Got Customer?

I just spent two days in the Windy City coaching talent leaders on Strategic Talent Acquisition. We were on the 20th floor of the NBC Tower overlooking the lake… an office I could get used to in a second! It was a great diverse group from global pharma to high tech to national advertising. Despite the industry, one theme resonated across all… how do I lead strategically and shift the hiring team to do the same?

They all wanted to know… What are the hottest sourcing trends? To what level do I dig into workforce planning? What are the best interview questions?

To shift from the transactional to the strategic, we started at the very beginning with a targeted exercise defining exactly who the customers are and their true priority. With a heavy background in marketing, and a self-confessed process geek, I wholeheartedly believe that this is the best place to start.

I find that a lot of people jump right into the solution or the “how” without fully considering whom the customer really is; particularly when there is the distraction of the newest, shiniest recruiting app. As you know, whenever you work within an organization and are providing a service internally, the term “customer” can get thrown around in a pretty loosy, goosy way. The loudest and the squeakiest determine who is most important.

While at Starbucks, I had several critical and key stakeholders for all of our Talent programs and processes. While all these stakeholders or “customers” were all very important, they each had a different level of priority. Without clearly delineating priority, we would have ended up with solutions that were mediocre at best, only partially serving all of the customers.

To be clear about your top priority and really meet the customer’s needs, I encourage you to take the following steps:

1)    List any and all potential customers by the following type:

  1. Those who receive your product or service directly or frequently are your Primary Customers. They represent the largest revenue.
  2. Those who receive your product or service indirectly or infrequently are your Secondary Customers.
  3. Those who don’t receive the product or service, but largely influence the way it should be designed are your Influencers. For example, for recruiting, and Influencer is the OFCCP (Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs).

2)    Of all of your customers, check the ones that could leverage extreme consequences if their needs are not meant. These in concert with your Primary Customers get top consideration.

3)    Once you have finished the steps, do them all over with your team to gain alignment. Does everyone agree? Use the final, prioritized customer list to really drive your design and decision-making.

It was a fascinating exercise to see how even like-minded talent leaders had some healthy discussion and disagreement around who the customer is when it comes to Talent Acquisition and Management. When I asked how this exercise would work in their own organizations, they said they couldn’t wait to find out.

Let me know how it goes for you!

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One Comment on “Got Customer?”

  1. […] on Strategic Talent Acquisition to several global Talent Acquisition experts. We started with the customer in mind and then went straight to the heart of it… what does it mean to be strategic anyway? Particularly […]


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