THE RECIPE FOR TOP-NOTCH SERVICE
Symphony Placements is in the staff recruitment business, which not only means helping customers find and hold on to quality workers, but building and retaining its own team. The company has managed to do well by making stellar customer service its top priority.
Symphony Placements started in 2006 and now has contracts throughout Maryland; its growing portfolio largely includes state government jobs. But the 275-person operation also has spread as far as Seattle and is about to launch in Toronto. The flexible staffing company places on a temporary, temporary to direct and direct-hire basis in all industries, and now provides executive national search.
The key to making Symphony Placements’ customers happy is relationship building, which is why management has adopted a hands-on approach. A central goal is making sure customers know they are valued and important.
“If you have a good relationship with your client, anything is workable and achievable,” says Marta Chavatel, Symphony Placements’ VP of operations and business development.
Symphony’s leaders start with their own team, encouraging them to dive deeper into the business.
The company pays for people to become certified as recruitment professionals through the American Staffing Association if they are clearly looking for a career rather than a stop-and-start job.
Growing a happy team is also about interaction and making the workplace fun. For example, staff members have cookouts and Casual Purple Friday, as many are Ravens fans.
All through the organization, there is a focus on communication, from the top to the bottom.
“We don’t just have an open-door policy. We have a place called the ‘Bull Pit’ where we all get together, sit down and chat about anything and everything. This encourages creative thinking and gives employees a feeling of being included and of importance because the [top management] is sitting there talking with them,” says Wanda Smith, founder, president and CEO of Symphony Placements. That’s what makes a company special: letting both staff and customers know they are special, she says.
Symphony Placements has grown its external client base by leveraging decades of experience in the staffing business. One key lesson learned along the way is to say yes far more often than no. The company takes on whatever challenges customers send its way, working to turn problems into success stories.
For example, technology has served as a good customer service tool. Symphony Placements’ focus on technology shows clients and potential clients that the company is willing to invest in the latest advancements to do the job efficiently. Today, the company is virtually paperless throughout its operations and conducts real-time reporting to ensure accuracy.
But while technology is a part of the equation, a personal touch is the company’s most powerful tool. This applies to both existing and potential clients.
“We don’t do cold calls. We don’t want to get in someone’s face. Rather, we [approach potential clients] in a professional manner, perhaps reaching out through social media or through special introductions from one department head to another,” says Smith.
But growing relationships, and ultimately growing the business, takes time.
“It’s a process. It’s not done in a couple of months. It can take years. You have to be patient,” says Smith.
Symphony Placements has grown organically by taking care of its existing customers, which has resulted in referrals. At the same time, the company continues to branch out with new clients and in its work with existing ones.
“We have positioned ourselves to grow like a tree,” says Chavatel.
As Symphony Placements and its team have proven themselves, some customers have brought the company in for support in other departments and divisions. In some cases, the company has been called on to staff existing customers in other cities where it operates.
The key to this payoff has been listening well and following up diligently, all the way from placement to assignment completion.
Altogether, Symphony Placements has plenty of ingredients in its recipe for top-notch customer service. The remaining pieces of the formula are industry knowledge, honesty, integrity, humor and partnership.
“Then you bake for five years,” says Smith.
Photo (L to R): Wanda Smith, Founder, President and CEO; Marta Chavatel, VP of Operations and Business Development