Posts

On the Way to Amsterdam

I recently moved to Heidelberg, Germany with my family for my husband’s career. We plan on living here for a few years, and luckily ExactHire let me keep my job by working remotely.

We have been here almost a month and are getting pretty settled. We bought a new (to us) car and found a flat that we can move into this September. My daughter is attending an International School in Heidelberg, and she will be meeting kids from around the world. The classes are small and teaching takes a different approach.

Once in a Lifetime Opportunity

Part of the reason we took this assignment was the opportunity to travel around Europe for a few years. We started strong by taking our first road trip to Amsterdam this past weekend. Some friends were in town for work so we got to enjoy some familiar camaraderie with other Americans.

The drive to Amsterdam is only 5 hours long, but as the Taylor tradition stands…we had an unexpected delay. After we realized that we had forgotten our passports back in Heidelberg, we had to turn around to retrieve them–making the outbound journey several hours longer than expected. So we ended up taking 7+ hours to get there,  but under 5 hours to return (the Autobahn can be great time saver).We visited the Anne Frank House, did some shopping in a pop-up flea market, saw Rembrandt’s House (from the good years), ate some Dutch cuisine, and took an open boat canal tour in a bit of drizzling rain.

Grass Is Not Always Greener

On the drive to Amsterdam we passed a huge office building with a company offering Human Resources software. I marveled at their building. It was a huge presence and a glorious example of some of the amazing architecture that the Netherlands has to offer. It made me think of how little their individual customers must mean to their bottom line. I thought about the type of service a large company like that would allow me to offer my clients.

See, I have worked for giant companies, and I never liked it much. The regulations and the inability to have any control over the type of service given to the end user was always frustrating. I once worked for a company that wanted me off the phone with a customer in 2 minutes! (It’s nearly impossible to authorize a person and figure out what they need in 2 minutes, let alone offer an opportunity to actually help.) I was not empowered, supported, or encouraged in the large companies that I worked for in the past.

Driving by that impressive building made me remember that sometimes large companies get to their goals any way possible. They can sacrifice their employees, customers, and sometimes their integrity. That building reminded me of why I turned to a small company that I can believe in everyday. A company that makes me proud, that empowers me to help my clients, that gets me excited to wake up and go to work (even if it is in my kitchen)- that is the kind of company that I work for and I wouldn’t trade it for a window office in that fancy building in Amsterdam.


ExactHire offers HR Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions for hiring and succession planning needs. And while there are many HR software companies that provide this, ExactHire seeks to do more than simply provide software. Through its U.S.-based (and Germany-based ex-pat)) client support team, regular software updates, and frequent HR resources, ExactHire is committed to the success of its clients.

 

How May I Help You?

I’ve created a career out of customer service. When I was 15, my first job was cold-calling people to visit a direct sales store for a chance to win a car. There were a lot of lessons to learn there. I learned how to be professional and polite, and I learned to hear a smile or a frown over the phone. But most of all, I learned that people don’t like it when you call during dinner time.

Through the years I’ve worked in retail, restaurants, bars, banks, and insurance companies. I even took a stab at building my own photography company.  For the past three years I’ve worked at ExactHire, a software company. Each adventure in time yielded some unique stories and helped me develop my skills. Luckily, I also learned something a little unexpected in the process: how to be a good customer.

Here are some helpful tips for contacting customer service at a software company or anywhere.

Contacting Customer Service Tips

When leaving a message or sending an email to a support line:

  • Always remember to provide your name and number when leaving a voicemail (believe it or not, I’ve received messages without this crucial information).
  • Clarify the product or service you are using (some companies have multiple services or products).

Regarding Software Support

  • Report the specific issue…the more specific, the better (screenshots of the issue are magnificent additions).
  • Provide a recap of how you arrived at a specific place where you encountered the issue.
  • If you received an error code at any time, providing it will cut down on your wait time.
  • Always refer to things with the name that is used in the system to avoid confusion.
  • If you have a firm deadline, make this clear (many times your case can be prioritized).
  • Provide usernames if you are reporting an issue that someone else is having.

There you have it. Customers and customer service representatives want the same thing…a solution! By following these tips, customers will maximize the chances that they receive a solution in a timely manner.

But this isn’t a one-way street. Customer service must also understand a customer’s needs and perspective. And to that end, it’s always helpful when customers provide constructive feedback on service. So the next time you have a great interaction with a customer service rep. (or a not so great interaction), let them know (in a kind, constructive way). And, be sure to complete any customer service surveys too!

 

ExactHire provides hiring software to small and medium-sized businesses. With one-on-one software implementation and quick customer service response times, ExactHire prides itself on putting the customer first. Contact us today to learn how you can invest in hiring software and service that adds value to your work and your organization.

Why Uptime Is Important

Uptime is a term used to describe how long a system remains functional and accessible. Uptime is enjoyable–you get what you expect when you want it. Downtime is the opposite–you don’t get what you expect when you want it.

In the first days of PokemonGo, many users were aghast to find their new pastime–at once hip and nerdy–was inaccessible due to its mass popularity. The servers couldn’t handle the traffic. And so for four hours PokemonGo hipnerds suffered through downtime.

Now this is excusable for a new release that encounters unexpected popularity. In fact, the downtime probably helped PokemonGo…

Brah 1: “Brah, PokemonGo is sooo populah that it broke the servers, brah.”
Brah 2: “Whahh, brah? What’s PokemahGah? I’m gahna download it, brah.”
Brah 1: “Dooo it, brah!”

That’s all fine and good for an app meant to distract and entertain the masses, but you and your HR brahs don’t want downtime when working with hiring software. You want your software to meet your expectations when you need it. Downtime is not acceptable.

Uptime For HR Software

HR Software vendors aren’t dealing with millions of round-the-clock users obsessed with the fun and competition of hiring talent. Recruiters don’t have to “catch ‘em all”, they just need to catch the right ones for the right positions. So maintaining uptime for users shouldn’t be such a huge challenge. But curiously enough, for some, it is.

When HR professionals contact ExactHire about our applicant tracking system or employee onboarding software, they ask a lot of questions. And right they should, as an informed buyer more often than not results in a happy customer. However, one question that is rarely asked is something like, “So what can I expect in terms of this solution’s uptime and downtime?”

You see, even a buyer who asks all the right feature and benefit related questions–and gets all the right answers–will find herself beyond disappointed if that well-vetted solution is constantly crashing or inaccessible. Frequent downtime means HR cannot access information on applicants, cannot communicate, and is essentially dead in the water. This is the risk of going with HR technology that looks pretty and works well, but frequently fails to work at all.

This is not to say that a solution should not have any downtime. In fact, it’s often necessary to schedule downtime in order to perform system maintenance and updates–that’s the beauty of SaaS solutions, you are constantly receiving the best that the vendor can offer in features and functionality. The problem, however, is that many vendors do not always schedule their downtime.

The HR Software Vendor’s Role

Unscheduled downtime is likely the result of one or two things:

  • A lazy/careless/ungrateful vendor
  • Inadequacies in vendor hardware or software

Oh, and maybe an earthquake or another Act of God, but that’s understandable. God has his own rules.

It’s probably safe to say that most organizations don’t want to do business with a lazy/careless/ungrateful vendor. And they certainly don’t want to invest in inadequate software that runs on questionable hardware. So why do HR professionals fail to ask about uptime and downtime when it comes to making a buying decision?

I think it goes back to expectation. We expect that 100% uptime is a given. Even though we all have gone through the annoyance (rage?) of losing a cell phone signal or dropping the stream from the season finale of Game of Thrones right when Cersei Lannister is prepared to exact her revenge on the High Sparrow and the House of Tyrell!

Ah the rage! And yet, we still expect 100% uptime.

100% HR Software Uptime

Fortunately, striving for 100% uptime is not a fool’s errand. By employing competent software developers and using stable hardware, vendors can go a long way toward ensuring 100% uptime. And when maintenance or updates are required, a proactive support team that notifies users of upcoming downtime is a must. Lastly, when those competent software developers are also committed to user satisfaction, updates and maintenance can often be planned for weekends or evenings in order to avoid downtime that negatively impacts users.

At ExactHire, our goal is to continually fulfill the expectations of our clients. Maximizing the uptime of our solutions is vital to this. In addition to our professional, committed staff in software development and client support, we utilize multiple servers and real-time data replication to provide system redundancy, limiting downtime. And when downtime is required, we’ll schedule it and you’ll know about it–but you probably won’t notice it.

So if you are currently researching HR solutions, check us out. And as you look at other vendors ask them about uptime and look for signs that backup their claims. You’ll be a better informed buyer and, ultimately, a happier customer.

Now excuse me. I’ve got some Pokemon to catch.


Feature Image Credit: pokemon-go-crash-189560 by Nintendo (contact)

Sharing Joy With Customers

As an employee at a small business, you frequently have the opportunity to interact with customers, and it’s easy to see how your work directly impacts the customer experience. You also have the opportunity to learn about different aspects of the business, so that when the organization succeeds in one area, it’s easier to share in the joy of that success.

Recently, ExactHire succeeded in optimizing HireCentric ATS for mobile devices, while also migrating the platform to new servers where it can more easily be updated in response to our customers’ needs. A huge win!

As we celebrated, I realized something: although it’s my teammates’ success, the big winners are our customers. We successfully improved our product and set the stage for future improvements without increasing costs to our customers–we added value. So a large part of our celebration was the excitement we had for our customers. And I think this genuine excitement for customers is something unique to small businesses.

Sharing Joy

At a larger company, this news like ours might be circulated in a memo, added to the website, and emailed to clients. Employees would read, acknowledge, and then go about their day. But at ExactHire, we all shared in this success and in communicating it to our customers.

We pride ourselves in taking a personal interest in our clients, in going the extra mile–or two–to ensure that our clients succeed through the optimal use of our solutions. So when it came time to share the news that HireCentric ATS was optimized for mobile devices, we felt that a simple email just wouldn’t do.

We had to do more for our customers. We had to share our joy. And what better way to share your joy than to hone your inner thespian and breakout into song and dance. With a loosely written script, bad lighting, worse audio…but with enthusiastic (though roundly tone-deaf) actors, we set to the task of making a promo video announcing HireCentric’s new mobile-friendly platform!

Bringing The Team Together

Involving the majority of our staff was possible thanks to our size–small businesses can more easily do something like this. And although a few of our employees were working remotely, we were able to use mobile devices, cloud-drives, and email to get the job done. But, of course, it also required a team that was willing to be a little goofy for the good of the cause–luckily we have that in spades.

The end result of our efforts was a fun (to create and to watch) video that communicated some of the primary benefits of our updated platform. Oh, and some really hilarious outtakes that–at least at this point–may not be suitable for public distribution. So check it out and let us know what you think!

3 Ways to Hang With ExactHire at the 2015 HR Indiana Conference

My favorite HR-related time of year is coming up soon. It’s a time to reconnect with human resources colleagues from across Indiana, get in line with the latest employment law updates, scope out emerging talent management trends and let your HaiR down. This will be my seventh HR Indiana Conference in a row and I’m sure it won’t disappoint with around 1,500 registered attendees and a sold out exhibition hall.

Of course ExactHire will be in on the local HR festivities, as well. Here are three different ways you may personally connect with our team during this year’s three-day conference in Indianapolis.

Hear Us Speak

We’ll definitely be informative, but we’re aiming to be funny, too! And let’s face it…with so many concurrent sessions from which to choose and not always enough time to sneak to the J.W. Marriott’s Starbucks in between to prevent those droopy eyelids, you’re going to need some entertainment value. Our Co-Founder, Jeff Hallam (@JeffHallam), and I (@JessLStephenson) will be presenting “Employee Onboarding: Define, Manage, Measure & Excel” during the concurrent session block on Tuesday, August 25th from 10:15 – 11:30am. See? It’s official.

ExactHire 2015 HR Indiana Presentation
In case you can’t read the tiny description text in that picture, here’s the official program description for our presentation:

To reduce turnover and enable new hire productivity sooner, more organizations are reengineering their employee onboarding processes. Virtually any key performance indicator in business can be tied to people, so an effective onboarding program plays a critical role in improving business performance. We’ll explore the expanding definition of onboarding, discuss how to conduct a needs assessment, identify trends in onboarding automation and look at best practices for process management and stakeholder engagement.

Practical, helpful, current. But wait…funny too! Here’s one of our presentation slides to give you a taste. BTW – if you don’t recognize the reference in this picture you’re simply not allowed to come to our presentation! (Just kidding…or am I?)

ExactHire HR Indiana Onboarding Presentation
ExactHire Onboarding Ebook Conference BlogI’m not saying that there will be prizes for enthusiastic audience members who participate during the presentation. But, I’m not saying there won’t be prizes either. Hint.

Plus, if you’re intrigued by the presentation content, then you should check out our very latest ebook: All Hands on Deck: A Guide to Employee Onboarding Process Improvement

Chat Us Up At Our Exhibitor Booth

Come visit us in the Exhibitor Hall at booth #119. As you enter the hall, we’re in the middle section of the first aisle on your left.

2015 HR Indiana Floorplan

We promise to have pleasant folks on hand to answer all of your questions AND stamp your exhibitor BINGO cards. We’ll even have a chance for you to enter our prize giveaway if you fill out our quick form to enter. “Drats” you say…all the other exhibitors let you just drop your business card in a fishbowl. True, but consider your probability of winning our prize if you take an extra 30 seconds to fill out our super short entry form on your smartphone?

Visit us and you might even end up in future installments of our HR Indiana Conference photo gallery!

Chill With Our Own Certification Credit-Starved Attendees

Randi Jess at Conference | ExactHire

Randi & Jess at last year’s HR Indiana Conference

Like many of you, a couple of us are tasked with keeping our own HR-related certifications current every three years. This conference is a fantastic way to get a boatload of credits at a very reasonable price! So naturally, Randi Renee Shuck, SPHR and I (PHR, SHRM-CP) will both be attendees and eager to learn all the latest HR tidbits to help us continue to grow professionally and be even better equipped to serve our clients.

If you see one of us in a session, please consider saying hello. We’d love to connect and extroversion is simply not a challenge for either of us.

The ExactHire team looks forward to seeing you at this year’s HR Indiana Conference from August 24th to August 26th! If you can’t wait that long and want to talk to us right away, by all means contact us today!

Can You Help Me With My Help Button? — Customer Support Hacks

There is no doubt about it, technology is great when it works. But what happens when it doesn’t?

When technology has “technical difficulties,” we generally reach out to tech support. Customer Service Advocates and Product Support Specialists like myself are invaluable resources, and we are happy to help; however, sometimes you may need help outside of office hours. In this case, most software systems will have a knowledge base that clients can use to troubleshoot, which can certainly get you out of a late-night bind.

But if you find yourself on the phone with the Help Desk or Support Team regularly, you might also benefit from a few ‘tech-hacks’ that I compiled from my time spent providing support. These are common solutions to common problems many of our clients encounter.

Know What You Are Using

I spend a good portion of my day supporting clients that use our cloud-based HR and pre-employment screening software. Since these programs work right from the client’s web browser, it should be no surprise that I regularly ask clients what browser and version they use. Often I get the response of “Dell” or “Windows 8”… not browsers. To make it easy for our clients to find this out, I direct them to https://whatbrowser.org/. Now I have the important information I need to begin solving their problem.

Clearing Your Cache & Cookies

Often times, the technical difficulties my clients encounter are caused by the cache or cookies. But what are these things, and how do they work? Here are some supporting details for these two culprits:

Cache

The cache is a term that refers to a place on your hard drive where the browser stores website data in case it’s needed again. The cache prevents your computer from downloading the same things over and over again–this lets your computer run faster. When the cache is full, the things you haven’t used in a while will be deleted–similar to when your DVR becomes full. Sometimes cloud-based programs don’t work correctly or appear garbled because your cache is full. Examples include: partially loaded or badly formatted web pages, incomplete pictures, or– in some cases–the wrong picture in the wrong place. The cache isn’t always the issue, but it is definitely worth clearing first before diving in to investigate with your hair on fire!

Cookies

A cookie is a small file containing a string of characters that is sent to your computer when you visit a website. Each website uses their own cookies, it is whatever specific data (cookie) that particular website wants to remember about your visits. The user experience is better when cookies are enabled because your computer will remember information about your visit and your preferences. If you clear your cookies, sites may take longer to load and your usernames or other preferences will be erased. If you disable cookies completely, you will find that most websites won’t work properly and the internet will be quite inconvenient. So enable them, please.

User Error

Maybe it isn’t nice for tech people to make up jokes about I-D-10-T errors, but they are real. You really should check your cord connections, pop-up blockers, software updates, and if all else fails… take a 5 minute break and revisit your frustration with fresh eyes. Of course, it’s  always okay to ask for help, but don’t be that person asking “Where is the ‘any’ key?”

 

ExactHire provides technology for hiring, backed by unmatched excellence in customer support. To learn how our SaaS solutions can help your organization find, hire, and keep top talent, contact us today!

Red Rover, Red Rover, Send An HR Challenge Right Over!

HR professionals face new and unique challenges everyday. As an HR technology company, ExactHire seeks to assist organizations in meeting these HR challenges. We do this through providing hiring technology that supports a paperless HR environment, but also by providing exceptional client support and advocacy that goes beyond troubleshooting. Recently, I had the opportunity to describe how our organization accomplishes this.

We had been on the hunt to select an additional team member for our organization. During the interview process, one of the candidates asked the following question:

“Being a smaller organization, I assume everyone must wear many, different hats; can you help me understand how that works within your organization?”

What a wonderful question regarding organizational structure and cultural fit!

A Culture of Collaboration– Meeting HR Challenges

In answering her question, I likened our culture of collaboration to a game of Red Rover. If you’re not sure what Red Rover is, you can check out the rules here. The game can basically be boiled down to one objective: do not allow your line to break.

As a child playing Red Rover, I saw that the teams whose members locked hands and stood firmly in position could not keep the line from breaking when challenged. The teams who knew to bend and absorb the impact did much better at resisting a break in the line.  In other words, the teams that worked together and were willing to be flexible in their positions usually had more success.

At ExactHire, we all have our specific positions and roles to play. But when a challenge comes speeding our way, we know that we must bend and shift to hold the line. We’ve worked together across positions, at times outside of roles, to complete special projects like helping clients become BanTheBox compliant or developing a system to help clients access previously submitted Help Tickets.

Everyone faces a challenge that may push them backwards at some point. But if teammates can be flexible and help one another bounce back, the team will successfully meet the challenge and hold the line. This is how ExactHire works. Everyone is cross-trained in more than one position. We are flexible. And most importantly, we are all dedicated to being a team and holding the line for our clients–the real winners of this “Red Rover” mindset.

Image credit: Police Kids Ministry by Michael Sarver (contact)

My 6 Fav Features on ExactHire’s Website & Why They Matter to You

I’m pretty much euphoric to be writing this post as it is proof that our labor of website love is now bearing content-rich fruit. That is, we launched the new and improved ExactHire website in early December in order to improve the content-consumption and site navigation experiences for individuals like you. Or simply put, we’ve made it easier for you to find our website, and once you arrive, we’ve made it easier for you to find the information you seek.

And while the whole site caboodle is reason for me to jump up and down (as it was quite an undertaking), I still have my favorite areas. In this blog, I’ll show you the top six and explain why they will make your life easier when it comes to finding the latest hiring software trends and product resources.

#1 – Mobile Device Responsive Design

Perhaps one of our biggest initial motivators for making a change, a responsive theme allows our new website to automatically adjust to fit the size of whatever device is used to view it. Enjoy it on the “big screen” at the office or revel in its sharp, compact appearance on your smartphone. The mobile view even has a menu icon in the top right corner that allows you to expand and use the navigational menu. Plus, the slightly shaded upward carrot in the lower right corner propels you to the top of the page with a quick touch.

ExactHire website mobile responsive design

#2 – Multitiered Site Navigation in Header

We’re always adding new product-specific features pages to our site. However, previously it wasn’t always immediately apparent to our site visitors because they were buried in internal links within bodies of text. With the new site, simply hover your cursor over the primary navigation links and…voila! You’ll be able to dig deep into the site with ease as additional secondary and  tertiary submenus pop out to the site. Also, as you scroll down the page header and navigation menu will follow you as you go – pretty nifty.

ExactHire website multitiered site navigation

#3 – Site Search Capabilities

If you still can’t find exactly what you are seeking on our site with the navigation menus, then simply click on the magnifying glass icon on the right side of the header. It will expand to include a text box into which you may type a relevant keyword term or phrase. Click the green magnifying glass button and you will be presented with any pages on the site that include those keywords.

ExactHire website search

#4 – Resource-Rich Page Sidebars

In addition to the primary navigation available in the header of our site, many of the pages now also include a sidebar full of resource-related links. Let’s say you’ve just perused our applicant tracking system features page and are interested in learning more about specific ATS features, just check out the sidebar for cues on what content may be relevant to you next.

ExactHire website sidebar resources

#5 – Product Demos Accessible From Single Page

If you’re at the point in your hiring software product investigation that you’d like to watch one of our demo videos, then please note that you can easily do that from a single page if you are interested in more than one of our software applications. Navigate to the Resources>Product Demos page, and you’ll see a row of thumbnails representing each of our video demonstrations. Click on one and the thumbnail expands to display a more thorough explanation and allow you access to watch the video within that page. Once you’re ready for the next video, just click the little arrow icon on the top right of the preview pane to switch to the description and video of the next product. Fast and easy.

ExactHire Hiring Software Demos Preview

#6 – Blog With Engaging Images & Tag Suggestions

Gone are the days where our main blog page was a long boring list of titles without pictures. Enter our new blog area and decide which blogs are of interest to you by examining both the associated image and the text preview. Better yet, narrow down the blog results by selecting a specific category of interest from the sidebar menu.

Then, at the end of each individual blog post, take a glance at the “you might also like” section which populates with other blogs that have the same topic tag(s) as the one you just finished reading.

Or, if you just want to click through individual blog posts in the order in which they were posted, check out the nifty sideways carrot icons in the middle of each side of your screen. They pop out to preview the next blog in the list order and allow you to click through to that entry.

Engaging blog images tag suggestions

We hope you find our company website easy to navigate and enjoyable to search and read! If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments section and/or contact us today.

Image credit: Untitled by eflon (contact)

Fix Bad Customer Service, Don’t Flip Out

My daughter was on Fall Break, and that meant that she needed a friend over to keep her company. It was a regular work-from-home day for me, but when 2 adorable little girls ask you to  take them to the local trampoline park for an hour, you kind of want to give in to that request.

Being a modern mom, I hopped online and checked the facility’s availability for the afternoon. On their site, I noticed that Wifi was available. Perfect!  I could now  work while the girls jumped. So I called just to confirm the WiFi, and I received a verbal confirmation: “Yes Ma’am, we have free WiFi.” Yay! I bought the digital tickets, packed up, and we drove over.

We arrived. And with the girls jumping away, I smiled, pulled out my laptop, and set to work. Then things took a turn…No WiFi.

SaaS Overcomes Bad Customer Service

As frustrated as this made me, I wanted to be a good example to the girls. So there was no angry scene or request for a refund. I am a modern mom, and I had a smartphone with 5 different work apps already loaded. Plus, I still had a computer, which works without internet (really, it works without the internet). So the girls got their jumping in and I managed to work around the issue.

Well, this post doesn’t seem like it has much to do with ExactHire, but it does! And I could go two ways from here:

#1 Software as a Service (SaaS) made it possible for me to even run into this issue, and it also allowed me the opportunity to work from my phone and still respond to customers during this conundrum.

#2 The staff at the trampoline park is obviously sub-par. It could probably benefit from an ATS like HireCentric to hire better employees–those who don’t lie or guess at answers with customers.

*Deep Breath*

Since I have written about the amazing benefits of SaaS before, I will go with #2.

Although the trampoline park got my money and my business that day, I do not plan to return because the service there was so poor. Not only did the person on the phone lie (or perhaps didn’t know and didn’t care to check), the service at the check-in desk was bad too. The lack of customer service skills and experience was apparent and disappointing.

So how can your organization avoid this scenario?

Hire A Customer Service Culture Using ExactHire Solutions

Applicant tracking software can improve the quality of employees for any business. An ATS helps you compare applicants and their qualifications before making a hiring decision.  This ensures that you can quickly hire for the right set of skills and experience that will drive your business forward.

ExactHire’s HireCentric ATS can support the creation of a customer service culture at your organization, and we offer additional solutions to streamline your hiring process as well. From software that automates reference checking and background checking, to a system that makes onboarding paperwork a breeze to complete, ExactHire has what you need to grow.

No matter the vertical of business, you need good employees. I left a business card for the owner of the trampoline park. Maybe he’ll give us a call.  Any  business that entrusts their livelihood and success to teenage angst should also employ some form of behavioral assessment–we offer those too!

Image credit: Trampoline by Nico Aguilera (contact)