In the world of retail, mountains of investment are poured into polishing customer experiences every year. The idea is that if everyone you touch leaves with a positive feeling about your brand, that positive feeling will result in more money spent at the checkout counter. It’s not only logical, it’s been proven to work. A recent McKinsey study claims a 10% improvement in customer experience results in a 10% increase in revenue. And here’s the clincher: in the retail sector, the vast majority of your recruitment candidates are ALSO CUSTOMERS. Just think about that for a second. That means every interaction you’re having with your candidate pool, are also interactions with your customer base. This all boils down to one indisputable fact for recruiters and recruitment marketers:

A great customer experience starts with a great candidate experience. Or put in a more sobering frame, a poor candidate experience is a poor customer experience.

We've all heard about the famous Virgin Media calculation: From 123,000 rejected candidates each year, 6% were cancelling their monthly Virgin Media subscription. That equates to about 7,500 cancellations - about £4.4 million per year. By reframing candidate experience as an opportunity for customer retention (and as it turns out, acquisition), Virgin actually turned those losses into a £9.7Million sales improvement.I mean, that's a good day at the office, right?

This is what turning -4.4M into +9.7M feels like.

We spend a lot of time talking about efficiency in business – breaking down silos, improving cross-department collaboration, making sure all parts of the business are working together to create consistently great offerings, beautiful customer experiences and happy shareholders. This shared outcome – candidate/customer experience – is a great example of that efficiency in action.Recruitment and talent managers are in an awesomely privileged (and powerful) position in this equation. The people you’re talking to every day – whether it’s through job ads and social media posts or screening activities and interviews – are not just the ones who will design and deliver all the parts of your company’s services, they’re also the ones who buy those same products and services. Finding little ways to make engagement with these people smoother and more enjoyable can actually enhance your recruiting process while also making sure the impact you’re having on them as customers is a positive one.

Three ways to polish your candidate/customer crossover

Here are a few practical start points to consider:

  1. Do your top-of-funnel touchpoints complement the in-store experience?
  2. If you had to boil down the feeling customers get when they walk into your stores to one or two key messages, what would they be? For example, at Bunnings, it might be “People go out of their way to be helpful here”. Now think about where candidates have their first interaction with you – your careers site, your social presences or maybe your job ads and initial application form. Are these touch points reinforcing that same message? Bunnings does this really nicely on their career site by including a very clear, step-by-step breakdown of the application process (as well as a super-friendly and simple pre-application quiz).
  3. Do you actually know, for sure, what candidates think of your CX?
  4. Data is fun. But let’s face it, putting numbers around candidate experience can be pretty tricky. In order to justify spending on your CX, you really have to find a way to measure it.  We developed our own WeirdlyNXS feature to do just that. If you’ve got a custom Weirdly pre-screening quiz included in your process, you can automatically collect real, qualifiable data measuring your candidate experience. Alternatively, you can look into adding an existing marketing-style NPS solution to your process.
  5. How do you say no?
  6. 48% of candidates list “waiting to hear back from a potential employer” as their number one pain point. If you’re fielding large volumes of applicants, that’s a helluva lot of people associating  anxious or nervous feelings with your brand. We all know rejection can be hard, but uncertainty is much worse. There are some good ideas in this blog, but ultimately, think about how you’d like to be treated as a start point. Don’t leave applications hanging – no ghosting! Be clear, be prompt, be honest and tactful. And don’t forget the top of the funnel – high volumes mean personalised messages might not be possible, but this is where you can take advantage of automation. We’ve had customers include an automatic “based on your answers, you might not enjoy working here” message if they score below their pre-screening quiz threshold. That’s enough to keep applicants feeling informed and like their time is being respected.

Of course, there’s another bonus to looking at your candidates this way. It means you’ve got ammo for the next budget conversation you have with your CFO. How much resource is marketing allocated for brand sentiment work? What about your customer service department? There's a huge opportunity here for resource sharing, cross-department collaboration, budget re-allocation. However you look at it, the days of recruitment experiences playing second-fiddle to every other touch-point are over.Because really, ultimately, building a beautiful candidate experience is all about your customers.

If your CX could use an extra polish, Weirdly's custom pre-application quizzes might be just what you need to build your employer brand and give every candidate a "wow" experience.