Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Friday, January 31, 2020

Poor Customer Service and How to Improve It


We use a number of job boards to post our vacancies on. One of these job boards is Reed.co.uk. We have been customers of Reed for over 10 years and have always found their job board to be very cost effective and worthwhile, although they really want to sack their PR agency - the TV ads are terrible!

They started out as a recruitment agency themselves before setting up a job board and offering other recruitment agents free credits to post on it. Before long they had turned into a major player in the job board market.

After Christmas 2018 we saw a spate of job advertisements coming our way from our clients right across the UK and with all shapes and sizes of job vacancies. We were very pleased to see this because our concern was that after Christmas and the arguments about Brexit just before, we would see a dramatic slowdown in work, but this did not happen in the first few weeks of January as we saw an increase in the number of applicants coming our way via our own sites.

Email Issue - nothing to do with us

We saw nothing of the sort in relation to Reed. Reed sent us precisely no CVs at all after Christmas, and this surprised us greatly because of the number of applications we were getting elsewhere. At first we thought it was an anomaly, but after a few days of not receiving any CVs we thought we had better check with our software company to make sure that there were no errors at their end. Our software company, Logic Melon, confirmed that everything was running to plan at their end, and so I contacted Reed.

The telephone call, which no doubt has been recorded for training and monitoring purposes, consisted of me asking the Reed sales operative what the problem was, and whether any issues had been reported through the lack of CVs being sent to us. I should add that by now we were aware of a number of CVs from candidates who had applied but where Reed had not actually sent us a copy of the CV.

The Reed sales operative informed us that they had been having problems because of one of their suppliers, namely their email service provider who had experienced difficulties, and were working to resolve it. The sales operative assured me that the service would be up and running as soon as possible and was about to come off the phone at that point.

I asked him why a company of the size of Reed had not got in touch with its customers to notify them of the problems with the service, and to warn them to check their accounts to make sure they were getting CVs through, particularly because the whole purpose of having a Reed account is to attract applicants to your vacancies. If no applicants are coming via the job board there is no point advertising on it. The Reed operative informed me that it wasn’t Reed’s fault and it was actually their supplier. I have to confess I did get a little bit hot under the collar at this point and pointed out that if I contacted my clients when anything went wrong and blamed everybody else other than myself I wouldn’t have any clients very long at all. It was about 5 minutes into the conversation before the man from Reed actually said that Reed were sorry for the inconvenience caused. I still had to ask after this for Reed to send me an update once the service was resolved so that we could stop needing to check continually to see if any CVs had been added to the system.

This is a classic example of a failed sales opportunity. Reed knew they had a problem, they knew what the problem was and they knew that a number of their clients had been affected. They chose to tell nobody about the problem and to instead leave their customers to work out themselves that there had been an issue. Even once the customer had worked out themselves that there had been an issue, they then had to go through a process of ringing Reed to find out that Reed knew already that there was a problem, and even then Reed did not offer any form of apology and instead blamed the supplier.

So how could Reed have dealt with this matter more effectively? 

The first thing they should have done was to contact all their customers to tell them that there was an issue on the system and to keep an eye out for any CVs not arriving safely from candidates applying for jobs. They could then perhaps have extended everyone’s contracts for a month or given them extra CV credits by way of an apology, as I don’t think we would have thought much of the incident other than to be impressed that Reed had informed us that there was an issue. By completely failing to inform us of the issue, and instead tried to blame someone else and not apologising at all at any point without being prompted, was just really poor customer service, and for a company the size of Reed one would expect considerably better.

This is fairly common in dot com companies where no-one ever wants to apologise for anything or even speak to the customer because they don’t really care and they’re so big they can get away with ignoring you. I am not sure whether this applies to Reed, but I have to say I was mightily disappointed at the attitude shown to me on the phone. The salesman who spoke to me was not rude in any way, but he had clearly been briefed by somebody not to apologise or to take any action to support the customer who may or may not be experiencing an issue with the service.

This article is written by Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten Percent Legal Recruitment who regularly blogs on issues affecting the recruitment industry and also the legal profession. He is available for press and media comments at cv@ten-percent.co.uk.

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