HR & Customer Service (Part 2 of 2)

Here is part two of two in the HR & Customer Service mini-series.

Send nice notes.
A friend of mine applied for a job at Nordstrom. She didn’t have much retail experience and wasn’t hired. However, Nordstrom sent a very friendly letter (not an e-mail – even though she applied online) that addressed her by name and wished her the best of luck in the future. My friend continues to shop at and respect Nordstrom.

Another friend of mine applied for a job at a highly respected retail company (for their products, at least) and went through quite the opposite experience. The company called and left a message saying they were interested in interviewing him. He called back and everyone told him to speak to someone else. At one point, someone told him to talk to a person who had a position that didn’t even exist! He called every other day or so to get some updates and at one point, he was transferred to a manager who rudely told him “We’ll call you when we’re interested” and hung up. Keep in mind, the company called my friend and said they were interested in hiring him. It’s a combination of disorganization, lack of communication, and just poor customer service that caused this experience. My friend lost quite a bit of respect he had for that company and doesn’t shop there anymore.

When someone applies for a job, you should send them a nice note thanking them for applying and outlining when they should expect to hear from you. If they are rejected, they should be sent another nice note and wishing them the best of luck in the future. A lot of companies keep resumes on file, and if your company says it will, actually do it.
Have the process written down.

Have operating procedures.
Use operating procedures for the hiring process. Be sure to write them down or they won’t be followed as closely. Outline who deals with what process, what is the timeline for hiring, who is authorized to sign the paperwork, etc. If there are formal operating procedures, there is a far greater chance of the hiring process going smoothly.

One interview at a time.
It seems that more and more, companies are tending to do group interviews instead of individual interviews. I find this to be kind of absurd. Chances are, in a group interview setting, the candidate will not have a chance to explain things like above-average achievements, prior jobs, etc., and the questions will be more general.

Can you imagine if you called customer service and said your computer won’t start up and then they put you into a conference call with 5 other people who said their computer isn’t starting up? The process not only takes much longer, but chances are you won’t get a chance to fully explain your problems.

Make the interview a pleasant experience.
As a HR person, you need to make the interview a pleasant experience. Turn off your cellphone, ask the secretary not to interrupt you with phone calls or messages, make sure your schedule is clear, etc. Be ready on time, dress nicely and look presentable, and be prepared. You ask for the candidate to be all of these things, so you should be as well. Keep in mind, you are representing your company.

Let the candidate talk.
It is important to give the candidate a chance to talk about themselves in a non-structured manner. Ask a general question like “What is your background?” and see what they say. If they are applying for a customer service position, ask questions related to customer service or ask them to expand on things they have said. For example, if the candidate says he or she is interested in volunteering, ask who they volunteer for and how what they have learned/experienced from volunteering that they can apply to a customer service job.

Make sure they have done their homework.
It also important to make sure candidates have done their homework. Ask them “What do you know about our company?” and you’ll get a good idea of how much they care about the position and the job. If they don’t know that much, good chance is they don’t care very much about the position.

Be nice and thank candidates!
As always, be nice to candidates and thank them for their time and effort. Tell them when they will hear from you and what will happen next. Remember, you represent your company and you need to make the interaction with potential employees count.

Tomorrow’s post will cover how company’s media relations departments can better improve their customer service.