Randstad CMO looks to technology to deliver human CX

Chief marketing officer at recruitment firm shares the strategy behind its new brand campaign, as well as how marketing automation and gamification technologies are helping bring much-needed customer experience excellence into the recruitment sector


Randstad Australia’s digital-first transformation program and new-look brand strategy are about tapping technology in order to give candidates a more human customer experience that’s severely currently lacking in the recruitment industry, its CMO says.

The boutique recruitment firm launched its ‘Human Forward’ brand campaign globally in November, based around demonstrating how technology can provide more human experiences. The campaign comes off the back of 12 months’ worth of digital investment designed to improve the way it interacts with potential candidates as well as clients.

‘Human Forward’ is based on three business pillars: Empowering people through innovation, making technology feel more human, and delivering a more human experience for clients and candidates.

Randstad Australia marketing chief, Trevor Lowder, told CMO the company historically sat in the world of high-touch HR and recruitment interaction. But it has struggled to position itself appropriately against the rapid rise of digital-first and highly automated disruptors such as Seek, Indeed and Jobcatch.

Yet while automation arguably makes the job search process easier than ever, recent research conducted by Randstad found candidates are not happy with the impersonal experience they deliver. According to its survey, 64 per cent of candidates are often frustrated with overly-automated job search experiences that lack the personal touch. Nearly one in four (71 per cent) also said they want to work with companies that use technology to enhance their experience while still focusing on the human connection.

“The journey we started as a business a few years ago is about using HR technology to give us more time to do what we used to do 10 years ago, which is be face-to-face with people,” Lowder said. “That’s the underlying strategy behind the brand campaign.

“It goes to solving a customer problem, which is that there’s frustration in the marketplace around candidates believing the whole process is too automated. A couple of million people in Australia apply for jobs every year. The majority of them don’t get a new job, but they never hear back for things they’ve applied for. A lot of frustration comes from the uncertainty that is associated with that.

“Our strategy is to use the best of technology to give the best customer experience.”

New technologies helping Randstad achieve this at the point of interaction are live chat and video job ads, plus automated resume tools that deal with churn activities, freeing up consultants to provide more value-add services, Lowder said.

“Locally, we’ve partnered with video interviewing platforms to allow us to be more human, but marry up the need to manage the demand with roles we fill now as well,” he said.  

Bringing marketing automation into the mix

With 100,000s of applicants per year and only 800 employees, marketing automation is another vital technology for Lowder.

“We’re striving to create relationships through a digital environment through marketing automation, as well as social and digital media channels. So when we do make a human connection point, it’s not a cold call,” he explained.  

It’s easy to roll out marketing automation into a big bucket, but bringing relevant content to people in real-time is where the challenge lies for most organisations, Lowder said. The key is good profiling.

“We use Marketo locally and in Asia-Pacific, and we’ve heavily invested to allow us to get real-time automation so we can feed the right information to you at the right time,” he said. “There’s no point flicking you the interview tips if you’re not going for an interview.”  

Randstad is also using marketing automation to better address the growing ‘gig economy’. It does this by providing content to potential candidates as their latest temp contract concludes, showing other roles in the pipeline.

“That allows us to continue the relationship with the candidate rather than lose contact,” Lowder commented.  

As a result of these changes, Randstad’s internal marketing team has had to become much more digitally focused, and digital specialists have been recruited.  

“More than 70 per cent of the team had been traditional media focused, and messaging within media and PR was very reliant on external communications,” Lowder said. “We’re now working to build a more rich content mix that builds its owned Web presence and rankings, but is also available for people when they look in real time.

“We’re moving towards more of an ecommerce approach to recruitment, where a lead is measured from end to end and we know the true value. As we say internally, there are no dead ends. Every candidate becomes of value to us.”  

Empathy is a core part of the CX puzzle, and Lowder claimed the recruitment industry as a whole has lost its understanding of how important a job change is in people’s lives.

“As a result, they’ve become quite flippant with candidate experience,” he said. “If we really understood how important jobs are in people’s lives, we’d take the interaction more seriously. That’s the journey we’re on to change.

“I spent my last 10 years at Unilever, where the customer is gold. In recruitment, 90 per cent of customers are no big deal. That mentality needs to change because it’s results in poor customer experience. Also, if you put more value on the customer, you start to understand the wastage in the system.”

Of course, there can be too much of a human element in any interaction, and for Lowder, the biggest problem is inherent recruitment bias in placing candidates. To overcome it, Randstad has struck a partnership with gamification startup, Pymetrics, to ensure it puts forward candidates based on skills rather than any bias that might be present. The gamified tool rates skills based on the candidate’s interaction with features, and forms a key part of the firm’s diversity inclusion policy.

Randstad’s new brand campaign has now been rolled out across 39 countries. As well as the research, it incorporates key video assets along with a content marketing plan to tell the story across multiple platforms. In the first two weeks, Lowder said website conversation rates have lifted 15 per cent.

“The most pleasing thing is that as part of commitment to the journey, we’ve started a dialogue loop with candidates where we’re asking questions and giving answers,” he added. “Not getting back to just one person is too many for us.”

Read more of CMO's case studies on marketing automation in action:

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