“People work with people they like”. It’s a common adage that has proven true time and again, causing many businesses to stake their very reputation on providing stellar customer service. We all get it.

Or do we? You wouldn’t think so by looking at the numbers.

Employee satisfaction and loyalty in the staffing industry is historically low, and like it or not, poor candidate experiences lead to poor revenue numbers for staffing firms.

To understand just how big of a problem the poor candidate experience is for the industry, you need to first understand how it is measured. That means understanding Net Promoter Score®, or NPS®: a leading means of measuring customer experience that is used to predict business growth across many industries.

Get the DL on NPS

NPS is derived by asking customers one simple question: “How likely is it you would recommend us to a friend?” Customers answer on a 0–10 scale, and then based on the score they assigned your business, they are either a “promoter” (9 or 10), a “passive” (7–8) or a detractor (0–6). To receive your final score, take the overall percentage of promoters and subtract the percentage of overall detractors. The resulting percentage is your company’s NPS.  

Staffing firms see a direct correlation between NPS®, retention and referrals.

While you might think, “Isn’t a 7 or 8 pretty good?”, when it comes to customers service, it really isn’t. If someone isn’t willing to give you a 9 or a 10, they don’t love your company, and something gave them enough hesitation to bump you down a few notches. That’s why having an NPS above 30% is considered “above average” (think: Costco, Aldi, Samsung, LG, Gucci and Victoria’s Secret), and a score above 50% is considered “exceptional” (think: Southwest, Zappos, Trader Joe’s, Amazon, Chick-Fil-A). If you can achieve an NPS above 70% (think: Nordstrom, Tesla, Starbucks or Apple), your customer experience is considered “world class”!

So, where does the staffing industry net out with Net Promoter Score? Unfortunately, the results aren’t pretty.

Candidates: Likelihood to Recommend Working with Primary Staffing Firm

Looking at the chart from a 2017 industry benchmark joint study between Inavero and CareerBuilder, we see a 21% NPS from placed candidates according to the most recent available data, which isn’t terrible by itself. When you look at the NPS of all applicants, however, the NPS for staffing firms falls to a troublingly low -30%. Clearly, the industry has an engagement problem. This must be addressed for if staffing businesses are to succeed.

It’s Time to Shift the Paradigm

When applicants are having a bad experience, your firm may or may not hear about it… but you can be sure their friends won’t hear anything good about your firm. And, given that your business depends to some extent on referrals to survive, that’s not great. You’re missing out on new, enthusiast candidates coming into your pipeline, and you’re also missing out on the opportunity to redeploy candidates to future assignments if they don’t enjoy working with you the first time around.

The good news in all of this is that something can be done… and the fix doesn’t have to require a ton of time from you or your team to implement. The right automation strategy can both enhance your candidates’ engagement and boost the efficiency of various aspects of your operation in the process.

From the moment they begin filling out the initial application through their experience interviewing, screening, onboarding and even post-hire, candidates should feel engaged and as though their feelings matter to your company.

  • To some extent, the user experience can be made more positive simply through good design—by providing an easy-to-use mobile interface, displays of progression through stages, simple scheduling and automated reminders, for instance.  
  • Ongoing communication is the other major factor that can improve the candidate experience. Provide constant messaging to prevent drop-off, ask for feedback to refine and improve, provide post-offer updates, send an encouraging “Day 1” note, measure satisfaction to identify promoters, and ask for all-important referrals!

Yes, the staffing industry’s collective NPS is low, but with the right tools and procedures in place, yours doesn’t have to be. We created the new EmployStream Engage module to put the power to create a personalized candidate experience in your hands, and we’d love to show you how it works! Start turning applicants and placed candidates alike into your greatest promoters today.