with 'We WILL stand by what you were told and we are so sorry for the trouble'. This cost them $2,000 but they honoured their original advice and they could have easily not done so. Bravo!
As a result, they now have a raving fan who cannot stop sharing the story. What awesome PR was created by their moral and commercial compass. Was it the specific managers I had on the day who did what they did?
On reflection, I think most managers don’t have the courage to stand by their customers and staff. Fear and the unwillingness to admit they made a mistake and offer restitution are often the key reasons.
Humanising workplaces and customer service starts with building a culture of an easy willingness to accept that mistakes can and do happen, but it's how they are handled that matters more.
We all know the power of PR and customer referrals to build businesses, but what impact does doing the right thing, admitting mistakes and honouring advice have on hiring and recruitment? A great deal.
Hiring companies, HR managers and recruiters must think of every candidate as a ‘customer’ first and foremost, and from that platform be willing to say 'I’m sorry, I made a mistake. The job is no longer available', 'I’m sorry we didn’t treat you well in this process', 'I’m sorry we advised you incorrectly about the salary but we will honour what we said', 'I'm sorry, I shouldn't have sent your CV without your permission', 'I'm sorry I didn't do a thorough reference check'. The list is long and needs those ‘ah-ha!’ reflections to check in and change.
If businesses are truly serious about attracting great new staff and building their brand as an employer of choice, they must stamp out back-pedalling, covering up their hiring mistakes, and misinformation, and instead be human.
The benefits are enormous: candidates will become raving fans, refer others to the recruiter or hiring company and be more likely to refer and buy from you.
Sue Parker is the founder of recruitment services business DARE Group.