Don't Call it a "Call Center": Cielo's Impression Center Provides An Unforgettable Candidate Experience

At Cielo, we talk with thousands of job seekers every day. Several will go on to have successful careers with one of our clients, while many others will need to continue their searches elsewhere. But our approach, whether we are talking with a surefire future CEO or someone brand new to the workforce, is to treat each person with the same respect and attention. Everyone deserves a career they love, and that starts with delivering a positive, thoughtful candidate experience.

One of the best tools we have for this is our Impression Center, made up of a team of agents who are dedicated to supporting candidates throughout the application process. Perhaps there is a technical issue with an online application, or maybe a candidate recently went in for an interview and is anxious to hear about any updates with the position. Whatever the case, our agents are there to listen and resolve any problems, providing our signature WE BECOME YOU™ service on behalf of our clients.

We talked with some of our Impression Center agents to hear their stories.

What do you enjoy about working at the Impression Center?

Terra Emerson: I love those moments where you really do make someone feel comfortable for trying to be in control of their own career. Maybe someone has been unemployed for six months, and we’re one of a million places they’ve applied to, and they’re so happy that someone’s actually picking up the phone. Someone is actually there saying, “It’s OK to call me. You’re not a bother. Yes, I’ll tell you if there are any updates. I’ll familiarize you with the process.” This is a wonderful experience for people, because so often the standard call center experience can be very plain and impersonal. But we understand the human side of it. We’ve all been there.

Jennifer Merenkov: I don’t ever like hearing that we’re a “call center.” We want people to think of us more as a Candidate Care Center, where we’re a little bit more compassionate and willing to help. The satisfaction that I get in this job is that I am able to do whatever is in my power to make sure that the candidate gets what they are looking for. Whatever their question is, whatever problem they’re having, I get to do whatever I can to help so that when I get off that phone, they’re happy with what they got.

Brittany Foster: A really good call is when someone is calling in to check their status, and they haven’t seen their email yet that says they have an invite for an interview, and then you get to tell them and hear the excitement and the joy of them saying, “OK, this is finally working! I have an interview!” They’re so excited that they’re almost nervous, and it makes me excited and nervous at the same time. I’m like, “Good luck, I hope you get it!” I kind of want to call them back the day after and ask how’d it go. It just makes me happy to hear that.

Erica Meshke: I really like how easily you can turn around a bad situation. My favorite way to do that is over the phone, so I can give them that tone and warm feeling, that sense of urgency that shows them that I’m really trying to help them. Tone and verbiage is everything, and you can only do that through actual conversation.

How do you go about turning what starts as a negative phone call into a positive one?

EM: Most of it is really just taking the time to listen. Some candidates don’t even really need anything, they just need to vent to somebody. They need to let somebody know that they’ve been looking for a job for three-plus years, and they just want to be heard. They want to feel like someone is not just looking at their application and tossing it away – they want that personal touch. You just let them get it out. That’s a luxury we have here, because at a regular call center, they can be strict about how long you can spend on a call. But we’re like, “Nope, take your time. Do what you’ve got to do. Whatever makes a candidate happy – however long you need to spend to help this one person – do it.” I haven’t seen a lot of places do that.

BF: I definitely try to empathize with them. I put myself in their shoes, because I’ve been on that side many times. Things just might not be going well, and I try to turn it around and get them rescheduled, or I’ll talk to a recruiter to try and get it resolved. If I can’t get it done right then, I’ll set up a follow-up where I’m taking care of this to make sure it’s cleared up beginning to end.

TE: I try to give the candidate what they need in that moment. This is where that active listening comes in, listening for certain keywords so you know how to react to the call, because you don’t want to not pick up on those signals and say something that’s just going to escalate them. I eventually try to redirect them to more positive things. I let them say how they feel, and I say, “I understand, I know it can be difficult” and relate to them in that I’ve been there before, but also that, “I definitely don’t feel this is the end of the road for you.” I let them know there are more opportunities for them. Even if there isn’t a position available at this time, sometimes we do reach out if you’ve previously applied. They can always call us, go to the website, send us emails.

How do candidates react to being able to speak to a real person?

JM: Oh, they love it. They will say to us, “Wow, no other company has this! This is so great that I can actually talk to a live person!” One guy, when I answered the phone, there was this long pause before he finally asked, “Are you a robot?” I told him, “No. I am living.” Candidates hands down appreciate the service we give. One-on-one listening, understanding what’s going on, answering the questions and doing whatever needs done. They appreciate it, and they can sense that we are doing whatever we can.

BF: I had this guy, he was like, “Say, ‘apple’ for me. Just to make sure you’re a real person.” I was like, “Apple. I’m a real person. I’m here in Wisconsin, it’s 70 degrees outside.” He cracked up laughing and said, “I’m so sorry.” It just really surprised him. It’s a sign of the times, as my grandmother would say.

TE: It’s unfortunate that the expectation is set so low, but that’s what makes the IC so great for people. When they call us, it’s like, “Whoa, it’s a real person! Thank you so much for helping me!” They did not expect that to happen at all, but instead just to leave their voice mail and never hear from anyone again.

 

What has been your most memorable call?

TE: It was near the end of my shift one night and this woman calls saying she’s having issues applying online. After going through the typical troubleshooting options, I find out that she’s been using a tablet, which I know is not compatible with a lot of websites. So I have to tell her that the tablet is basically preventing her from applying, and she just started crying. She was like, “My mother just passed away. She was my income. I was taking care of her, getting paid for that. I don’t have a job, I’m about to lose this house. I need to apply for all these jobs. I don’t understand, why is this happening to me?” It was just this real down-and-out moment, and it got to me, too. I cried afterward, but I had to hold it together for the phone call.

So I spent a whole 45 minutes on the phone with this woman getting her through the whole application. She could not have been more thankful. She said, “I cannot believe you just did this for me. I can’t thank you enough. You just don’t even understand what that means to me.” And I was like, “Well, I’m just doing my job.”

It was totally after my shift by the time we were done, but it was well worth it to me, because those are the moments I’ll never forget. So when I get new people who come into the IC, I tell them, “You’ll have those moments and they’ll make you cry. But that’s why you do everything you can to help that other person, just one human being helping another human being.”

EM: I once spent about two hours on the phone with this guy who was an over-the-road trucker. He called in because he didn’t really have access to a computer and couldn’t really fill out applications, so he was very upset because he’d been wanting to get another job and he just felt like he couldn’t. I just sat there on the phone with him and filled out three or four applications with him. It was a really good experience. I had fun talking to him, he was really funny. I even had to put him on hold for a little bit, I was like, “OK, I have to go to the bathroom, but I’m going to be back.” It’s fun, I feel like you make friends every day. 

BF: There was a lady I talked to who applied for a position over 60 times. She tried and tried and kept getting rejected. She was very upset and wondering, “What’s going on? What happened?” So I looked into it and there were some issues with her profile that needed some attention. So she fixed those, applied again, and two weeks later had a phone interview, which was farther than she had ever gotten in the process. She told me, “Oh, thank you, I can’t believe that happened!” And this was one of the ones where she was beside herself, the situation was escalated from the start, so I took it upon myself and said, “OK, we’re going to walk through this.” She was saying she just wanted to give up and forget it. To me, I don’t like hearing that. I don’t like, “I want to give up.” I was raised not to have that in my vocabulary, so I don’t like hearing someone else say that. She just made those small changes and it had a big impact. She was such a sweet lady, I couldn’t let her go.

JM: There was an older woman who called who was on her son’s laptop, and went on our website and got help from us. I walked her through to get where she needed to look at the jobs. We explained the positions to her, and she thought she’d be perfect for it, so we were trying to help her apply for it, and then her son comes in and says, “I need my laptop, I’ve gotta go.” And she says, “Well, wait a minute, I’m trying to apply to this.” He became very belligerent toward her, and she said to me, “I can’t do this anymore, my son needs the laptop.” She literally hung up on me. But I had her information, and her name, phone number, all that. And it just sat with me, I had this feeling that this is not right. First off, I didn’t like the way he was talking to his mother, and secondly, she needed a job. And she needs help applying. So I called her back, and she was in tears. I said, “Listen, how about this? How about if I apply with you? Let’s just get this ball rolling, we’ll apply for as many positions as you want, but let’s just get you a profile and do this.” So I had her go to a library so she could find a computer and continue. She was so grateful, she said, “Really?” I asked if she had time, and she said, “Yes, I have all the time in the world, I don’t have a job!” It took a bit, but we got it done. She then got a phone interview, and from that she got a face-to-face interview, and from that she got hired. So it made me just so happy, because I knew in my gut that it wasn’t right and I couldn’t let it go. It was something that I had to see through. It’s a happy ending.

Not Just a Call Center

Empathy. Patience. Kindness. As evidenced by these stories, our Impression Center (IC) agents possess qualities and receive training that allow them to deliver a candidate experience like no other. They guide people through what is so often a frustrating, stress-inducing process with care, and a genuine interest in putting the candidate in the best position for success. Whether or not they eventually land a job, the candidate will come away with a positive feeling toward the client company, strengthening its employer brand. Our agents take dozens of calls every day, yet they treat each one with the same individual attention. As any one of them will tell you – it is not a call center, the IC is a Care Center.

Want to read more about the Impression Center? Bill Lindala had worked at a lot of companies before he came to Cielo, but he had never seen anything like the IC. Read his story here

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