Working in recruitment, unfortunately our working hours are never 9 til 5, Monday to Friday. If a job comes in, a client needs assistance immediately, or a candidate needs our time, we invest heavily in doing so. Our consultants have been known to place jobs on Saturdays, during unsociable hours, in the middle of teambuilding events - you name it I'm sure many could recall a 'recruitment story' for you. The aim of doing this is so that our clients and candidates know that we endeavour to find them the best solution to their recruitment needs whichever side of the coin you may fall on.
Recently I have found this isn't the same with all organisations. I am currently flat hunting, and trying to fit viewing flats around spare time is proving incredibly difficult. The initial problem is that viewing times only seem to be in 'office hours' which happens to be 9:00-4:30 Monday to Friday and occasionally Saturday 10:00-13:00. Invariably, all those who work during the week try and book out Saturday slots, which has meant that I am having to view properties two weeks later, and have missed out on a number of ideal places due to the lack of availability.
I feel utterly perplexed by this lack of knowing what the customer wants. Speaking with a number of friends and work colleagues, it doesn't seem that it's only the property world this falls within! Surely adapting to what the customer wants is an essential part of developing a business. I know many people who, due to the job they are doing, cannot afford selected days off for property hunting. In some organisations they are expected to give at least a couple of months notice for any time off they have - not exactly practical when trying to find a new place to live!
To relay this to recruitment, I know that if a client urgently needed our help with recruiting, we would try our best to fit around their working schedule, particularly in legal recruitment. Most of our clients have court hearings, emergency client meetings and on most occasions things can change within hours, meaning that recruitment for them isn't always a priority, but a task that needs to be undertaken. We wouldn't have much of a business if we told clients that we couldn't fit them in until two weeks time - we would most certainly lose business to many of our main competitors.
This is exactly what has happened in my case. One particular agent was outstanding and because she couldn't match our availability she actually took time out of her weekend and met me one Sunday morning to view a number of properties in the area. Unfortunately the properties didn't meet our requirements, however her enthusiasm and willingness to go above and beyond has ensured that I have kept in touch with her and will 100% try to use her as much as possible during the flat hunt. I wouldn't expect her to meet with me every Sunday, but going that extra mile has definitely ensured my loyalty to her and has started the road to a good client/customer relationship.
I think that unfortunately the days of the 9 til 5 working hours are slowly dying, with 12% of the working population working more than the stiplated 48 hours working directive I think perhaps it may be time to reassess the way many of our services run. Perhaps it could be argued that we are getting used to being a 'convenience' society and as such we maybe expect more than we should. However I wish more services would open that little bit later, or at least make limited provisions to extend hours for those who may work a little bit longer than standard office hours...