Nearly 15 years into the 21st century, we are in an era seemingly monopolized by technological innovations. Instant internet access, social media and real-time reaction are literally in the palm of our hands with the advent of smart phones and other mobile technologies. In turn, job seekers, employees and customers have mind-numbing transparency into company culture, brand and quality of products/services.

Websites such as Glassdoor, Indeed, Yelp and pretty much any social media platform not only enable people to peer into the inner-workings of each company, but these engines have given us the opportunity to share what a company, product or service is really like.

88% of people have been influenced by an online customer service review – not just potential employees, but customers who spend significant amounts of money to purchase your products and services. Poor customer service not only harms brand and reputation, therefore limiting ability to recruit top talent, but unhappy customers can diminish market share in rapid, potentially irreparable fashion.

This week’s Talent Acquisition Fast Facts explores the business impact of the customer experience and what it means to each company’s strategic viability:

According to a 2014 study conducted by the Harvard Business Review (HBR), less than half of all companies view the customer experience as a strategic priority. Having surveyed more than 400 U.S. executives, additional research from HBR’s study is eye-opening:

  • 44% of respondents say that their organizations do not provide sufficient funding for customer experience programs.
  • More than half (52%) say that their organizations “lack the processes” to support customer experience programs. 
  • 64% indicate that their companies are not “forward-looking” with respect to customer experience management.

For all the talk of candidate experience, research indicates most companies lack a “mature customer experience program” (i.e., inadequate funding for customer experience programs, lack of commitment to customer experience and/or no vision to change). The HBR study concludes that companies struggling in this area are finding it difficult to prove “the financial value of customer experience investments” (see below), but also in their ability to ignite lasting cultural change. How is this possible?

45% of surveyed executives in HBR’s study say that their companies are finding it “very difficult” to tie customer experience investments to better business outcomes.

In a study conducted by Dimensional Research, more than 1,000 leaders with experience in customer service management at mid-sized companies were surveyed. Participants were asked to rank what most impacts the level of trust customers have in their companies: 

1.)    Offers excellent customer service

2.)    Offers the best price

3.)    Has a relatable brand

4.)    Company is financially stable

Are you surprised by this – the fact that “excellent customer service” ranks above “best price”?

Also according to Dimensional Research, 61% of surveyed Millennials, 65% of Generation Xers and 50% of Baby Boomers say they are “more likely” to tell others about customer service experiences today than they were five years ago – via word of mouth, review websites and social media.

With unprecedented capabilities to spread good or bad experiences with restaurants, supermarkets, financial institutions, call centers, sporting events, vendors, realtors, teachers and healthcare organizations, among countless others, do you think it’s possible that companies are still hesitant to invest in customer experience programs?

One segment appears to have caught on to the importance of candidate and customer experiences. Recognizing that all candidates and employees are potential consumers/customers, in recent years more companies are investing in strategic talent acquisition and talent management. Take the following research, for example:

According to Software Advice, which provides detailed reviews and research on thousands of software applications, 48% of 4,633 surveyed professionals/job seekers have used the job review website Glassdoor at some point in their job searches. Most notably, 60% of respondents said they would not apply to a company with a one-star rating (on a five-point scale).

A recent LinkedIn study of 2,250 corporate recruiters in the U.S. found that cost-per-hire is more than two times lower for companies with strong employer brands; according to the same study, organizations with strong employer brand have 28% lower turnover rates as opposed to weak employer brands.

83% of nearly 4,000 corporate HR leaders across the globe believe employer brand has a significant impact on their ability to hire quality talent.

A strong employer brand comprises many components – company culture, candidate perception, employee engagement and, undeniably, the customer experience. Building a strong brand can include strategies as simple as supporting a worthy public cause. In fact, research shows that 72% of consumers would recommend or buy from a brand that supports a good cause over one that does not.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the customer and candidate experience on the Cielo social media pages – Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter!