In an age when our customers’ satisfaction is at the forefront of everything we do (but let’s be honest: when hasn’t it been?), and their opinions are more easily aired than ever thanks to the uncomfortable immediacy of social media, it can be a daunting prospect to keep all bases covered when attempting to optimise customer service. Companies often take one of two approaches to this conundrum: bury their heads in the sand, pretending there’s nothing there, or tackle the subject head on.

New homes recruitment specialist Maitland Selwyn unequivocally chose the latter, and embarked on a ‘back to basics’ approach; looking at their entire service offering and having it comprehensively evaluated by those that matter the most: it’s clients. As a precursor to its marketing strategy for 2016 – including a complete overhaul of the company’s website – extensive one-to-one interviews with its most important clients were conducted, to gain the fullest understanding possible of their perceptions on the company’s brand, its offering, and its service levels.

Commenting on the strategy Maitland Selwyn managing director, Chris Haley, comments: “Sometimes you just have to take a reality check. I know  we’re not perfect, but it’s our clients’ satisfaction that is most important.”

Over a six week period, a significant portion of Maitland Selwyn’s client database was consulted for feedback on many of the company’s specialisms: how good is the quality of candidates put forward? How should the company improve its services? How well is customer service received generally? How well known is the extent of the company’s offering? How do they rate the quality of the head office team and its managers?

All bases were covered in a comprehensive assessment of the company and its staff, and the feedback was incredibly valuable, both for reinforcing the parts that are done well, but also for highlighting where improvements were needed.

Amongst the responses were some interesting highlights; Maitland Selwyn were unanimously praised for the efficiency of their response, and for the service given to clients by their office staff and managers. The company was also praised for the implementation of its services.

There were, however some key criticisms, that provided significant insight for areas of improvement; many respondents were aware only of provision for temporary and permanent sales staff, and unaware of additional services available from Maitland Selwyn, such as staff training, market research and mystery shopping. Indeed, some were surprised to learn of these additional services, and suggested they could well need them in future.

Of all the feedback gained, the most concerning centred on the quality of candidates provided by Maitland Selwyn. There was a pervading feeling that, there was much room for improvement generally for temporary staff within the industry, with many also conceding that the developers themselves held responsibility for this in some aspects, such as poor handovers or lack of briefing. As discussions progressed, a need for greater supply of skilled sales personnel on-site became a permeating theme.

As a result, Maitland Selwyn is ramping up its efforts to assist the company and the industry in the training and preparation for sales professionals. Mystery shopping training for its own staff is ongoing and with a need for new recruits in the industry Maitland Selwyn is actively recruiting. So far this year six training courses for new recruits have been conducted and more are planned for the year; they provide a comprehensive insight into the day-to-day role of a new homes sales negotiator, opening the door for many salespeople to embark on previously unconsidered career options.

As part of the outcome of the research, recommendations were also made about how Maitland Selwyn could better market itself and its brand, to ensure maximum exposure and customer satisfaction. As a result, investment has been placed to enhance the company website, as well as embarking on a campaign of increased social media activity.

Speaking candidly on the impact the customer research has had on the business, Chris Haley commented: “It made us sit up and listen. For all the good things we do, people always remember the negatives first. So, it’s about more attention to detail, better quality temporary staff and more monitoring and investment in the people – because it’s the people that really matter”.

Maitland Selwyn continues to take its approach to optimum customer service and satisfaction very seriously, and encourages both its clients and candidates to be forthcoming and honest with feedback on any aspect of its operation.