Expectation of Service - The Customer Loyalty Myth in Recruitment

I'm guessing that if you're reading this blog that you're a fairly IT literate type person and that when you search the Internet you "loyally" use Google as your preferred search engine. You're not alone. I read recently that Google processes over a billion search requests every day.
What you might see as a loyalty to Google as a tool is, in my opinion, more likely to be a mixture of habit, laziness and an expectation that Google will satisfy your need.
If someone was to successfully launch an effective rival to Google a few may stray and use this alternative search engine enticed by a snappy marketing campaign. And few more might move to join them if this new engine began to offer some incentives to new users. But I can guarantee that there would be a seismic shift away from Google if it began failing to satisfy what I call our "Expectation of Service".
Expectation of Service is actually what people typically confuse with customer loyalty. When we type something into Google we "expect" to get the results and answers we were looking for. When we visit a restaurant we "expect" good service, clean premises, no food poisoning etc (as you can see my expectations of restaurants are quite low). When we pop into a shop to buy a pair of shoes we "expect" them to have our size. We just "expect" to get the result we're after and if we don't then well ....... we try an alternative supplier. And if that supplier meets our expectation it gets our business. We were never loyal to Google, or that restaurant or that shoe shop; we just had expectations.
The same holds true for probably every sector, service and product within our western economy including my own sector - Recruitment.
So when you have what you consider "loyal" customers don't be fooled into thinking that they won't try a new recruiter. They might give that recruiter a go because they feel they ought to shake things up now and then and have seen some great marketing material. They might give that recruiter a go if they're offered an incentive like a great fee reduction deal. But they will definitely use that recruiter if you begin failing their "expectation of service".
This doesn't mean that every project has to go like clockwork. We all know this is a complicated world and the course of an appointment never did run smooth. But it is vital that you do what you say you're going to do, by the date you said it would be done by, you keep everyone informed and you continually monitor and respond to what your customer expects.
Otherwise you only have your self to blame when that "loyal" customer hurts you by trying someone new.

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Comment by Terra on November 14, 2011 at 11:10am

I agree, for 25 years my motto has been "You are only as good as your next placement"

Comment by Tony Palm on November 14, 2011 at 12:01pm

At the risk of appearing contrary, it appears that the basic foundation of your argument, which I interpret as the Expectation of Service is often confused with and therefor mutually exclusive to customer loyalty, is flawed, and as a result, your conclusion is flawed.


Here is my counter argument:


A close friend once asked how I dealt with disappointment. My answer was difficult to express because the truth is, I am rarely disappointed. This is true because I strive to never place unrealistic expectations on people, places, or things.


By way of illustration, I will use your own example of visiting a restaurant for the first time.


Without an existing recommendation from someone who has already eaten there, I generally have no or low expectations of any restaurant that I’m trying for the first time. The restaurant’s ambiance, the wait staff’s appearance, friendliness, and attentiveness, along with the number of other patrons already there may give me some sense of what is in store, but I withhold judgment until I’ve eaten and left.


Of course, a McDonalds in Pittsburgh is going to afford the same dining experience as one in Topeka . . . .


If the experience was good or great, I will go again. And while my expectations are now higher, they are only slightly. If after a half-dozen visits over the course of perhaps a year or more, I continue to have good or great dining experiences, that particular restaurant will have earned my loyalty.


This is not to say that from time to time, I won’t try another restaurant for any number of reasons. Nonetheless, the restaurant who has earned my loyalty will continue to receive the lion’s share of my business. That is unless and until another restaurant usurps that loyalty due to my favored eatery not maintaining the high standards that won my loyalty in the first place.


For me, and I suspect for most of us, our customer loyalty is granted for more than just good service at a fair price. Customer loyalty is all about the TOTAL USER EXPERIENCE. If a recruiter or agency provides exceptional customer service on a consistent basis, it stands to reason; customers will in fact develop a reasonable expectation of excellence and will grant their loyalty.


Of course, a Robt. Half office in Pittsburgh is going to afford the same staffing experience as one in Topeka . . .

Comment by Suzanne Levison on November 14, 2011 at 2:33pm

I agree with Terra.

Comment by Suzanne Levison on November 14, 2011 at 2:37pm

Loyalty is a two way street~Client AND Recruiter/Exec Search Pro


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