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Perfecting the Customer Experience: Four Qualities of Successful Customer Service

09/03/2015 11.25 EST

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How many times have you become frustrated with a customer service operation? I would be surprised if everyone hasn’t had a similar, less than positive, experience. This recent encounter of mine may sound familiar: I called a company’s customer service department and I was placed on hold for 20 minutes. Eventually, my call was disconnected. Then, I reconnected with the customer service department and the representative on the line couldn’t help directly. As a result, I was passed off to several of their colleagues, with each person asking me the same questions. Once reaching a customer service professional who could help, I had a great deal of difficulty understanding them. Either their phone system was poor and muffled, or I was connected with their outsourced colleagues in the Philippines or India. In the end, I still did not have a resolution to my problem.   As a result, when you do reach a customer service department that is exemplary, it really stands out. What does above-average customer service entail? Here’s what your experience should look like:   Consistent: One person should be able to handle and answer the questions and problems of a customer. Avoid passing the person around to your colleagues as much as possible. If you need to enhance your knowledge to solve the issue, find out the answer quickly and remain the consistent contact with the customer.   Results-oriented: Be tenacious and find the solution to the problem. Call the customer back to ensure...

Why the Small Things Matter

07/30/2015 11.03 EST

The most important thing to keep in mind is this – everything you do related to responding to a job opportunity and going through the process is part of how you will be evaluated.
Why the Small Things Matter

Perfecting all of the little interview details will have a big impact on your potential employers’ opinions of you.

The most important thing to keep in mind is this – everything you do related to responding to a job opportunity and going through the process is part of how you will be evaluated....

I really can’t wait to see social recruiting at its best. Until then…?

07/01/2015 03.11 EST

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I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the current crop of social recruiting experts out there are simply full of it.  In a vacuum, this statement is going to delight one of my partners, who routinely rejects any application of ”science” to the “art” of retained search (yes, we know you had to walk ten miles barefoot to school every day, Grampa John).  However, I believe that social recruiting, and the creative use of current and future applied technologies, will have a huge impact on talent acquisition and the way we engage with the individuals we want to join our companies.  But here’s the thing:  I just don’t think the people leading the charge at the moment are very good at it.   I’ve reviewed the published lists of social recruiting gurus and the bios of speakers at talent acquisition and human resources conferences.  From these sources, it would appear that the two most significant qualifications required to be anointed a guru are: “I tweet a lot!” and “I have a ridiculously large number of LinkedIn connections!”  This, my friends, is a very low bar.  However, the demand for social media expertise is high, and if you tweet more than your clients then, to them anyway, you are an expert.   I equate the current state of the burgeoning social recruiting consulting industry to the state of retained search in a booming economy.  Just about anyone can throw out a shingle and make a quick buck...

Parents’ Guide to Helping Their Child Find a Job

05/27/2015 10.42 EST

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Salveson Stetson Group hosts an annual College Seminar for our clients to support their family members who will be graduating from college.  At this seminar, we focus on providing advice to students on how to effectively look for a job.  In addition, we spend time with parents and discuss how they can best support their children.   It has been a very successful and well attended event each year.  As you can imagine, many parents have greatly encouraged their children to attend with the hopes that our advice will land their child that elusive first job.   We have to navigate through a sensitive path with parents at the College Seminar.  First and foremost, they are our clients.  We want to help them, but also ease their anxieties about their children.  Some are frustrated, as they don’t believe their child has been active enough in the job market.  Others are concerned that their child seems aimless with little direction regarding what they intend to do with their life.  Some parents are ready to have their children “off the payroll” and actively participating in the world of work and want to ensure they are able to find the best job for themselves.  Bottom line – we see it all.   One interesting aspect of the College Seminar program is allowing parents to vent their concerns, hopes and dreams for their child, along with their frustrations.  Naturally, it becomes a supportive environment where parents learn from one another.  Here...

Emerging Issues in Executive Search

04/29/2015 03.16 EST

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Last week I attended the annual Global Conference of the AESC – The Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants – in New York City.  This is the sole organization that represents the $11 billion global executive search industry.  The mission of the AESC is to serve as the voice of excellence for executive search and leadership consultants worldwide.  This year’s conference was attended by about 200 search professionals from 23 countries, and it was organized around three themes – innovation, inclusion and intuition.   I have attended this conference for many years and served on the Americas Council of the AESC, so I have a rather good sense of where our industry has been and where it is going.  Here are some observations about things that have changed – and some that have stayed the same – over those many years.   When I first began to attend this conference in the late 1990s, there were only a handful of participants from outside of the US, and a handful of women attendees as well. It was truly the land of old, white men.  This year, about 40 percent of the participants were women.  The average age was far younger, and I spent time with people from Brazil, Ireland, Dubai, South Africa, Venezuela, Canada and Belgium. In my 20 years in the executive search industry, the word “innovation” has rarely passed my lips when discussing our profession. Last week’s meeting didn’t change that.  The basic foundation of...

I Feel the Need for Speed (and Accuracy)

03/26/2015 12.05 EST

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  When we pitch a search to a potential new client, one of the first questions we’re asked is how long we think the process may take.  Companies want to know how long it will take their search partner to identify and present a slate of candidates.  For the record, on average it takes SSG somewhere between four and six weeks to bring a highly qualified group of executives to any individual engagement.  Sometimes, we see either explicit or tacit anxiety from the company regarding the length of time it takes to generate candidates.  If I feel this anxiety roiling in the background, I often take out this chart:   These data are drawn from thousands of searches conducted by SSG over the past 19 years.  And, I am pretty sure that most other retained executive search firms could pull charts together that look similar – if not identical – to the one above.  So, as a hiring manager, human resources or talent acquisition professional, if you are asking your search firm how they can shave a few days off the time it takes to deliver a slate of candidates, you are asking the wrong question.  Alternatively, what you should be asking is: “Why does it take us so damn long to hire an executive?”   While there are a thousand little variations, thematically there are only a few large factors that influence the pace of the hiring process:   We really don’t have a hiring process....

Time for Resolutions – I really mean it this time!

01/28/2015 03.21 EST

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As we enter into the New Year, resolutions have been made, modified and broken.  How many times have we pledged to exercise more, eat healthier and be kinder to others and then turn around and break those commitments?  The answer is – most of the time!   As 2015 gets under way, these are the handful of pledges I have made, but also plan to really keep:   Live a healthier life: People who know me will most likely say I already live by this rule.  I generally have a healthy approach to eating and exercise.  However, I believe I can improve on it by being more intentional as well as realistic.  One goal is to eat more organic fruits and vegetables every single day.  I know this is doable!  Also with my new gadget, the FitBit, combined with my competitive tendencies – I plan to meet my goal of 10,000 steps 90% of the time.  This wonderful gadget silently cheers me on to get moving, and I listen to it.  I’m even starting to have “walking meetings” with my colleagues – a great way to get two things done at the same time!   Use technology differently: I have not been on the iPad bandwagon, but plan to be.  I now have one and intend to use it in meetings, including for sales presentations.  The iPad will also allow me to access information more effectively when I’m traveling.  It will also help in alleviating eye strain...

What I Learned About Holiday Cards This Year

01/07/2015 04.26 EST

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I’ve been knocking around the world of work for more than 35 years now, so I feel qualified to make blanket statements and sweeping generalizations about plenty of things with only limited facts.   Holiday cards just aren’t what they used to be.   This year, I received no more than five actual holiday greeting cards.  Five years ago, I bet I got at least 40.  I don’t think I am any less popular than I was back then, and my office location hasn’t moved so I think something else is afoot – and that something is digital greeting cards.   I will just come right out and say that I think most of them are lame, not at all creative, and so politically correct that I’m not even sure what I am being wished.  For the first time this year, I received several cards that said “Happy Everything.”  I am not making this up.   The other problem with digital holiday cards is that their nature is dependent on the device on which you read them.  I received an e-card from a large public accounting firm that appeared to be a bare brown tree in a field of green.  I kept clicking on the picture on my PC but nothing happened – it remained a bare brown tree.  Never wanting to miss a chance to take a shot at the managing partner of the firm, a friend, I immediately sent him an email complimenting him on...

What I Learned in Boston

12/08/2014 09.25 EST

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Random thoughts written on the plane ride back to Philadelphia after attending the Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange (October 5-8)   Over the past three days, I had the opportunity to participate in the Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange (GPLEX) in Boston.  The GPLEX serves as an annual experience that allows Philadelphia leaders in business, government and non-profit to learn about economic development initiatives underway in other cities with the hope that we can bring back useful ideas to apply to the challenges facing the Greater Philadelphia Region.  This trip was an eye-opening experience for me, and I wanted to share some of the highlights.   First and foremost, I found that there are a lot of incredibly talented people in Philadelphia who are deeply committed to improving the prospects for our Region and its residents.  Our delegation was comprised of approximately 120 outstanding leaders who I believe have the capacity to successfully address the challenges facing Philadelphia – such as educating our children, promoting the growth of our businesses, addressing income equality and modernizing our decaying infrastructure.  I would put these folks up against the brain trusts of any other major metropolitan area in the country.   Second, while there are a number of striking similarities between Philadelphia and Boston, we are very different communities.  Our region is much larger and more diverse than Boston.  As a result, our problems are more complex and our stakeholders are more numerous.  That being said, our friends in Boston seem to...

How Do Candidates Want to Be Treated?

10/29/2014 10.55 EST

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Many of us in the executive search business or corporate recruitment field talk about candidate care as an important aspect of what we do.  How do we communicate and interact with candidates during the recruitment process?  How often should we communicate with them?  The definition of “candidate care” is different from person to person, firm to firm and company to company.   One aspect of the recruitment process that is guaranteed to frustrate candidates is lack of communication.  For example, you have applied for a position and perhaps have interviewed with the search firm or company, but unfortunately, there is a limited feedback loop about where you stand in the process.  No one likes to be ignored or avoided.  It leaves you feeling negatively about the potential employer, and that negative news spreads to others – especially in the age of social media.   So what are some best practices for treating candidates so that even if they are not selected, they feel they have been treated respectfully and fairly?   Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. If several weeks go by without any decisions on next steps, you – as the search consultant or recruiter – should call or send the candidate a message.  Let them know they are still being considered but the process is taking longer than expected.   Even if you don’t have any news, still contact them.  Some news is better than no contact.  Leaving candidates in limbo can be a turn-off, and it can also...