aim for awesome


I was introduced to attracting talent in my first grown up job with a big brand contact centre. The business was going through huge organic growth and we were recruiting faster than the ICO in the run up to GDPR. Back in the day competency-based interviewing was still en vogue and the standard assessment always included a “give me an example of awesome service where you went that little bit extra” catechism. And we got them. Super human responses which overcame adversity and delivered Herculean achievements to frankly impossible timelines in the pursuance of exceeding customer expectations.


Back then most businesses recognised the importance of customer service/experience to differentiate from the competition and retain customer loyalty. Today the marketplace has intensified exponentially so you would assume companies are now following over themselves to attract and retain customers, especially in an age of instant and public feedback. Surprisingly, and rather disappointingly, our expectation of great service appears to have inversely slumped from awesome to, well, kinda average.


When was the last time you received great service? Was it beyond your expectation, or was it just that your barista made your morning Starbucks right first time? Some might even ague that our expectation of some organisations has fallen so low that we now automatically expect them to fail.


It’s not all bad news. More organisations are using trends like design thinking and service design to map customer journeys. This incremental move away from the Me Too approach and towards a personal, tailored user experience is helping create a stronger brand through quality and innovation. Here a great customer interaction is tangible and measurable in terms of engagement and returned business.


Attracting and retaining talent to your organisation is, I would argue, similar to finding and keeping customers. Our HR and resourcing functions spend a huge amount of time and effort building ‘employer brands’ and chasing the elusive ‘employer of choice’ recognition…So why, when it comes to servicing vacancies, do we continually mess it up?


Often is seems like HR go out of their way to make the candidate experience painful. Bland job descriptions posturing as adverts; agonising anonymous application portals; automated responses; delayed feedback; no feedback; poor on-boarding. How many great people are you turning away by habitual mediocre HR practices?


The interaction doesn’t always get better when people join. A lack of positive engagement, communication and personal development too often leads to low employee retention in the same way customers leave a retailer following a poor buying experience. Just to be clear I’m not talking about on-boarding gifts and office spaces with fake grass and ping pong. Remember folks people want autonomy, challenging projects and a visible career path, not bean bags and office dogs.


To get better we need to ditch the ATS and PSL models and move away from a data centric and towards a more human centric approach. Why? Because employees, like customers, are human. Adopting a designed based approach and using tools like service design can help HR functions truly understand the employee perspective, not just what the business assumes it to be.


HR must become a catalyst for disruption and resourcing functions have to place the candidate at the centre of everything they do. Those who service the employee will discover that what people actually want is to make things easier. This flows through the whole experience from application to interview, offer, on-boarding and engagement. By designing processes as services around people HR functions will engage better and ultimately improve their people experience.


There is a dawning realisation that business aren’t really about the businesses themselves and business owners are starting to appreciate that you can’t spend too much time looking inwards if you want to be successful. Businesses are about customers and users. Rather than defining processes and asking people to follow them we need to understand employees, their problems and working with them to explore possible solutions.


forty2 understand this, that’s why we take a design led approach to HR. If you want to tailor your processes around actual candidate experiences give us a shout and we will use service design tools to help you manage people stuff better.


Don’t settle for average - aim for awesome. It’s time for a change…