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Experience Designers Ep 6

(I use a mix of automated transcript software and editing for readability )

(I use a mix of automated transcript software and editing for readability )

Steve: [00:00:04] Hello Chris and welcome to the Experience Designer’s podcast.

 

Chris: [00:00:10] Thank you very much; pleasure to be here.

 

Steve: [00:00:12] And thank you for having me here in Zalando in Berlin.

 

Chris: [00:00:17] Yeah, no worries.

 

Steve: [00:00:18] It's definitely warmer than Stockholm!

 

Chris: [00:00:22] Well it’s a nice chilly minus five today.

 

Steve: [00:00:25] I think it was about minus eight in Sweden yesterday. It was freezing.  So yeah, I've been really excited about this conversation today, just because I think we're going to touch on a subject that's super-close to my heart, which is around candidate experience. So just for the audience, just an intro into you and your role and what you do.

 

Chris: [00:00:47] My name's Chris Raw. I look after candidate experience at Zalando, amongst other things. I guess I was one of those classic cases of falling into recruitment. I used to be a farmer actually, funnily enough, so it was a very different lifestyle for me back in the day. After university, I came into recruitment and I had this passion for sourcing, and recognised quite early on that sourcing, or sourcing approaches, give very great candidate experiences because of the way that you approach and the right types of talent.  You have to make sure it's a great experience for them because you're approaching them.  That, sort of, set off my passion for looking at more experience design.  Also, a passion for HR technology has led me into the role that I'm in now.

 

Steve: [00:01:40] You have one of the best titles I've come across actually. When we first connected, I think it was via Katrina Collier actually…

 

Chris: [00:01:45] Oh right, okay.

 

Steve: [00:01:48] I was quite jealous about your title actually because if I was to ever work within an organisation permanently, that would be the role I'd want, which is Candidate Experience & Innovation Manager, is that correct?

 

Chris: [00:02:02] Yeah. Thanks for that. It's not something I came up with; you can thank Paul Maxin for that who used to be the VP of Talent Acquisition here. I guess the role is two-fold. I'm a business analyst for the business looking at candidate experience data. We measure the candidate experience through a survey to candidates from certain points of the process, whether they get an offer or don't get an offer. That's one part.

 

[00:02:34] Then I use the other part of the role to look at how we enable innovation through different processes, or looking at journey mapping to influence where pain points are for our customers. We try to put differences in by working with the recruitment team, working with the employer branding team, or even working with our technology stack, to make sure that we've got the right pieces of tech in there that enable the candidate to have the best experience possible.

 

Steve: [00:03:02] Amazing! I’ve got some questions for that, okay.

 

Chris: [00:03:04] Okay.

 

Steve: [00:03:05] So let's break that down, measuring the candidate experience.

 

Chris: [00:03:08] Yeah.

 

Steve: [00:03:09] Still challenging for some people, I find.

 

Chris: [00:03:12] Yes.

 

Steve: [00:03:14] Just tell us a little bit about that journey. I guess, Chris we need to measure the candidate experience at Zalando, through to then implementing and creating it and then embedding that into the business. How did you go about that?

 

Chris: [00:03:29] First of all, we've only started measuring it for the past year and a half to two years. We'd already started to talk about measuring the candidate experience long before I was put into this position. We have a people analytics team, which also measure the employee experience, so it made sense to also have a candidate experience survey. They worked with the recruitment team to define a set list of questions, which are aligned to what we define as our four core values and those are: clarity, seamlessness, assessment quality, and interaction quality. We also couple those values with the classic NPS question and also a satisfaction question, which is measured in what we call a CSAT score.

 

[00:04:25] We'd been sending that survey out to candidates who had finished the process with us, and it almost slices and dices how we can look at certain candidate groups. For example, many people measure NPS as a core metric. NPS is great but it's a loyalty metric so it means that you have to dig further. You can't just go, okay, how was your experience? Oh well, it was 9 out of 10. Great, okay so that's good. But if someone says it's 4 out of 10. Okay so we know that it's bad but where do we look? So you need to also have questions which support NPS as well, especially when it comes down to change

 

Steve: [00:05:11] Yes. I found your approach really interesting, Just taking some of the learning from the customer experience industry, and they tend to be obviously far more advanced and were using NPS for many years, there's an approach where I think…what I really liked about Zalando’s approach was how you set your own values internally, what you're going to maintain, rather than be led by necessarily what the candidate feedback was saying. Sometimes you do NPS and then you look for your themes, which naturally you did from the feedback. But I really like the approach where you said, no this is how we're going to behave, this is how we're going to deliver a great experience internally first and built it inside out. Does that make sense?

 

Chris: [00:05:52] Yes. We do listen to the candidates as well in terms of comments and things like that.  They add the reality of what happens, I think. But like you said, you've got to stay true to what you've defined as being the core values. We have other values on top of that, which I'll talk about a little bit later. But I think we still need to create these insights from candidates, whether that's through survey or whether that's through workshops with former candidates, so we can develop these insights to create solutions for the future, but it really depends on where your problem areas are. For example, in these survey results it could be that interaction quality is down and that could mean that you're not giving feedback on a more regular basis, or perhaps the interaction quality with the interviewers wasn’t hitting all the notes as it should be.

 

[00:06:56] Sometimes the comments can tell you these things and that adds a little bit more context to some of the changes that you might want to do, but it also gives you that…it's quite powerful to tell people who are involved in the process. With any storyline or any…if you think about a movie, a good movie has got a good storyline, you follow it as you watch, as a journey, but it's also got a star of the show, which is the candidate. It's also got other actors, supporting actors, cameos, which are the people who make the process, whether that's the recruiter, whether it's the interviewer, whether it’s the hiring manager. If they don't interact well then it’s not going to be a good film is, it? This is the way that we try to look at things and look at how we, I guess, see points of view from all of those different angles, to then be able to support them and enable the the right experience for the star of the show, which is the candidate.

 

Steve: [00:07:59] Yeah. You built out a dashboard as well of some sort, just with some traffic light…I saw the little traffic lights and stuff. Just elaborate on that and how you’ve used that internally within the business.

 

Chris: [00:08:13] I mean it's an optional thing to use. We don't push it so much but it’s there as a tracker. For example, a recruiter could have a problem with speed in their recruitment process; the data might be telling them that from the tool that we use. They can go and investigate that further and come up with, I don't know, one action that they will take to try and change this. Then they will look at trying to see how that influences the NPS score, or the CSAT score, later on down the line. For example, it could be that they find out that they've got a problem with speed in the process. They investigate further using the data, and when they look at the funnel, it could be that the hiring manager is holding on to CVs because they might have been on holiday or something like that. So they can put in a change. It could be a simple change like the hiring manager having a ‘delicate’ for reviewing CVs for a particular position if they're away on a trip or something like that. It could be something as simple as that or it could be something quite complicated. The scorecard is there to enable the recruiters to make simple changes to their own processes. Whereas the more complicated changes are the things that, I guess, affect all recruiters, or all recruitment processes, and will be explored more in a workshop, design thinking journey, kind of, way.

 

Steve: [00:09:46] Fantastic. I think there's lots of recruiters out there who would really value some kind of insights like that, even at that micro level because that helps them influence, ultimately… if it's a particular hiring manager issue, then you can come armed with some data and some really good credible feedback to then influence, or to have that conversation.

 

Chris: [00:10:11] Yeah. And I think generally in the recruitment industry, or talent acquisition industry, we're talking about this movement from transactional recruiter to talent advisor model, which has been talked about a lot. I think recruiters can get there quite easily. It's just their ability to be able to consume data and be able to tell stories with it is going to be the key to being able to move towards that type of advisor model. And I think certainly candidate experience plays a big part in that going forward. I’m a big believer in that you have two sets of metrics. You have experience metrics, which are the NPS, the CSAT scores, but also perhaps some of the value metrics that you get from sending surveys out. That tells a story when you talk to a hiring manager about if it's a bad experience or even if it's a good experience.

 

[00:11:08] To fix some of those things, you actually have to start looking at the transactional data, things like time, speed, quality, how many people are getting through the funnel at certain stages, how many silver medallists do you have later on. I think the next challenge that we've got is how do we maximise the amount of silver medallists, or how do we recycle candidates through other processes in a better way? Ultimately, I think, and it'll be the same with many organisations, you have a set amount of hires per year but actually you get through a lot more candidates than that.

 

[00:11:52] This whole mantra of candidates or customers, well it's very true. I think if you don't believe that then you're missing the trick because I think there’s many, many benefits to treating candidates well. I think what we need to move away from is actually thinking that it's just this one-off application. The candidate experience starts much, much before anyone else thinks, and it's on an individualised basis; it’s when that person interacts with the brand for the first time.

 

Steve: [00:12:24] Yeah, I agree. And so does your work extend all the way up to that funnel. You talked about some of the work cross-functional with employer brand earlier on. So do you go right the way up to, perhaps, the top of the awareness stage in the funnel?

 

Chris: [00:12:39] Yeah. I guess going back to how I ended up in this position. I was a sourcer at Zalando and what I'd realised was that you…the way German data law works is different to perhaps other countries and you basically have shorter time to keep up with relationships. So we had a need to have a CRM system, or at least a few use cases. I built those use cases out as a side project to my job and then tried to go out and change the way we hired. That process took a longer period of time than expected, mainly because GDPR issues and things like this, but that was what led me into the candidate experience role.

 

[00:13:31] That enabled me to work with the employer branding team to look at what kind of content is relevant. And this goes back to some of the other values that we have at Zalando about candidate experience. One of them is relevancy, so talking about personalisation. Using personas to make sure that the content that you deliver, or the promises that you deliver to candidates are something that's going to be relevant and something for them to take up.

 

[00:14:00] That's how I've worked with the employer branding team further up the funnel. But I would say the main body of work, 80%, is really in the recruitment team. It's where a lot of things have the tendency to go good, bad or ugly. So I think that's, again, why we put so much effort into measuring the experience. Then we are able to tell a story, know whether it's good or not, and then put something right if it's not right.

 

Steve: [00:14:34] You mentioned earlier as well about obviously measuring. Then there's the other bit, which I'm really interested in, is about what what's come out of it. What kind of themes did you recognise started to come out? I think hiring manager was potentially one of those. I'd like to also explore the whole Guild kind of stuff as well. What were some of the key themes that you guys identified are much higher level, that you thought from a process or operational point of view we need to tackle.

 

Chris: [00:15:06] Before you tackle a journey, I think it's always good to know who your customers are, and in this case it’s the candidate. So we're trying to improve the experience of the candidate. I'm a big believer in, if you're going to deliver a great experience, you've also got to understand the experience of the recruiter, the hiring manager, and the interviewer, and that's, kind of, what we try to do. We've done it more with the hiring manager I would say than necessarily the recruiter experience, or the interviewer experience, but that'll get tackled in the next 12 months. So we would look at the experience from those points of view.

 

[00:15:53] For example, from a candidate experience point of view, we would usually do a journey mapping exercise. So we partnered with our business and did this design thinking workshop, and we explored some of the insights, the likes and dislikes and emotions at different points in the stage. So first of all, you map out your journey, so which are the main stages as well. We looked at certainly the job search stage. And then we looked at the application process. Then what we realised, when you walk through the candidate shoes in real time, what actually happens is you end up waiting a lot of the time. So we actually added waiting stages in between all of those stages because it's actually the reality of what happens for the candidate.

 

Steve: [00:16:45] Yeah, moments between the moments.

 

Chris: [00:16:48] Then there's the interview process, then there’s the offer, and then there's on-boarding. Those are the main stages that we tackled. I guess when you go through that process, you can find lots of insights, lots of emotions generated. But generally speaking, what we saw was candidates actually are not that attached to having recruiter contacts, or human contact, in the first stages of the process. They're looking for a more seamless experience there.

 

[00:17:22] A good example is I land on a job search, I do a job search. I want to get the right job. I want to be able to get to the right job first. So that's one element of it. And then it's I want to read the job advert and then get the clarity that I need to be able to apply. And then after that it becomes more does the CV upload work. Is that working properly? It could be something simple like that. These are little things that candidates might moan about but they're not that important. They will still push through them when they rank them against something like an offer stage. And this is what we’ve found out. Waiting became actually something that they recognised as being something where we needed to improve. Actually I think that's just generally an industry thing. I think it's easy to forget about candidates when you're focusing on lots of different things in the recruitment process, especially when you're pushing people through a pipeline or short listing, or keeping candidates on hold. That classic stage that used to cause all sorts of reporting problems with the ATSs, where you find this hidden bunch of candidates in a process.

 

[00:18:43] Fast forwarding to the other end of the process, when it starts to get more business end, being invited for an interview, that's where they expect a lot more human contact. They actually prefer a more consultative approach from the recruiter. Also, they expect a level of cohesion on the interview day. I think this is one of the things where, if you're a company that does multiple interviews on a day, it is so important to get that cohesion right and make sure that things are all seamless on the day. They also expect that interaction quality, interviewers to be well-prepared, know what they're talking about, but also be able to ask challenging questions that are relevant to the job. There's a lot of work that we do with our interviewing teams and hiring managers to make sure that the questions they ask are challenging but also relevant as well.

 

Steve: [00:19:42] How did you tackle that? In terms of enabling or providing people with the tools to be able to do that, what kind of activities or what kind of solutions did you create to help support that part of the experience?

 

Chris: [00:20:02] Just to rewind a little bit. We also did the hiring manager journey and we did that through like focus group-style interviews, like one on one, so we could get to the real issues of their problems or what their pain points were. Then what we did was we mapped that out and then overlaid it over the top of the candidate journey. Then we had to see where there were overlaps and then that told us where to fix first. For example, when we look at expected excellence, where the hiring manager expects excellence from us, it was the briefing process because obviously that sets the tone of how the recruitment project is going to go. So they wanted a more conservative approach at that point. That became quite an important part for the candidate as well because if we don't get the briefing part right then we're going to promise them something that is not there. So it's important to make sure that we set the guidelines there.

 

[00:21:11]. I think the main stage that we saw where there was huge overlap was the interview. The interview was something that they both saw, I guess, where moments that matter occurs, or at least in the most important ones.  When you think about it from the candidate's point of view, it's probably the first human contact that they've had. When you think about it like that, then everyone who is part of that business has to be living and breathing the business because that's also what the candidate expects. It's a two-way street and I think that's what many people forget. It goes back to one of the metrics that we would probably look at including next year, which is looking at customer effort score.

 

Steve: [00:22:02] Yeah, I agree.  It’s a good one.

 

Chris: [00:22:07] Customer effort score is looking at how much effort that person has to go through at that stage. Let’s take the interview stage for example. You have a candidate that's got high effort because they want to impress. You've got a recruiter that wants to have a good performance on that vacancy, so their effort score is very high. The hiring manager obviously has a high effort score or should do because it's their vacancy. They know that there are other team members in their team working hard to cover that empty desk.

 

[00:22:47] Then the interviewer maybe is not so much a high effort score. Often from a pool of interviewers, they get pulled in from different expertise, so they might not be hiring someone for their particular area. They might be coming from the reality of the day-to-day business, coming out of a meeting. Actually for them to really perform, we have to enable them to have the right information in the right format so that they take that information and be able to digest it, and then still give that great performance or great brand experience at the interview stage.

 

Steve: [00:23:24] Yeah, super important. I think certainly that human first contact is often underrated actually and perhaps sometimes that transactional thing kicks in. You might have multiple telephone interviews booked in a day, and just to make sure the values as a recruiter, working in talent, you have that very much in your mind constantly at that first point of contact.

 

Chris: [00:23:47] Oh totally!

 

Steve: [00:23:48] That’s super important. Tell me about some of the solutions you guys built out from some of the insights. What are some of the activities and initiatives that this thing kicked off and you started to work on?

 

Chris: [00:24:04] Yeah some of the solutions. We built solutions for both candidate and hiring manager. I alluded to one a little bit before, going a bit off topic. The briefing stage was something that we redesigned. So for example, we looked at what we now call a strategy meeting because if you think about how it's traditionally been called in the past, recruitment intake, intake meeting…

 

Steve: [00:24:34] Job order.

 

Chris: [00:24:35] Yeah, job order, it’s just like…

 

Steve: [00:24:37] I’m placing an order for a job.  That’s great!

 

Chris: [00:24:45] The language doesn't set everything off on the right tone. So we changed it to strategy meeting. There's a lot of information there but we make it so the recruiter can take and leave what they want because ultimately, we want to empower them to be able to control what happens. But there's also this element now where we take data to the first meeting. We will, ideally, bring the experience data, we’ll bring the transactional recruitment data, so things like time to hire, what the lead-in times per stage usually from the last time we hired this vacancy. So in the last 12 months, we've built out that functionality.

 

[00:25:27] Our head of recruitment has done a marvellous job in being able to visualise the data and in a pretty much real time, kind of, way. So we have monitors around the recruitment team office now, where you can see for your job family where how many candidates are at certain stages and different things like this. We're very, very data-driven now, much more than we were before. I think that's something that we take to the briefing meeting now, or the strategy meeting. It's not just that, it's also taking CVs that we've been able to generate from our talent pools, from our CRM, or whether there's some people that we might have be keeping warm for this particular vacancy once it comes up. So we're able to control a conversation with the hiring manager rather than…traditionally how I remember it 10 years ago when I first started in-house recruitment, it was more you did take the order, didn't you?

 

Steve: [00:26:38] You did!

 

Chris: [00:26:39] It was just like, okay.

 

Steve: [00:26:40] If you've got a date in the diary that was the golden egg, wasn’t it?

 

Chris: [00:26:45] What kind of sauce would you like with that?  It, kind of, felt like that experience. I think generally it's changed now and I think it's got to change if you want to be seen as this true business partner. That's the feedback that we had from hiring managers, where they spoke about this need for a consultative approach in recruitment. And I think we all have that. I think definitely what helps that is bringing data to the table and being able to tell stories from that.

 

Steve: [00:27:20] What was the perspective from the recruiters of the hiring managers? The hiring managers wanted more consultative. What did the recruiters want of the hiring managers, just out of interest?  Was there anything from that?

 

Chris: [00:27:30] I don't think we captured that, but I can I can imagine what…I think, like with anything, we're very time-conscious here because of the amount of hires that we have to make. And I think that can erode away some of the working style sometimes because of the way that we have to hire. We hire 3,000 people a year here. We've got quite a large recruitment team, and I think the opportunity to have those touch points with the hiring manager, we have to really commit to them. And I think sometimes the hiring managers were probably non-committal sometimes, I would say.

 

[00:28:16] But I think this is all about a relationship process and building relationships. I think, again going back to the changes that we made, being able to bring better data to the argument will help create these more trusting relationships with hiring managers. The relationships between recruiter and hiring manager here are great. It's just that how do you take that to the next level? That's what we're always looking to try and do, and hopefully some of these changes will do that. That's the first big change that we did.

 

[00:28:50] The second was, I guess, looking at scheduling. Scheduling was a big change. It wasn't necessarily part of the work stream that we did, but scheduling is complicated when you add many diaries to the mix, especially at more senior level hires for example. To try and get diary time between five vice presidents who might be interviewing on the day could just be two or three of them. Obviously business takes place, other business meetings and things like this and that becomes complicated. I think implementing a tool, like a scheduling tool is one of the things that we did last year, which I think saw some of the best results that I've seen in trials and things like that. So yeah, scheduling tools have helped. That's when we've implemented a bit of technology.

 

Steve: [00:29:52] Which tool did you go for?

 

Chris: [00:29:56] We went for GoodTime.

 

Steve: [00:29:59] Yeah they’re good.

 

Chris: [00:30:01] When you pick tools, it's usually dictated by what you've already got. If you want to have a plug in and play strategy, you really have to have something that's easily connected to. So we use Greenhouse as an ATS. One of the best experiences I've had working at Zalando is being able to work with our tech team. Certainly working with people like Chung and Zhou, who've helped us build on top of Greenhouse APIs, whether it's anything from products like building anonymization, to logics, or whether it's an app for candidates to see where they are in the process. These are some of the things that we've done and self-built. I think when we look at like tech stack, to truly get a great experience, I think a blend of bought tech and built tech is the best combo, if you can make them fit together.

 

Chris: [00:31:17] Again going back to measuring the experience, when we look at seamlessness and the improvement that GoodTime has had on that, it’s quite vast in the period of time on the group that we did it for. And I know we've got plans to roll out further next year. But going from that to looking at things like…perhaps something that's more important than anything else is the offer stage and the onboarding stage. So we've looked at trying to improve the offer process in different ways and just making it more streamlined…

 

Steve: [00:32:13] Were there any particular challenges that you’ve identified in that particular touchpoint?

 

Chris: [00:32:22] The scale of business that we have is generally stuff to do with communication and contract creation and details being correct and things like this. Generally, I think when you scale as a business, like we've grown 25% roughly, year on year for the last four years I’ve been here…Zalando is a little bit like a teenager with growing pains, I would say. It’s probably the right age now. It's a wonderful company to work for because we’re innovating all the time; we're changing all the time. One of my colleagues Manjoori, who heads up the tech recruitment team here said, “We eat change for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” and it's very, very true.

 

[00:33:21] I think certainly the offer process is quite a delicate moment to manage because I think there's high emotion at that point and there’s high stress. A candidate has got what they wanted and now they want the contract so they can set the ball rolling on other other parts of their life. Then also the relocating people as well, so that becomes something.

 

[00:33:49] And certainly what I see is the business end of the stage, which is the stage that people call pre-boarding. It starts from where the offer is made, all the way through to their first day of the onboarding, and what happens during that period is actually so crucial. So there's a lot of keeping in touch with candidates and making sure that it doesn't go silent. I know that we've made some changes to our onboarding process as well, to make sure that it's a little bit more standardised as we've grown as well. That's been really important for us

 

Steve: [00:34:24] Yeah. Someone on a three-month notice period, their current employer has got 12 weeks to chip away emotionally. And it happens, buybacks and counters, as we know. To start to bring them into the Zalando family or team earlier in the process the better, just with that regular contact or interactions.

 

Chris: [00:34:47] Yeah. And certainly I've seen that space evolve, especially when it comes to technology recently. There's some great tools out there, which utilise this idea of nudging. I think, ultimately, we're all busy people and sometimes the nudges can help us to do the most important things on time and really be there for the candidate. I think that's something that I see developing in the future as well.

 

Steve: [00:35:19] I think there was an Australian tool that's making some waves, Onboardy, I think it’s OnBoardy.

 

Chris: [00:35:24] Yeah, I think there’s one, I forgot the name of it now. HROnboard I think is one that I know of from Australia. Enboarder is the one I've seen recently.

 

Steve: [00:35:33] Enboarder, yes that's the one.

 

Chris: [00:35:39] That’s interesting. I know you can try that out on their website just by putting your number in and it actually works really well. So yeah, points for them.

 

[00:35:54] There are other things that we've done as well. We did a recent experience with a chat bot on our careers site.

 

Steve: [00:36:03] How‘s that been?

 

Chris: [00:36:04] It was interesting. We did the chat bot exercise for five to six weeks. We're probably going to extend it for a little bit longer, just, again, to learn from the experience. Ultimately what we did was we created a FAQs chat bot that lived on our career site and we just wanted to see how candidates interacted.

 

[00:36:30] I know we've spoken about this before about where you put your listening posts in the process to listen to candidate feedback. One of them we, kind of, slightly ignored a little bit is before people make an application. This is the perfect place for a FAQs bot to live because it can be a virtual careers assistant to the candidate and help them convert into an application if they get the right answer. So we spent a month I would say training the chat bot to speak our language, our tone of voice, and also with the right answers. We scaled the test in to a team of about 35 recruiters and recruiter coordinators, who spent two hours hammering the chat bot in different personas.

 

[00:37:20] Imagine you're a candidate who's about to apply for a job, what kind of questions would you ask? We were able to see how the chat bot performed based on the first initial training that we did, and then realised the more we trained it, the more it started to become more accurate. I think we ended up creating about 40 different categories of questions. So we were very well prepared. And then I think we had roughly about 70%, 72% accuracy for the trial period, which was good; we had lots of interactions.

 

[00:37:59] Again, going back to the candidates, to customers, we’re a very popular e-commerce brand in Europe, 24 million customers across, I think, 15 countries. So first of all, you will get customer-based questions, so where's my package. Something that we got, I would say, 1 in 10 questions.

 

Steve: [00:38:22] Interesting.

 

Chris: [00:38:25] I can't prove how much we would lose from giving bad experiences like some of the more famous case studies out there. But certainly there's definitely some truth in it because I think candidates or customers, they just see Zalando. They just see the brand. They don't care whether it's a careers bot; they just want an answer.

 

Steve: [00:38:50] Yeah.  That’s super interesting.

 

Chris: [00:38:53] But then what we realised from that was, okay, there's a demand for this question, let's create a category. So we created a category with the chat bot where we were able to redirect our customers back to the right place where to go. So actually it became a good experience for the customer as well. What this gave us was more interesting data; that about 60 - 70% of our questions were job discovery related. So now that's led us to look at job discovery and doing that through a chat bot in 2019.

 

Steve: [00:39:29] Yeah. Does that also drive some of the elements around some of the insights of the job actually available at the time as well rather than via a chat bot? Maybe they're asking the chat bot because it's not available on the street.

 

Chris: [00:49:40] Yeah, totally.

 

Steve: [00:39:41] It just feeds it the other way as well.

 

Chris: [00:39:43] That's something that we've been discussing in recent conversations about how we execute that. At the moment, the chat bot would only be able to tell what's on the job advert. You would have to store data somewhere else and host it somewhere else and the chat bot be able to interact with that data, to then be able to pull that. I think the challenge of doing that for 800 live jobs is very hard. So yes, in baby steps we'll look to try and achieve that, but the ultimate goal is to be able to deliver a personal experience to the power of one for any candidate. No matter whether they land on the careers’ home page or whether they land on the actual job page, they get the relevant questions at that moment in time. It goes back to my point about relevancy being, I think, the next tipping point for candidate experience and being able to go to the next level because ultimately that's what people want. When you ask a question, you expect the answer.

 

[00:40:45] One of the other things that I did notice from the chat bot, from the FAQs, just one little observation, when you tell people that it's a chat bot they treat it like dirt, or some people do. We've had many swear words. If it's kicked out the wrong answer, let's say because of a training issue, so we've had to go back and correct that and they've given feedback. I'm just thinking, what would you say that to someone's face? I think there's possibly a society problem about how we interact…

 

Steve: [00:41:26 ] The online demons come out.

 

Chris: [00:41:28] Yeah. I think when people hide behind a keyboard they can say things that they would never normally say. But also on the positive side of that, you might entice a wider, more diverse group of candidates to engage with you as an employer because it's easier to interact behind a keyboard. So I think there's a challenge to make candidate experiences personable to the power of one going forward, depending on what type of character people are as well.

 

[00:42:02] We're also looking at approaching for different subsets of candidate experience, so things like you know which channel did you come through? How do agencies give a great experience? If you’re looking at a diverse set of candidates, how do you design an experience for someone who might be blind or who’s deaf who wants to apply for a job. I think these types of questions will become more important in the future as well.

 

Steve: [00:42:29] Yeah, interesting. There needs to be some kind of module or bolt-on into the chat bot around managing people behaviour, or bad behaviour, or interactions, something to...

 

Chris: [00:42:40] Oh totally!  Chat’s been an interesting experience for me because I truly, truly believe that chat is the interface tool of the candidate, and if we can make chat interfaces interact better with the systems that we have. For example, without naming any providers out there, there are definitely better experiences than some others, ATS-wise and things like this. You can use chat bots to make that experience tighter, if it's not traditionally a great user experience going through a process with one of these providers. So I think chat bots and chat interfaces can help with this.

 

[00:43:30] It's an engagement tool, it’s a content tool, it's an interaction tool, and ultimately I think it's native to the candidate because of all the different platforms. I'd love to see an experience where you can finish a conversation on any platform you want in the same way that you know I might start a conversation with my friend on WhatsApp but finish it on Messenger. Sometimes with my friend, he loses the context sometimes, even though it's with me. Obviously this is why. When it's interacting with an ATS, I honestly think you can finish the conversation on whatever platform you want in the future. And it’ll still mean something to the recruiter or recruiter can still access that.

 

Steve: [00:44:20] Yeah. I don't know about you but I'm struggling with all of the messaging platforms.  There are four regularly that I use every day, I would say. It’d be nice to have one for all eventually, maybe.

 

Chris: [00:44:35] Yeah. I use WhatsApp and Messenger more than I use SMS, which is weird. But yeah, I think you can't just cut yourself off to one. When we did the trial for the chat bot, we did it as a trial so it was only on the website. So there's a specific use case. In the future for job discovery, we'd have to look at where that crowd likes to be. Is it Messenger or is it WhatsApp or is it on like an iframe on the website. You still have to go back to who is your customer, who is the persona that you're trying to target and engage with. Go back to basics, thinking like that. You can't go wrong when you really approach it with a customer-focused mindset and put yourself in the customer's shoes.

 

Steve: [00:45:33] One last question or area I want to cover off because I've picked up quite a bit of a theme in a lot of the discussion today. I'm just now, kind of, transporting into perhaps a listener working within talent or HR perhaps looking to make a change or to create a movement within their business. They’re thinking about some of stuff we’ve talked about but perhaps haven't engaged it. One of the things I think would be really valuable would be how you've engaged the business because you've mentioned lots of different functions and skillsets in various parts of the conversation today. So I'd really love to understand how you would encourage somebody to approach the business and start to then create the movement or start to engage the business in order to scale or create. Yeah, start doing some of this stuff, definitely.

 

Chris: [00:46:27] I think it's evolved over time and it still will. I think that there’s five big lessons that I've learned I think in this role, to be more effective. I think generally speaking, you've got to be value led. I think if you have values about how candidates or your customers should be treated, then I think that sets the tone for a lot of conversations. If you know that you're delivering a bad candidate experience, if you've got data to prove that, go and shout it from the hilltops because people will listen, I think.

 

[00:47:08] Ultimately, if you keep treating candidates badly that soon gets out on all sorts of different mediums and then you don't have the power to control that. So control it with the data that you have and start telling a story with it. Think about the platforms in your company that you can do this in. Whether it's like an intranet way or whether it's an email way or whether it's in a team meeting way or even if it's in an all-hands bigger meeting kind of way, whatever it is tell a story. I think that's the biggest thing that I would say when you're trying to get a use case. Also have the use cases. Go and learn how to write use cases. Partner with your business, search on Google. Searching on Google was the quicker way for me. There's many different ways. But ultimately, if you can show different reasons why a change needs to happen, then people, again, will listen to you because you you've done the research, you've done the data.

 

[00:48:17] I think ultimately listening to your customer is the biggest thing that I've learned in this role. I've also learned that feedback is a gift, that classic saying, or drop feedback not bombs is another one that I’ve used before. This is not just for candidate feedback. This is also your ability to listen to people who want to moan about a process or tell the truth, the real truths about the realities of how candidates are dealt with or what it's like for a hiring manager to hire at a company. Again, it goes back to picking out the insights and you can only get that from listening.

 

[00:49:05] Ultimately, ideation is really important but you can't do that without this feedback or these insights generated. That goes into you can't really change effectively what you can't measure. So again going back well before what I've just said is probably start measuring something. You will know as a recruiter, through just experience of going through a few processes, what kind of rough issues are there.  And then if you can start to measure that, then you can start to shine a light on it. Then you can go deeper than that and start to bring in other the datasets and start to analyse it in much, much more pinpointed ways.  At Zalando, if there’s someone who’s holding up a process, we could find out who that is. Again, it's not about telling off. It's about encouraging and enabling, and I think that's understanding what's happening in their world so that you can design a better solution.

 

[00:50:21] If you can get to a stage where you can do that consistently on a personalised basis for hiring managers and things like this, that's the real place to go to. That's the real nirvana for me. Also when you’re shining the light on certain areas, really focus and obsess. Don't go all vanilla on everything; really prioritise what changes are important to you. It goes back to you defining what your values are, not just as a recruiter but also as a business as well and try to bring them back into the recruitment process.

 

Steve: [00:50:56] Fantastic.

 

Steve: [00:50:58] So Chris, it’s whizzed by, I can’t believe how quickly.

 

Chris:  [00:51:00] Yeah, absolutely.

 

Steve: [00:50:02] A really great conversation. I will put your link and stuff in the bio if anybody wants to get in touch. Look, thank you so much for having me here at Zalando today. I know we've spoken a few times in recent years but it's an absolute pleasure to properly meet today.

 

Chris: [00:51:19] Yeah absolutely. It's been a pleasure.

 

Steve: [00:51:21] Yeah, wishing you all the very best for the future.

 

Chris: [00:51:24] Cool! Thank you very much, likewise.

 

Steve: [00:51:26] Thank you. Take care.

 

Chris: [00:51:28] Take care.

 

Steve: [00:51:30] Cheers.