Hiring for Cultural Fit & Customer-Centricity

What is the most determining factor to your business’s success?

Depending on industry specifics you may respond with: government policy, market conditions, leadership or organisation structure. To be fair, all of the above responses are true, however, partially as all business sectors have a single, success determining factor – customers.

You may say it’s obvious and doesn’t need to be said as customers have always been important.

But did you account for all the recent technological advances and how they continue to change the way we communicate as well as what profound effect those aforementioned changes have on the customer/business relationship dynamic?

Account for change

We live in a digitally connected world, one in which ideas, products and services spread like wildfire with just a single tap of a button. Long gone are the days when the emphasis was solely on the product itself, it has since then shifted to how is it delivered and supported throughout its life-cycle. This constant need for innovation which seamlessly transpires every fibre of our daily lives requires an in-depth focus on customer insights, development of collaborative solutions and has turned your valued customers into an integral part of your business model.

Embrace, implement & adapt

Customer experience is essential to business success, it also requires adopting a customer-centric culture; it’s a long-term goal, one which can’t be achieved through cliche slogans nor repeating key phrases during conversations. Your entire company will have to embrace this new approach and nurture it – the process you’re about to undertake is not limited to customer-facing positions.

Every action, every decision (yes, higher echelon of management included) and each development has to be driven by your end goal – achieving customer centricity.

Company culture is the “soul” of your organisation, the values on which it was founded upon and to which you adhere to; it’s the way you communicate with co-workers and clients alike, how tasks get done, and in the long run it’s something that defines your entire company. It’s almost intangible at first but once it sets in the effects it has on your enterprise will be vivid.

Which is why it’s essential to align your recruitment as well as retention processes with this mindset and cultivate them; engage current employees and hire those who will enhance the new culture.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding floating around about what cultural fit means. Most importantly, hiring for cultural fit is not about hiring an army of clone-like drones, all of whom will march to the same drumbeat as it only leads to stagnation.

Rather, hiring for cultural fit is about bringing in people whose ideas and outlook not only align with your culture but also poses qualities which supplement it, thus enhancing it further.

Evolution, not a revolution

How will it impact your hiring process?

You get to keep your rule book and best practices but they will need to undergo a change of attitude and emphasis.Your goal is to start building a relationship with your potential candidates the moment you post your advert.

Your goal is to start building a relationship with your potential candidates the moment you post your advert.

Bellow, you’ll find tips when hiring for a customer-centric culture:

  • Revamp the job description; Start by reframing the job description. Move away from the standard, purely task oriented and qualification driven model. Focus on desired attitudes and expectations – create an experience.
  • Advertise your culture; Share information and details regarding your company culture when you advertise the position, put it in the spotlight. This will attract individuals who are bound to be a natural fit, ones who align with your organisational framework. Use every communication opportunity to showcase how culture truly is the soul of your company.
  • Focus on people, not qualifications; Do not base your screening efforts solely on qualifications and experience. Rephrase interview questions in order to draw out attitudes and personality traits. Even the most qualified person for the job, if they’re not a cultural fit, can become a bane and not a boon – dooming your customer-centric efforts and spoiling your hard work.
  • Soft skills are important; Your employees need to move away from the purely task-oriented days of olde as embracing customer-centricity requires communication, collaboration and interaction. Ensure that your interview process contains an open discussion element and observe the soft skills in action.
  • Onboard culture; Create an onboarding process which helps people to start engaging with your company culture from the moment they’re hired. Introduce the new hire to the organisation, give them time to get to know their work colleagues. Let them experience the culture by becoming an integral part of it. Use this as an opportunity to reinforce the message across existing teams – embrace customer-centricity.

We’re not going to lie, this new hiring process will require more time and effort than the old, box-ticking method but the long-term impact it has on your entire enterprise is well worth.

Customer centricity can be achieved by nurturing a company culture in which people are put at the very core of the business, therefore recruiting the right people will enhance the process.

Boost Your Productivity With These 6 Actionable Steps

Being productive in the workplace is a problem many of us face, but what can be done to increase our productivity tenfold and not experience burn-out?

Let’s  start with these six simple tips:

You can’t afford to waste time

The first step you should take is to avoid wasting time, the amount of opportunities you have during the day to plan and think things through is astonishing.

All those ‘pre-requisites’ and mundane tasks you have a each day. Showering, commuting to work are just two examples of thinking opportunities we have each day, don’t pass on them.

Look around, and see how people waste their time on gossip and other meaningless things, that time is lost but you can spend that precious time on the latest challenge on your to-do list. Never let time slip by worthlessly, you can’t afford it.

The time of the day matters more than you think

Different strokes for different folks.

If there was a ‘Problem-Solving 101’ class its first semester would be devoted to in-depth analysis of how it’s better to tackle different tasks during different times of the day.

For example, fairly small but immediate problems are best to be dealt with first thing in the morning, proverbially ‘knocking them out of the park’ as the day begins providing with the necessary warm-up as well as ‘space’ to handle the more complex issues uninterrupted.

In order to find out what works for you, test a bit. Try tackling different types of challenges during different times of the day and see what works for you.

Re-think your approach before sleep

According to a plethora of studies on the impact of sleep on the brain, sleep is used to make sense of what’s going on in our lives, as well as natural cataloguing and prioritising system for thoughts and memories.

With the above in mind  it’s only natural to implement re-thinking before going to sleep, as an effective problem-solving tactic. But don’t fall into the trap of mulling over something just before ‘hitting the sack’ as it’ll only increase the doubt and will be the cause for many sleepless nights.

Simply, re-think your approach and get some well deserved sleep, you will wake up knowing which course of action to take.

Give yourself the necessary space

The hardest decision are the momentous ones.

The most important thing to do in these particular cases is to give yourself enough space (since time is of the essence and you can’t afford it) to consider all the available options and their respective outcomes.

Avoid interruptions at all cost and don’t let anyone rush you, with such an approach you’re bound to make the right choice.

Amp-up your work-space

Human beings are heavily dependent on their environment, this goes for their work environment as well. There’s no doubt that adding a personal touch to your surroundings can heavily impact your inspiration and creative thinking.

Your work-space may not inspire lateral thinking.

Sometimes if you need to analyse a problem thoroughly you might need to go out for a bit to stimulate your brain and help you think creatively and positively.

The ‘under-pressure’ conundrum

If faced with a difficult problem we need time and space to make a well educated choice.

The ‘time and space’ concept gets flipped over when you introduce pressure from peers into the equation.  We require the solitude the space provides and the luxury of time necessary for research, but what if we can’t simply afford neither of these?

The only proper course of action is to make the best out the worst case scenario, start by gathering information from the people you trust. Second step is to find  a quiet place and set a time-limit for yourself. All that’s left is to think things through and act.

Make Continuous Improvement Your Ultimate Goal

We all know turning customers away is fatal for business but we can also agree that there is always room for improvement when it comes to customer care.

Top notch customer service skills are a given if you want to provide an unforgettable customer experience. Unfortunately, not many enterprises will admit that their inner processes or quality of provided services are the leading cause of steadily declining customer satisfaction.

Real-time customer support is essential

Gaining new customers is harder than getting new business from an established customer base, but established and loyal customers provide great opportunities in the digital age, such as customer referrals and word-to-mouth.

The most overlooked part of customer experience is one-on-one customer support sessions – it often gets substituted with almost rage inducing automated technology.

The rise of the multi-channel era made B2C communications easier: blogs, websites and social media. However, for most of your customers, social media and websites might be not personal enough. Nothing can substitute the satisfaction which comes from solving a problem though more personal communication channels. Make sure to focus your customer support effort on these three solutions:

  • The “old-school” phone call, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon
  • Live web-chat, it’s the “go-to” choice for the Y generation
  • Follow-up emails or other communication methods, to reassure the customer

It all comes down to embracing and nurturing real-time interaction channels. Once you do, you’ll quickly notice renewal rates rise up and you’ll gain a few more loyal customers at the same time.

Scout ahead

In order to successfully up-sell or cross-sell you need to scout ahead, going in blind, without gathering data regarding customer purchase habits is a recipe for failure.

Understand the needs and desires of the customer base; differentiate customer types (new, loyal, etc.). Customers will notice if you don’t do your homework which will result in lost opportunities.

Gathering intelligence and providing the customer with suitable options doesn’t always guarantee a sale, but it will leave a positive impression which in the future can result in a positive referral or a new sale.

Be flexible

Every company has a set of guidelines in place, especially for marketing or servicing customers – what most contact centre managers forget is that these are just guidelines, not set in stone rules.

Make these procedures more flexible for established customers as return business is good business – make it easier for them to give you just that.

Be flexible when it comes to pitching products or services – that’s it!

Broken promises

The biggest and most common mistake is over-selling your brand. Never do that as it just leads to broken promises and lost sales – oh, and bad press.

Learn to under-sell and exceed expectations; customer satisfaction does wonders.

Unfortunately sometimes, due to poor judgement, communication problems or “insert random excuse here” promises do get broken, and you fail to deliver. This is the time to atone for the sins and repair your relationship with the customer.

Common recovery tactics include these steps:

  • Admitting your mistake
  • Offering a genuine solution to the problem caused by the broken promise
  • Offering a refund to the customer
  • Offering free or discounted serviced or products, even if the customer took a refund

Leave personal problems at home

It’s hard, but personal problems should never interfere with customer interaction. Despite all the hardships you might be facing, contact centre agents need to remain polite, professional and most importantly reliable.

We at Opstalent think exceptional customer service is the backbone of a successful business, it’s time make it your priority as well!

Nearshoring: The ‘go-to’ Solution

The last few years have been pretty rough for the outsourcing industry as it suffered at an international level: economic, social and security changes are responsible and if that wasn’t enough, nearshoring is on the rise.

Delivery Preferences

The biggest challenge in outsourcing governance has shifted towards downstream risk mitigation by choosing the best delivery location. The outsourcing world became fully aware of potential safety risks offshoring brought upon themselves.

The cost savings gap between India and other popular locations such as Central Europe and Latin America decreased to less than ten percent. Central and Easter Europe are also viewed as a safer location site to host your BPO and ITO services.

The close proximity to the main facilities made it possible for a shift in delivery preferences towards nearshore and sameshore options alike.

Having contact centres nearshore and sameshore is the current trend and there are no signs of any changes in the upcoming years.

The Growing Trend

The shift in delivery opens up new possibilities for all the countries gathered under the so-called nearshore umbrella. The number of nearshore sites themselves has grown significantly.

Managers need to be aware, everyone is gunning for that nearshore multi-billion dollar pie – you’re bound to encounter some really “exotic” places thanks to advertisement and marketing. Proven nearshoring locations include Canada, Latin America, Central Europe and Poland.

The Nearshore Zone

But what defines a nearshore location? There are two rules mostly used in the outsourcing industry. The first one is that you don’t need to cross the ocean to get your nearshore site. The second one is quite similar, up to 5 hours of flight.

We believe that nearshoring locations should be aligned along a spectrum of potential outsourcing sites. On one end of that spectrum are locations such as China and India, on the other Poland and other Central European countries that specialise in BPO and ITO services.

Geolocation should never be the determining factor when looking for a potential nearshore location. Linguistic and cultural ties are also a key factor, even education similarities and directness of communication can be a deal-breaker.

Take the above factors into consideration before you choose a nearshore location or a partner since they tend to play a far more important role than they are given credit for.