Brands with world-class customer service could be victims of their own success. Failing to provide the same  experience for candidates, and the disparity between the two, is losing some brands millions of dollars each year. Virgin Media was one of them, however they plan to make it a revenue stream...

A typical year of recruiting at Virgin Media means receiving around 150,000 applications, which translates into hiring around 3,500 people.

In 2015, unfortunately that also equated to upsetting over 7,500 customer applicants enough to motivate them to cancel their contracts and sign up with competitors instead.

These numbers were internally and externally validated and estimated to be worth over $6 million of lost revenue each year.

Virgin Media is an amazing brand and its reaction to discovering this insight was brave and bold; and not unlike what you might expect from any 'Branson business'.

When we (my digital marketing agency, Ph.) met their team after helping them to uncover the truth about their loss-making recruitment process, the challenge was simple: 'Make us famous for candidate experience.' This challenge quickly led to posing this new question: 'What if your candidate experience was so positive that it created new customer acquisition opportunities from the people we engaged with?'

Before thinking about a new $7 million revenue stream from the 89 percent of people applying for a job at Virgin Media that were not currently customers, we needed to establish a commitment to 100 percent of job applicants and neutralize the current loss-making situation.

The first new commitment was to make every single job applicant to Virgin Media more employable having experienced its recruitment process - whether they work for Virgin Media or not.

The second, thought up by Graeme Johnson (Virgin Media Head of Resourcing) was to be the good guys of recruitment and become world-famous for a positive candidate experience.

Here are six steps that outline how we're doing it with them:

1. Research, understand and love every persona of your audience

Empathize with and love your audience personas so you can design an authentic experience to suit them and build real brand loyalty because you care. With this insight, you can later design rewards and incentives that translate into new revenue generating opportunities.

2. Quantify and measure your current situation

Understand the current cost of your candidate experience so you can benchmark and set a goal you can measure.

3. Map your current candidate experience

Map each step in the experience in two ways.

First, by considering:

  1. How do your candidates feel?
  2. What are your candidates thinking?
  3. How easy is it to progress?
  4. What is the current lasting memory?

Second, by considering the environment:

  1. What are the current location and parameters of the event?
  2. Who in your team is present and accountable?
  3. What technology is being used?

4. Storyboard a new experience

You can build a new process by making a new list, but you can't create a new experience with rational logic alone. Storyboarding a 'scene' is much more valuable.

By representing each step of your 'process' as a 'scene' in a story or film you can start to convert it to a more emotional, experience oriented event.

So, Draw out the scene of each candidate experience and be clear on its purpose. Using the information mapped earlier, design each scene to improve how the candidate is feeling, control what they're thinking, make it easier to progress and make it a more memorable occasion.

You need to consider:

Adding efficiencies and convenience

  1. How can you make it easier for the candidate to progress?
  2. How can you fast track candidates for new opportunities as they arise?
  3. How can you centralize and streamline meaningful communications so people feel in control, more organized and better informed?
  4. What steps can be cut out?

Sprinkle the magic

  1. How can you create a magical moment to remember?
  2. How can you make your candidate feel better prepared?
  3. How can you make your candidate feel more confident?
  4. What communication can be added to demonstrate you care?
  5. What unexpected value can you add at the most unexpected time?
  6. How can you ensure enthusiasm is maintained throughout the process?
  7. How can you reward and celebrate progress?

5. Measure your candidate experience in real-time

More often than not, the moment of truth with customer service is not when something is delivered well, but when you're dealing with something that's gone wrong.

Embrace the problems but commit to reacting quickly, in real-time. Correct mistakes and reduce the inevitable discomfort caused during any recruitment process.

6. Frame commercial offers well during a truly empathetic experience and win new business

The vast majority of your job applicants are unlikely to be customers. If you test and measure the introduction of commercial offers, rewards and genuine brand benefits then acquiring new customers is a simple matter of testing what works best.

Virgin Media has designed a robust experience and plans to completely reverse a loss-making situation into a potential new revenue generating opportunity; all by putting the people that matter, the candidates, first.

So far, the progress is on track and looking good. I think they might just pull it off and who would bet against them? Not me.