In many ways, effective communication represents both the greatest opportunity and the greatest challenge in staffing. As an industry built on relationships and connections, communicating efficiently and effectively is often what separates the best firms from the rest.
What does good communication look like? The answer to this question has changed over the years, mainly due to technology, which has transformed the communication expectations of candidates and clients alike.
Let’s take a closer look at communication in modern staffing and recruiting: what ‘good’ communication now means, and how it can open up endless opportunities for your organization.
In-person dealings put to one side, two communication channels have ruled the staffing roost over the last couple of decades: phone and email. But should they? The numbers say no.
Email open rates in staffing sit at approximately 20%. The typical response rate for email is 3%-5%. On the rare occasion that someone does respond, it takes them an average of an hour and a half.
Phone calls can be more efficient and effective, sure. But with caller ID allowing people to screen any unknown numbers – and many of us in the habit of even screening calls from loved ones – this is becoming an increasingly inefficient option. What’s more, phone calls are interruptive; when you think about it, calling someone is like shouting “talk to me!” over and over again until they give in.
All in all, phone and email represent quite inefficient and inconvenient ways to get people into jobs. But the staffing industry has a third and often overlooked option: SMS.
SMS open rates are as high as 98%. Response rates hover around 40% – over 8x that of email. The average response time is 90 seconds, 60x faster than email. But this is a more casual medium than the phone call, because recipients can respond in their own time.
Serial entrepreneur Andrew Kimmell was well aware of these facts when he pivoted his VIP texting service TextUs to the staffing industry, allowing any firm to use their main 10-digit number as an SMS line.
“Messaging is fundamental to life these days – it’s the only notification I have turned on. We realized that real-time messaging is a megatrend, and text messaging was a part of that. It allows you to operate in a better and faster way than you can with a phone call or an email.”
Real time is about being in front of the candidate at the right time, and being able to respond at the right time: now. It goes beyond simple SMS, encapsulating things like social DMs and live chat on your website. Having moved on from TextUs, Kimmell’s latest project, Staffing Engine, aims to help staffing firms to deliver real-time messaging across all real-time messaging channels.
And despite what you might have heard, great communication may not even require a human touch.
A potential candidate, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, arrives at your site. They’re casually browsing, trying to get a sense of whether or not they want to work with you. Impressed by what they see, but wanting a little more information, they consider engaging.
Your phone number is there, but like a large chunk of the population, this customer doesn’t want to take the risk of speaking to a pushy salesperson. There’s a contact form, but it requires seven fields to be filled out, and that labor aside, the visitor fears being put on yet another mailing list.
But then, in the corner of the screen, the visitor notices a chatbot. Simple and intuitive, it can answer basic FAQs, and collect information from the prospect in a subtle way. It offers to help, it asks a couple of brief qualifying questions, then sends the prospect to the relevant page, offering up pricing, or prompting them to book a call with a recruiter.
A chatbot or any other form of automated messaging can speed up the prospecting process immensely, as well as making it far more efficient and scalable. And when someone needs a human, they get a human.
“But we’re a white glove, high touch service!” comes the predictable reply. The truth? If you aren’t capitalizing on automated messaging, you’re not particularly high touch at all.
Domino’s: now there’s a high-touch service. You know exactly when your pizza is being made, when it’s in the oven, when it’s in the car, and when it’s at your door. You’ll also notice that the entire service is automated. Humans cook and deliver the pizza, sure, but the task of cooking up and delivering updates is left to bots, who do an amazing job.
If you truly want to be a high-touch, white-glove staffing firm, you should be using automation to increase transparency, while also having a human on hand to add value or take over whenever necessary. Nothing is taken away with automated communication. All it does is add to the experience.
Which brings us neatly to our next point: is your website providing the best experience possible?
Your website should be designed as a lead generation machine. Function must be the primary focus – you can make it pretty once it provides the user experience that it needs to. There’s also a risk of going too far the other way, and putting too much of a focus on lead generation, to the detriment of the UX. An example: the modern modal pop-up.
David Cancel, the CEO of Drift, a B2B revenue acceleration platform, describes modern website pop-ups in the following terms: Imagine walking into a store and having someone run up to you with a clipboard, asking you questions about becoming a member. “It looks like you have a cool range of products,” you might reply, “but can I at least look at them first?”
That’s what modal website pop-ups are turning into. They’re used far too often and far too early to be effective. They’re becoming the annoying salesperson that won’t leave you alone.
Staffing firms also face a unique challenge in the fact that clients and candidates have completely different wants, needs, and expectations from their visit to your website. Clients often represent quite casual visitors who are simply looking to gain a sense of what your company is about. Candidates tend to bring more urgency because they’re out of work and hunting for their next job. A modal pop-up doesn’t offer the customized experience that these unique visitors are looking for.
A chatbot can.
A bot is not the pushy salesperson, but the friendly and accommodating greeter. “Hey, I’m here to help, let me know if you need anything!” Depending on what the visitor types, the bot can direct them where they need to be, and customize the experience to suit.
Bots can be extremely useful in bulk staffing situations, capable of screening large amounts of entry-level candidates at any moment in time. But they can be helpful to white glove firms and consultancies too. These organizations can use a bot as an extension of their brand, giving it a name and a personality. It becomes a personification of your brand, a mascot; one that doesn’t convert sophisticated and high-end candidates, so much as charm them.
There was a time, long ago, when things were more static, and price and location were a business’s main differentiators. As innovation began to accelerate, the product that you sold began to become the main point of difference. But today, as businesses across industries are being forced to compete on a global scale, the experience you deliver to your clients and candidates has become your major differentiator.
Put simply, the greatest rewards now go to the firms that drive the greatest experiences. And there are no two ways about it; in this day and age, automation is key to delivering communication to the levels and with the personalization that your candidates and clients expect. Check out episode 31 of the You Own the Experience Podcast to learn more.