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Gruelling interviews, HR teams, and formal handshakes are just some of the images conjured up when you think about an organisation recruiting a new colleague.

But recently we stopped and considered the question: aren’t customers the best people to help us recruit to customer-facing roles? Shouldn’t we get them involved in this process? That’s exactly what we did.

Our new neighbourhood coach role involves colleagues being out in their community daily – on a far smaller patch than ever before. They’re the first point of contact for customers and are the people developing trusting relationships with them on an ongoing basis. They’re also the colleagues who help identify and maximise the many talents of our customers or offer them support on anything from their finances to health issues.

As you can see, it’s crucial that we hire the right person for this role. Working with our in-house recruiters, our feedback team enlisted the help of Clare and Denise, two customer volunteers, to help with the recruitment.

We asked the applicants to conduct a home visit to see how they interacted with our customers, and also to see if the customer found them easy to talk to. By allowing the applicants to ask probing questions, Clare and Denise were able to judge how comfortable they would be in opening up to them in a real-life scenario. Our customers then gave feedback to our recruitment team which heavily influenced the end result. Denise said:

When Matt from the feedback team contacted me and asked if I’d like to be involved with the recruitment, I thought it would be really interesting so I said yes. I definitely enjoyed the session. It gave me an insight into how Bromford recruit – they don’t just take anyone on, they look for the right fit for the customer.

Clare went on to say:

It was very interesting to see what kind of people Bromford look for to be placed in customer-facing roles and I think it’s brilliant that customers are a part of this process. At the end of the day, neighbourhood coaches will be coming into our homes and lives so we need to be able to communicate and bond with them easily. This was a really good way to be included in what’s happening in your home and community and I’d definitely recommend other customers giving it a go.

Bromford neighbourhood manager Emma O’Sullivan added:

Denise and Clare were brilliant. They welcomed candidates into their homes and opened up to them regarding their personal lives. They then provided us detailed feedback on how they were made to feel and whether they would recommend the candidate for a job at Bromford. Having customers involved in our recruitment process keeps it real. Candidates know that the most important aspect of our work is the relationship we have with our customers. From day one prospective colleagues know that we care about our customers and value their views because, ultimately, customers are central to everything we do.

I’m the man in the know for everything customer involvement and developing online communities with our customers. Customer involvement is putting customers at the heart of what we do, and that for me is what it’s about! 

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