Is ‘Commission’ Becoming a Dirty Word?

‘We don’t work for commission, we work for you’

Walking through my local branch of the UKs largest electrical retailer you couldn’t escape that statement. It was printed on every price tag and every poster.

Flip this and you may think that if they worked for commission then they wouldn’t be working in your best interests.

Cross the road and enter one of the UKs largest mobile phone retailers. In their literature you’ll read…

‘This year we also made a big change to our Retail Reward Scheme; we scrapped our commission-based pay structure and introduced our new pay deal, which encourages better team-working, and more emphasis on providing great customer service’

Flip this and you may think that working on a commission-based pay structure does not encourage team working and an emphasis on greater customer service.

I’ve also noticed a growing tendency for financial services businesses to start advertising the fact that their staff do not receive commission…

…and I have sat in many client presentations where the fact that I was not remunerated by commission has been a big positive for the client.

Regular readers of this blog will know I believe that rewarding purely for sales achievements as opposed to providing a great service and experience has driven poor practices and behaviours in the recruitment industry.

Now it would appear that leading businesses in other sectors may be thinking about how commission based rewards affect behaviours…and seeing a no commission approach as giving them a competitive advantage.

So is ‘commission’ becoming a dirty word?

How can you provide an impartial, collaborative, customer centric service whilst incentivising individuals with commission?

Does a no commission policy give you a competitive advantage?

Let me know what you think…

When Sorry Seems To Be The Easiest Word

I was on the receiving end of some poor customer experience at the weekend. The word ‘sorry’ was used, but in such a gratuitous, throwaway manner that it actually made the experience worse.

And having had many debates around the candidate experience within recruitment I was interested to see the parallels with other commercial sectors.

My conclusion, not unsurprisingly, was…bad experience sucks! However it’s delivered, a bad experience makes you want to shout and scream, tell everyone you know about it, and never use that business again.

And ‘sorry’ is a word that is often rendered meaningless by the way it’s delivered.

Here’s what happened. It was a simple, everyday shopping situation…

1)      Went in to a local branch of a major bookstore to buy a specific greeting card from a range I had been looking at the day before.

2)      Range wasn’t there. Was told that the range had not sold well so had been moved to stock to be replaced by another range. Asked if someone could go to stock and get me the one I wanted and was told that no-one could.

3)      Chose a different card and joined a queue (in third place) to pay.

4)      Two more joined behind me prompting a second sales person to come over and help out (wearing a t-shirt saying ‘Christmas Helper’). This sales person started serving from the back of the queue, ignoring the people who had been waiting the longest.

5)      When it was pointed out that she had ignored the people waiting the longest she said, without even turning to look properly at us…

Sorry, I didn’t see you there

(not sure what their training is, but if she missed a queue of five people I suggest that she’s not cut out for this line of work)

6)      To make things worse, when I did get served I was given the wrong change. The till had been closed so I had to wait until the ‘Christmas Helper’ had finished a long transaction at the other till before getting my correct change. I told her of my frustrations and she said…

I’ve already said sorry, what more do you want

7)      I replied…

A gratuitous ‘sorry’ doesn’t make a bad experience better

So next time a candidate applies for a role and…

–          The role has already been filled, or pulled, or put on hold, or never existed

–          The CV isn’t a good match

–          The candidate has made attempts to get you and not heard back…

–          …or keeps applying and no-one tells them that they are unsuitable

Then an auto e-mail saying thank you for your CV, if you don’t hear from us within 14 days you can assume that you are unsuitable for the position is very frustrating and not very informative…

…a message ignored is disrespectful

…and a

‘sorry, what’s your name? I can’t seem to find you here can you send it in again’

…is a very bad experience.

As I said before, bad experience sucks…and every person who interacts with your business and goes away with a negative impression is someone who may well shout and scream, and tell everyone about it.

What are you doing to make sure that all your customers, clients and candidates are having a good experience??


Customer Experience and the Importance of Making People Feel Special

Every morning I stop on my way to the station to get a coffee…my Soya Latte is very much a part of my commute, even in summer! I have stopped for a couple of years at one particular coffee shop (Cafe Nero, for those in the UK) initially for their loyalty scheme which basically gives you every tenth coffee free – a free coffee every other Friday seemed like a good idea!

I say initially because they started charging extra for soya milk. Other coffee shops didn’t, but I stayed loyal. That was because I had got to know the 3 or 4 baristas who worked the morning shift. They were friendly, warm, engaging, always smiling and went out of their way not only take the time to indulge in some small talk but also (very important for coffee fans) they remembered what you liked to order. I was only in the shop a minute or two, but for that minute or two they made me, and no doubt anyone else stopping for a coffee, feel valued and important.

Now they probably didn’t earn much, and I don’t know what customer service training their company did, and they may have only done it to make a repetitive service sector job more interesting…but the thing is they got my custom because they made me feel special and valued, even though their product now was not the cheapest, and to be honest, the coffee was probably no better or worse than any other shop I could have gone to.

Now I’m not a master of suspense, and I’m writing in the past tense, so I’m sure that you can guess what’s coming next!

Yes…they’ve all moved on. One left completely to do something different, and the others were promoted to different branches. Unbelievably, management just let it all happen within a week or so…one week they were there, and within what seemed a few days there were different baristas.

And guess what…I don’t go there anymore. The new baristas most certainly did not make me feel special or valued. In fact, with possibly one exception, they made me feel the opposite, as if serving me was a chore. There were a couple of specific instances of rudeness and off-handedness (I won’t bore you with details) that made me think – enough is enough, I can get better value elsewhere.

When the experience is good, factors like cost can often come second…but when the customer experience is bad…

All businesses can learn from this, but I wonder how many of us really put their heads on the block and find out how we’re doing?

It reminded me of a customer satisfaction survey that I got handed on a plane on my way home from a holiday last year. The tour company usually performs well in independent reviews. The final question was…

 ‘Did we make you feel special on your holiday??

If so tell us what we did to make you feel special, and if not please tell us how we could have improved, to make you feel special.’

 Clearly they want to get feedback, and aren’t afraid to give their customers a voice to find out how they are really performing.

Which makes me wonder….

 Are there any recruiters out there brave enough to ask those questions of their clients and candidates?? Willing to find out from their community what they could do to create a special experience?