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The Importance of Customer Service within Recruitment

By Rebecca Crowther
Posted on

ASC’s Operations Director, Jane Storer talks about the importance of customer service within recruitment and how to get it right.


Jane has been with ASC since the beginning and became Operations Director in 2007. After working in an entirely different sector, Jane moved into recruitment because she wanted a people focused career. This is still very important to her today and every aspect of her role affects the customer service ASC provides to clients and candidates from having the right procedures to welcoming new people into the business.

Her dedication to maintaining and consistently improving the service ASC provides has supported the recent achievements of REC Audited Status and the Feefo Gold Trusted Service Award 2019.

From the social to the serious side of recruitment, Jane talks through her career and how the importance of customer service within recruitment is about focusing on people.

Have you always worked in recruitment and what inspired you to start working in the sector?

Before I started in recruitment I worked for a Wine Merchants where part of my job was sampling new product lines and attending wine tastings!

A dream job I know but for some reason I wanted to broaden my horizons. I visited an agency to talk about a career change, they actually asked me to join their team and I started out as a Temp Controller many years ago!!

What does your job involve as the Operations Director of ASC?

As Operations Director I have a very broad role.  The main aim is to ensure we have the procedures in place in order for our teams to be able to focus on providing the best service they can to both candidates and clients.

When we welcome new members to our team, I spend the first 2 days with them to bring them up to speed on our business, all HR policies and systems.

Another large part of my role involves HR and training and I work with all teams across the business.

What’s the best part of what you do?

The diversity.  No two days are the same and I am still learning all the time. 

What have been your biggest challenges working as a Director at ASC?

When we first started the business we were in the middle of a recession but the biggest challenge by far was working through the “credit crunch” of 2008/9.  We had to dig deep to ensure we kept the momentum going and motivate our team in a very difficult time.  But I guess they say “what doesn’t break you, makes you stronger” and I certainly found out a lot about my personal determination whilst going through this challenge.

Another challenge is the ongoing – legislative changes we as Directors have to ensure, not only do we understand, but are able to roll out to the teams to embed in our day to day routines. 

And, of course, we all face challenges every day having to handle a wide range of queries both internally and externally.

Talk through your biggest achievements at ASC?

Over 15 years ago I was instrumental in winning a Managing Agency Contract with a global company to supply all of their staff on a permanent, contract basis.  The contract covered Finance, Customer Service, Sales, Marketing, HR, Logistics, Production Operatives and Manufacturing Management. 

Over the entire length of the contract we have retained extremely high direct fulfilment levels and have engaged with other agencies, some of which are global players themselves, in very niche areas.  Not only am I proud of winning the account initially, but retaining it for over 15 years is the bigger achievement as far as I am concerned and that has to be credited to the high levels of customer service provided by our team.

ASC have recently received REC Audited status and the Feefo Gold Trusted Service Award 2019, what do you feel has supported these achievements?

In terms of the REC Audited Status – it was all about embracing the ethos of the REC and ensuring I had a full understanding of their policies and procedures.  These were then embedded into our internal Best Practice procedure and training was provided throughout the business. It is also a big part of our On –Boarding for new starters.  From here on it is over to the teams – they don’t just work to the guidelines as a tick boxing exercise – they truly want to provide the best possible service they can. This has been shown in the feedback received through the Feefo platform, which isn’t just about ASC as a business but the individuals who actually provided the service.

To gain Feefo Gold Trusted Service Award is truly amazing.

Recruitment is all about customer service, what do you feel is the key to getting this right?

Listening first!!!  We cannot provide an effective solution if we do not listen to what our candidates and clients are looking for.  Then it is all about keeping everyone in the loop and providing meaningful feedback.  We want everyone we deal with to feel comfortable about asking us questions because there is no such thing as a silly question.

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the recruitment industry, how do you ensure ASC isn’t perceived incorrectly?

The starting point has to be the expectations we have for the teams.  The recruitment industry of old was heavily driven by targets – not just revenue but daily activities and set “phone time”. This possibly contributed to some of the misconceptions in terms of service levels.  We encourage our teams to be creative with their working days so that they have the freedom to make their own decisions.  One of our Brand Values is Respect – ‘treating those we come into contact with as we would wish to be treated – with respect, honesty and integrity’. I see this on a daily basis throughout the team.  We can’t help everyone we come into contact with but as long as everyone is treated with honesty and politeness, I am happy. 

People are a company’s biggest asset, how do you get the best out of your people?

I guess a lot of this is down to what I have said above – first of all we make sure they have the tools to do the job – processes, policies, systems, advertising budget and the skills to do the job through personal development and training.  The other aspect is a little more intangible but it’s all about creating the right environment. Myself, Neil and Mike along with the Management Team, have an open door policy, we want people to feel they can approach us if they need support or guidance from a personal or career perspective.  Oh and of course you can’t forget our nights out too!!!!

 Most memorable moment at ASC?

Being interviewed by Hugh Pym who at the time was the Economic Editor for the BBC and appearing on the national news!  I had no warning and my only regret is that I didn’t have enough time to get my hair done!!!  And my Brummy accent being apparent for all to hear!

Any funny stories from times gone by?

Gosh – there are so many – I have been here for 28 years!!!  Most surround the people and the laughs we have had.  One personal moment was when I got married and the girls forced me to have a hen night – I didn’t want one, but they organised it in secret and bought my fancy dress outfit. I was Head Teacher, they were all very naughty school girls and they arrived in a 1950’s bus!!!  It was all in the “best possible taste”.  We had such a good time and they ensured that I followed a tradition in having a “send off” that I may have otherwise missed.  I also felt that although they were out for a good time themselves, the lengths they went to showed that they were really supportive to me.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Food and drink in the main!!!  I still love a good night out and the current trend of cocktails takes me back to my early days of my 1980’s social life!!! 

Best piece of advice for people working or looking to work within recruitment?

Be prepared for a roller coaster of emotions – it is a job full of highs and lows.  Make sure you truly have a passion for helping people coupled with a tenacious approach.  You will encounter knocks along the way but the rewards both financially and emotionally far outweigh the negatives.

Does Jane sound like the type of Director you’d like to work for?  We’re always on the lookout for new talent. Send your CV to marie.weston@asc-connections.com

Mark completes Birmingham Velo and raises £650 for charity

By Rebecca Crowther
Posted on

On Sunday 12th May, Mark Dawson, Managing Consultant at ASC cycled the Birmingham Velo and raised £650 for The Alzheimer’s society.

The Birmingham Velo is a 100 mile closed road cycle route starting and ending in the heart of Birmingham City Centre. Each year around 17,000+ riders cycle the route and get to encounter amazing landmarks across the Midlands. This year, the route took you through stunning countryside, panoramic views, picturesque villages and iconic climbs including Coventry Cathedral and Warwickshire’s Packwood House. Talking about the route Mark said :

Mark Dawson after completing the
Birmingham Velo

‘I managed to cycle the 100 miles in just under 6 hours which I am really happy with. It was a great day, the weather was perfect and the atmosphere was amazing. There were thousands of people lining the route cheering you on, ringing cowbells shouting your name out and passing you cakes and biscuits! It was really nice for me as I had literally all of my family and lot’s of friends out to support me at various points on the route with banners etc. I have already pre-registered for next year’s where I will aim to complete it in 5 ½ hours’

Although a remarkable route to cycle, let’s not forget the real reason some cyclists choose to participate in the challenge – to support charities across the UK and beyond. Mark chose to support The Alzheimer’s society along with 500 other riders to try and raise £200k as a collective.

The charity is close to Mark’s heart as his father in law has the disease and Mark believes supporting the charity will improve research to better understand, treat and ultimately cure the disease. According to The Alzheimer’s society, Dementia is the UK’s biggest killer. Someone develops it every three minutes and there’s currently no cure. The Alzheimer’s society is the only UK charity that campaigns for change, funds research to find a cure and supports people living with dementia today.

With the help of family, friends and everyone at ASC, he managed to raise £650. Mark said ‘The support I had was fantastic. I set a target of £500 not really thinking I would get to it but with the help of 46 sponsors I smashed my target. Thanks to all of those that enabled me to achieve this’.

Mark’s colleague Anna Willis added ‘I am very proud of Mark for raising £650 through his Velo bike ride, it’s an amazing accomplishment and for a very worthy charity close to his heart. Well done!’

A big well done Mark from everyone at ASC.

We are very supportive of employees who want to support charity or community initiatives. If this sounds like a place you’d like to work, contact Neil McNally today or visit our work for us pages.

ASC Achieve REC Audited Status

By Rebecca Crowther
Posted on

ASC Connections has once again been awarded with REC Audited Status from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC). The REC are the largest professional body representing the UK’s recruitment and staffing industry.

REC Audited Logo

The REC audited scheme is the recognised gold standard for recruitment businesses.

For a business to achieve the standard, they are validated against compliance with industry legislation and best practice.

In short, it is a comprehensive audit that requires agencies to demonstrate a high level within areas such as; customer service, staff development, diversity, client management, data protection and much more. It also includes an on-site visit where a REC audited expert sits with employees to work through processes and best practice. As a business you can only hold the status for 2 years. After this time, a company must go through the validation process again in order to up-hold REC Audited Status.

For ASC to achieve the gold standard in recruitment for a second time shows how we have maintained the highest level of service within the recruitment industry. Moreover, our clients and candidates can feel confident they are working with an accredited supplier that is accountable to a professional body.

There are only a small number of companies that have REC Audited Status. It puts ASC in the top 10% of agencies with REC membership that have successfully achieved this award. This demonstrates our professionalism, we will go the extra mile and want to change the misconceptions of the recruitment industry.


Jane Storer, Operations Director of ASC Connections, said

I am very proud that we have gained REC Audited Status. It is evidence that we have the right processes in place and they are actively demonstrated by the team here on a day to day basis.

Neil Carberry, REC Chief Executive added “Congratulations to ASC Connections for achieving REC Audited status. In doing so they join an elite group of recruitment agencies across the UK that have achieved this high standard. This accreditation recognises that we have rigorously audited ASC Connections and found that it is performing to the highest professional standards and represents best practice in our sector.”

In addition, the company has been awarded with the Feefo Gold Trusted Service Award 2019 for their outstanding customer service levels. Jane Storer added “this really endorses the ethos and culture that everyone at ASC believes in”.

If you’re looking for a new job or a new employee, please get in touch with a member of our team who will be happy to chat through your requirements.

ASC RECEIVES CUSTOMER SERVICE AWARD

By Rebecca Crowther
Posted on

‘Customer Service is important to our business’

Tick box Feedback on a chalk board

Earlier this year, ASC Connections won the Feefo Gold Trusted Service Award. An independent seal of excellence that recognises businesses for delivering outstanding customer service, as rated by real clients and candidates.

Created by Feefo, Trusted Service is awarded only to those businesses that use Feefo to collect genuine reviews and insights. To receive the award, businesses are required to meet a high standard. This is based on the number of reviews they have collected, and their average rating. A badge of honour, this accreditation remains unique, as it is based purely on the interactions with real clients and candidates. As all reviews are verified as genuine, the accreditation is a true reflection of a business’s commitment to outstanding service.

ASC Connections exceeded the criteria of collecting at least 50 reviews between January 1st 2018 and December 31st 2018, with a Feefo service rating of between 4.5 and 5.0.

The recruitment industry’s reputation can sometimes be perceived in the wrong light. ASC Connections felt utilising the Feefo platform offered a credible way to showcase their customer service offering and improve it. In the long term they hope more recruitment agencies opt for Feefo to help build a better industry reputation overall.

ASC Connections has also recently undergone a re-brand which customer service was at the heart of. The reviews and insights collected through the Feefo platform have supported ASC ensure their new brand is delivering on the service they wanted set out to achieve.

Jane Storer, Operations Director, ASC Connections commented: “We’re thrilled to receive this award from Feefo. It recognises how hard we’ve been working to give great experiences to all our clients and candidates. Feefo enabled us to consistently improve throughout 2018 and now we’re looking forward to another successful year ahead.”

Congratulating ASC Connections on winning this year’s award, Matt West, CEO at Feefo, commented: “The Trusted Service award has always been about recognising those companies that excel beyond the norm. This year we’ve seen many remarkable businesses leveraging the full potential of Feefo to provide outstanding levels of experience for their customers – and rightly being awarded our most prestigious accreditation. I’m looking forward to the continual success of the businesses that work in partnership with us throughout 2019.”

Feefo is a technology company that provides businesses with the tools to collect real reviews and insights. Working with over 3,500 clients, Feefo ensures that all feedback is authentic. This helps increase consumer confidence and enables businesses to make smarter business decisions.

If you’re looking for a new job or a new employee, please get in touch with a member of the ASC team who will be happy to chat through your requirements.

Why is Personal Branding Important For Your Career?

By Rebecca Crowther
Posted on

Why is personal branding important and how will it help my career?

pin board with post it notes. One reads 'make things happen'

Did you know, since the year 2000 attention spans have decreased by 25%? This means gaining the attention of potential employers is even harder for jobseekers. This is why personal branding is important as it can really give your career a boost.  It allows employers to see the real you which builds trust, credibility and confidence in your ability.

Find out what personal branding is and the reasons why it’s important below.

What is personal branding?

When you think about branding, I bet your first thought is that a brand is a company and what you associate with that company? You’re not wrong however in recent years the same theories behind company brands can be applied to people.

Personal branding has shaped how we think about celebrities, politicians and has even helped ordinary people rise to fame as branding influencers.

How?

Just like companies, branding helps shape people’s perceptions of you through your opinions, ambitions, the way you look, how you communicate, act and treat others. It’s packaging your best bits and telling it as a story to differentiate yourself from others.

Now you may think that your CV is enough to cover the points made above but your personal brand is online as well as offline. Yes it includes your CV but also your social media accounts, how you respond to emails, talk on the phone and when you meet people face to face at networking events or interviews for example. It encompasses everything you do.

In a nutshell you can form the way you want people to see you.

So why is personal branding important?

Builds trust and credibility

Trust is built on getting to know the real you. Your personal brand will showcase your motivations, ambitions and what you believe in. If potential employers understand this, they will get a clearer picture about who you are and if you are someone they’d like to hire.

Credibility demonstrates your expertise and willingness to self-develop. It can be built through the actions you have taken to achieve your goals, mentoring others and making a difference. Shouting about this online, on your CV and when you speak to employers will help build credibility.

Develops your network and opens doors

The more employers see and hear about you, the more you are likely to be offered:

  1. Interviews
  2. Jobs that may never have been advertised or you may never have heard about
  3. Jobs that could be created just for you
  4. A promotion
  5. Opportunities to use your expertise to help others (which will further build your credibility and network)

Furthermore, it’s not just about developing your offline network. Did you know 56% of employers won’t consider you for roles without an online presence? By using online platforms to your advantage, you can show employers more than just your image and online work history.

It shows the authentic you

blocks of light which read this is who i am

The one thing you can’t do with personal branding is fake it and you definitely can’t buy it! But this is a good thing, it means you can’t be anything other than authentic, it comes from the heart and is driven by the things you are passionate about such as your goals, morals and values. It could emphasise the type of company you want to work for.

Imagine if an employer had loads of great CVs, including yours but had to shortlist them. If your personal brand was showcased elsewhere other than your CV, the employer could see you’re being authentic and is more likely to ask you in for an interview.

Example of personal branding

In 2010, Leonard Kim was homeless and unknown online. Now he is recognised as one of the top digital youth marketers by Forbes and has over 500,000 followers on Twitter.

Leonard didn’t achieve success by just showcasing what he does, he got there by telling his story. As a result of sharing his experience and what he learnt on the way, it made him stand out. The thing that made him stand out the most was, he talked about the mistakes he had made rather than what he did well.

He was being honest, this meant people could relate to him which built trust and credibility. He made people realise, it’s OK to discuss your downfalls online if you can learn from them.

By sharing his story and building a network of people he’d never met, people then approached him to write for their magazine, speak at conferences and work at their company.

How can you build your personal brand?

To develop your personal brand you need to take steps to understand what story you want to share with people.

  1. Understand what your key strengths are by assessing your skills, experiences and qualities
  2. What are your goals (i.e where do you see yourself in 1 years’ time, 5 years’ time etc. or what sort of company do you want to work for)
  3. What are you passionate about (do you want things to change in your industry, do you want business as a whole to work together to save the environment)

Most importantly, rememberOnce you have a good idea about who you are and what you’re trying to achieve you can start to shout about it.

Ways to promote your personal brand

  • Like, share and comment on posts from your social media account about things related to your goals and passions
  • Create your own posts (including video posts) voicing your own opinions and sharing your own knowledge
  • Attend networking events
  • Write posts about the topics you’re passionate about or the industry you’re in
  • Offer to attend schools, colleges and universities to share your career experiences
  • Attend industry events or become involved in action groups related to your passion

Hopefully that has given you an introduction to personal branding and how it can help you. Watch out for a more in depth post about how to build your personal brand. If you want to hear about this first, make sure you subscribe at the bottom of the screen.

If you’re looking for a new job, pop over to our jobs page and don’t forget to register your details.

A New Recruitment Blog

By Rebecca Crowther
Posted on

welcome to the new asc blog ASC Connections

We’ve had a good think about the types of posts you’d like to read about and hope our new content is informative, entertaining and what you are looking for in a recruitment blog.

What can you expect?

  • News Round Ups for each of our industry sectors
  • Sector insights, updates and hot topics
  • Career advice
  • Hints and tips for different careers
  • Working at ASC stories
  • Case studies
  • Reviews
  • Company updates
  • A day in the life…..
  • Polls, quizzes and puzzles just for fun

We would also love to hear from you!

Is there a topic you’d like us to post about?

Would you like to write a guest post?

Do you have any feedback?

If so, get in touch with our Marketing Executive, Rebecca Crowther:

Rebecca.crowther@asc-connections.com
0121 236 1662

We hope you enjoy our new posts. Don’t forget to sign up to our blog to get the latest news straight to your inbox.

Managing a Recruitment Business

By Rebecca Crowther
Posted on

Recruitment Director | ASC ConnectionsASC’s Managing Director, Neil McNally tells us what it takes to manage a recruitment business.

Neil started the company with Financial Director, Mike Smith in 1991. The company has gone from strength to strength, working through some tough economic times to develop into the successful business it is today. A business with four UK offices, over 40 employees and a culture that strays away from the stereotypical recruitment business.

From starting his business at 22 years old to meeting 3 of the 1966 England World Cup players, Neil talks through his journey and experiences of managing a recruitment business over the last 28 years and what he sees for the future of the company.

What inspired you to set up ASC Connections?

Being a Director / Owner of a business was something I wanted to do from a very early age so when the opportunity arose, I jumped at it. Every job I had prior to getting into recruitment, I used to think, could I set up a business like this and run it? What are the prospects? I even had a car cleaning round when I was 12 or 13. It started  with just me but I soon scaled it up by involving 2 other friends.

Where did you start your recruitment career before ASC and what made you decide to go into recruitment?

I started my recruitment career at a company called Eurotec which was a subsidiary business of The Bertram Group. I worked as an IT Recruiter which continued to be my chosen sector for a number of years. Like many people, recruitment was suggested to me by a Recruitment Consultant who was interviewing me for a sales job. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

What have been the biggest challenges you have faced over the years at ASC?

Too many to mention, however, getting through 2 recessions springs to mind. This involved re-shaping the business by unfortunately having to make some redundancies but also changing the direction of what some of the remaining staff were focused on. Also, one of the biggest challenges when managing a recruitment business over the last few years has been identifying and attracting new staff.

Now tell us what your biggest highlight is to date?

Every time we’ve created something new such as opening a new office or putting a new team together, I see that as another main highlight. I do believe change is good.

What changes have you seen in recruitment over the years and how has the company adapted to these changes?

Over 28 years, the industry has undergone significant change. Technological changes have re-shaped how we operate more than anything else. How we access data, how we communicate with one another have changed dramatically. Emailing, texting and the internet were largely unknown entities within recruitment when we started. The business has always adapted to technological change in a very positive way and generally kept up or stayed ahead of the competition. The first job boards weren’t created until 3 years after we were formed. I sound like a proper dinosaur now!

How would you like to see the company grow in the next 5 years?

We obviously need more headcount to grow the business but it’s more important to work with the people already within the business.  Supporting everyone to maximise their own potential first is crucial. It will help form a much stronger foundation to bring new people in. The key areas of Engineering & Manufacturing, IT and Supply Chain & Procurement is where the focus will be including the Business Support disciplines and Executive level roles within those industries.

How do you feel your career developed you for your ASC venture?

I was only just 22 when we formed the business so my career was quite short up to that point. However, I did experience a lot of diversity in respect to the types of companies I worked for, the people I worked with and the varying management styles I was exposed to. This variation and diversity helped me develop a business far more than any training course could. On top of this, recognising and learning how to communicate with people effectively before starting a business venture is crucial

Describe a typical week at ASC?

The great thing about managing a recruitment business is the variety. Every week is different, different office every day, different challenge every day.

What do you feel is the key to maintaining a great company culture?

Part of my job as Managing Director of ASC is to make sure employees have the tools they need to do their job and to create an environment they are comfortable in. Also, being accessible to everyone goes a long way in creating a strong culture. My door is always open for everyone.

What do you feel is the key to managing a successful recruitment business?

There is nothing unique about what we do, it’s just about how well we do it.  Managing a recruitment business successfully, requires you to create a team that want to be there and have all the core attributes that it takes to be a good recruiter. I believe you have to treat people well, identify their strengths and weaknesses and give them the relevant training and direction that’s necessary.

How do you relax after a hard week?

Who said I relax? Not really, spending time with family and friends over good food is the best way to relax.

Where has been your favourite place you have travelled to and why?

I don’t have one specific favourite place but I have been fortunate to have visited lots of different places with a lot of diversity including Hong Kong, New York, California, Thailand, North Africa and much of Europe. I like to experience different cultures.

Have you met any famous people?

I’ve met famous actors, musicians and sportsmen but I think meeting 3 of the 1966 World Cup winning team, Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore and Gordon Banks on 3 separate occasions is up there.

If you could go back to your younger self and give yourself a piece of advice, what would it be?

Managing a recruitment business requires time to plan and prepare to ensure you meet your goals- Winging it doesn’t always work!

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about setting up on their own?

Whatever type of business you’re looking to set up, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. If you think it’s a quick route to making lots of money then you’ll probably be mistaken. If it’s about the status of being a Director or Business Owner, this feeling will wear out. First and foremost, you should have a passion for what you do. Your business is more likely to have longevity if you enjoy what you do. Spend time planning and preparing and take advice from people that have set up similar ventures. Remember, working for yourself, even if you have staff working for you, can be a very lonely place, however, it can also be the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.

Does Neil sound like the type of Director you’d like to work for?  Send Neil your CV as he’s always on the lookout for new talent. If you’re looking for advise about setting up on your own, send him an email

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