Looking for loyal staff? Employ your customers

What non-employee knows your brand better than a loyal customer?

Simon Dalley: BrightHR Brand Marketing Manager

However, now I work at a company servicing the HR industry, my view has changed on how marketing, as a function, should interact with other departments of a business.

Historically, in most businesses, marketing hasn’t had much to do with the HR department, an invisible barrier of different skill sets and objectives separating them. The reasons for this are pretty straightforward - things that marketers tend to be bothered about are budgets, products, advertising reach and the company’s customers, whereas HR teams tend to be concerned with the acquisition and retention of employees.

So what’s changing?

In the new, and extremely well connected technological age, we’re breaking down those barriers between departments and a great opportunity for collaboration between the HR and marketing team is emerging to look to your customers to find your next batch of employees.

Why should you consider hiring your customers?

Easy - Your customers are already totally engaged with your brand. They get it. They interpret the brand as being partly made up of a company’s reputation, partly made of interactions with various touch points, and partly made up of its culture, which is reflected in a company’s genuine and perceived values.

If the marketers have done their job properly; if your customers love the product(s) and brand, it’s highly likely they’d love to work for your company as well. Getting the cultural fit right is so important when considering new employees, so thinking about how a potential employee engages with the brand should be a consideration when the HR team are recruiting.

In marketing, we increasingly talk about employees as brand ambassadors. We’re all social animals by the nature of our environment and very few people don’t have at least one social media account. As a result we all share the good and the bad of what it’s like to work at a business without a second thought.

There are some obvious benefits to a business of this.

Really engaged employees are an important aid to the marketing function because their social activity can dramatically increase the reach of a business’ message.

However, in a world where the social media activities of the engaged employees could be seen as a core part of a company’s marketing activities, it’s essential that the personal branding of the employed individual is considered in the recruitment process.

The marketing department is ideally placed to advise their employees who to engage with and how to think more strategically when commenting about the business socially.

Recruiting the right customers

We live in an era where people are more loyal to the brands they buy, than they are to the companies they choose to work for.

Employees don’t want a job anymore. That’s old school. The world has changed.

With the advent of the internet, potential employees are increasingly becoming more consumer-like in their job search. The truth of the situation is:

  • They can shop around anonymously for different jobs at will
  • They can offer their services to other companies relatively easily
  • They can develop a meaningful career, without the need to do that within one business
  • They will only remain loyal to the company they work for as long as they get the best deal and the best experience

This is a similar experience to when a consumer selects a brand, remains loyal but later changes the brand they use because they’ve received a better offer. If companies don’t engage and reward staff they’ll simply look for a new job.

Building employee loyalty

HR Professionals can look to marketing departments to assist in developing strategies in how to recruit the right staff, engage them and increase retention.

Two important elements of the recruitment process involve getting the right people to notice you and to assess those people who have a potential benefits to the business.

Marketing teams provide increasing support to HR departments, as they already have many of the tools, channels and audiences in place to go to market with the message HR teams want to deliver.

Very often it’s possible to generate a really clear picture about specific people through tools such as marketing automation and, if these processes are applied to potential employees (remember we have a wealth of info on them because I’m suggesting you should select from your customers), then we should be able to start to predict how they will perform in certain roles and situations.

For example, those members of a company’s audience who are early adopters, who are inquisitive and who stand out from the crowd in their choices, may be more suited to a creative role within a business.

If you’re looking for someone to fill a customer service role then you may be looking for someone with softer social skills. In the review process you may look at any potential employee who has complained a lot and then make the decision to exclude them from the interview stage or to consider if, the fact they complain gives them the potential to have a much better understanding of how customers who have problems should be dealt with, they may be more compassionate, and empathetic.

There is a wealth of information at the fingertips of teams that already exist within the business, now is the time to use that to your advantage.