3 Important Lessons on the Candidate Experience from American Express

As a marketer, I’ve always been fascinated by the customer service experiences that I have as a consumer and the different methods used by companies to communicate with customers.  I’ve had bad experiences and great ones and it was a very good experience yesterday that I would like to share as it provides some insight into how we can improve our candidate experience.

A little background. I’m traveling around Europe for the first two weeks in August and as such, I’ve been preparing for the trip over the last month getting a new passport and completing other important tasks.  One of my to-dos was to alert my bank and credit cards of my trip so they don’t freeze my account thinking someone stole my card and is gallivanting across Europe.

I was able to set up a travel alert easily online for Bank of America but didn’t see an option to do so with my American Express credit card.  And as such I decided to use Twitter to see how this was done. 

So I wrote the tweet below:

Here was the response from Lisa at American Express, which occurred within an hour of my initial tweet:

It’s a great response right!!!? Not only does it answer my question but it provides more information that could prove valuable for my trip.  Overall, as a consumer, it was a great experience and one that I’ll remember as I continue my relationship with American Express.

But how does this tie in to the candidate experience and what we can do to better engage with candidates for our career opportunities?

3 Drivers of a Great Candidate Experience

The experience above is what we have come to expect from customer service organizations and when we don’t receive it, our perception of that company is greatly diminished.  Slowly but surely this is becoming the case for the candidate experience.  But the bar is lower, leaving much more room to improve and meet candidate expectations.

So as we improve our candidate experience what should we take from American Express’s customer service team?  Here are a few important trends:

Response Time in Minutes or Hours Not Days: When a candidate asks a question, how do you measure your response time? Is it in minutes and hours or in days? Customer service organizations today focus on getting back as soon as possible to customers and the better we can do that from a recruitment marketing perspective, the better our experience will be perceived.

That is to assume that you advertise channels on your Career Site for candidates to ask questions about your process whether it’s via email, online chat or social media.  In each case, it’s integral that you consistently monitor and respond in real-time to these inquiries.

The goal should be to get back in the first hour as I saw when reaching out to American Express.

Provide Value Add Information: The first goal of any response to a candidate is to ensure you answer their question in full. If you don’t do that then you risk alienating the candidate.

But there’s a greater marketing opportunity here as well. Any question from a candidate provides a chance to provide extra value to the candidate.  Whether it’s pointing to employee stories and videos, social channels to follow and/or your Career Site where you provide information on your hiring process.

As you saw in the tweets, Lisa pointed out benefits I receive as a member of American Express that I was not aware of. And while I may not use them, it’s good to know they are there should I need them.

Make Personal: Whether your communications are automated through technology or responses from team members, always make sure to make them as personal as possible. Always remember that while we as an industry can think about recruiting in transactional terms at times, to the candidate it’s a very personal experience. The more candidates feel like they are dealing with real people, the better their experience will be.

I really like how American Express has their customer service reps put their name at the end of the Twitter responses is a great touch. Thanks Lisa for your help!

The Bar for Candidate Experience is Getting Higher

Candidate perception and expectations for finding and applying for jobs is still relatively low but is raising every day. And organizations are already starting to improve the level of service they provide in the process with IM Chat, better messaging and expectation setting on their Career Site, social recruiting and more streamlined apply processes. But we aren’t quite there yet as an industry and it represents one of the better opportunities out there to stand out as an organization to qualified candidates looking to further their careers.

Those interested in improving the candidate experience should check out The Candidate Experience Awards.  You can also find more posts on the candidate experience at the SmashFly Blog.

Views: 261

Tags: Corporate Recruiting, candidate, experience

Comment by Matt Charney on July 22, 2014 at 9:32am

Chris - awesome post as always. Some day, you're going to have to tell me how you crank out so much content while always remaining on point with your topic and fresh in your perspective. I'm totally jealous - and appreciative of all your contributions to the conversation on these important industry topics. Keep on keeping on, my man.

Comment by Chris Brablc on July 22, 2014 at 10:57am

Thanks Matt!  Glad you liked it.  I think there are so many areas where recruiting can be influenced from a marketing perspective.  I know I for one am highly encouraged on the growth in the space and where it's headed both from a strategy and technology perspective.

Comment by Keith Halperin on July 22, 2014 at 7:13pm

Thanks, Chris.

"Candidate perception and expectations for finding and applying for jobs is still relatively low but is raising every day."

What evidence do you have for this? It's been my experience that if you aren't an Employer of Choice (EOC) and aren't looking for the "Fabulous 5%" or some other in demand  skill sets, or if you are an EOC and not looking for politically well-connected "Fab 5%," you can treat people like dog crap on your shoes and they'll still line up for a chance at a decent FT job. If companies REALLY cared, the could hire loads of $2.00/hr offshore virtual Candidate Care Reps to make sure each and every applicant had a professional (if not actually pleasant) experience. Instead, what I see is AT BEST, a bunch of companies each year competing to get the equivalent of pretty gold stars for doing what every company should do as a matter of course- you don't give awards for NOT polluting or for NOT discriminating - why should you get awards for NOT treating applicants like dog crap on your shoe? Fundamentally, things will stay as they are until the proper behavior treating ALL applicants with respect and professionalism)  is meaningfully and positively reinforced and improper behavior (treating them like dog crap on your shoes) isn't reinforced.

No Cheers,

Keith "Hope I'm Wrong" Halperin

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on July 23, 2014 at 9:04pm

Not sure about anyone else, but I TOTALLY judge companies on how they reply to customer questions, comments and complaints on twitter. In fact, a few times I saw friends ranting about something crappy happening on FB and I told them to tweet it if they wanted some action from the company. 

As far as AMEX goes, they pretty much rock the customer service scene as far as I'm concerned. As a longtime card holder, I've been impressed several times about how they've resolved problems. One example: About a year ago I got an email from them, which I initially ignored (as possible phishing) while viewing from my phone, I also got a voicemail from them that made me take it seriously and call back. They were attempting to notify me of my account possibly being used fraudulently - turns out it was. This was on a Friday and first thing Saturday morning a new card was delivered. 

Anyway, yes, there are plenty of similarities between good customer service and candidate experience. Mostly just the common sense stuff that hiring companies disregard. 

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