human contact makes the difference in a world driven by technology

‘Any more questions?’. It seems to be a standard phrase, but these three words mean a world of difference. This concludes Dr. Zanna van der Aa, expert in customer experience, based upon her investigation in customer delight.

‘What we say that we consider being important is not always what subconsciously has the highest impact on our total experience’

‘The human approach is only a differentiating factor if the level of those touch-moments is sufficiently high.’ - Caroline De Roose, Director Customer Experience at Randstad

 

how to satisfy a customer?

You only have taken the steering wheel of the experience that your customers attach to your brand if you have analysed into details the customer journey of your customers and if you have uncovered what customer satisfaction really – and therefore often subconsciously - drives. ‘Because what we say that we consider being important is not always what subconsciously has the highest impact on our total experience,’ Dr. Zanna van der Aa knows.

The Dutch researcher, with over 15 years expertise in customer experience, mapped out the trajectory for Randstad that companies and candidates follow at Randstad. For candidates, this trajectory consists of four steps. One: a candidate reacts to a vacancy and makes contact with Randstad. Two: the candidate is selected and starts his first working day. Three: the trajectory that the candidate follows as employee. Four: the end of the temporary collaboration.

The purpose of the research? Determining what the real drivers of customer satisfaction are. ‘To discover this, we asked candidates questions about the various steps and also about their total brand experience. Was it easy to find out how to register? Did you understand the confirmation that you received after your registration? Did you receive personal attention? Did you have the feeling that you were kept on radar? Etcetera,’ explains Zanna van der Aa.

 

transparency is important

Thanks to the statistical analysis of the results, the researcher now knows exactly what an organisation must focus upon to get the largest possible impact on customer satisfaction. ‘The human approach has an enormous impact on the experience of the customer: being friendly, showing empathy, not seeing people as a file… Transparency as well is important. In the recruitment process, people wish to know why they were selected or why they weren’t. And they also want to be kept informed in which phase their candidacy has arrived at this moment.’

However logical these conclusions may seem your organisation must actually also use them. At Randstad, Caroline De Roose, Director Customer Experience, put this theory into practice. ‘Our target? Make the satisfaction of companies and candidates score over eight on ten. In professional terminology, we then speak of customer delight. There is an emotional side involved in this as well that is for a service provider such as Randstad of course extremely important.’

 

is all this taken over by technology?

The actions taken by Caroline De Roose were simple but targeted, and proved efficient. ‘A first action point for our consultants: after the first interview with a candidate, always ask: “Any more questions?”. During such interview, we overwhelm the candidate with information. Simply probing whether they want any more information has a huge impact on the impression that they retain from that interview.’

A second action point is ensuring, using a well-defined scripting, that each candidate is kept up to date, on the status of his job application. ‘We let the candidate know, via mail or telephone, that we did not forget about his candidacy, but that no decision has been taken yet,’ thus Caroline De Roose. ‘Both actions made customer satisfaction rise significantly. We strive towards continuously improving our score for all our target groups.’

‘These are at the same time two nice examples of how human contact is crucial to make the customer journey as pleasant as possible,’ says Zanna van der Aa. ‘At this moment, when technology is able to take over many processes from humans, this is an important observation.’

 

the human factor makes the difference

Caroline De Roose beliefs in a good equilibrium between the technological and the human approach; although she prefers to phrase “Touch, facilitated by tech”, technology as facilitator for human approach.

‘Some technologies are very visible, but within organisations a lot happens behind the screens that has an indirect impact on customer experience. At Randstad, this is for instance the use of technology that enables us to match candidates faster with the jobs that best fit them. If we help an employer faster, this impacts customer satisfaction.’

Nevertheless, it must be underlined that linking talent to companies remains of course also an emotional activity. ‘That is why for us digitalisation remains fully in function of the human factor. We are convinced that the human contact – the touch – will always exist. The tech serves first of all to support the human factor and to make time for it,’ concludes Caroline De Roose. ‘For me, the human approach is a differentiating factor in a society that is ever more driven by technology. But this means that the level of these touch-moments must be sufficiently high.’

which kind of communication is considered important by candidates?

 

Research by Dr. Zanna van der Aa on the experiences of candidates at Randstad uncovers what for them – subconsciously – are the main triggers for satisfaction. In order of importance:

‘On number one with a bullet we find “the consultant is enthusiast about my solicitation”,’ says Zanna van der Aa. ‘Number two is “I hear fast whether the employer considers me an interesting candidate”, and on three we see “I receive proactive advice about how I can improve my chances for work”.’