Aiming high for customer service
It was a big night for Chris Peace, seeing his small recruitment business go up against the likes of EDF and TalkTalk at an awards ceremony in London.
Peace was in his best bib and tucker for the customer services awards held at the Hilton Park Hotel in London’s Park Lane.
Victory was denied, but just getting to the final was a huge achievement for the ambitious young businessman who launched Peace Recruitment in his bedroom and was delighted to be taking on the big boys.
“We were David up against Goliath,” he says, beaming with delight at seeing his company mentioned among some of the UK’s blue chip companies.
Peace is on a mission to turn his growing company into the go-to service for the construction, building and property sectors. He has just relocated from Ferry Road in Edinburgh to 2,500 sq ft of offices at Haymarket and has plans to double the staff to 30 over the next two years.
“We have doubled our space here,” he says, speaking from the refurbished suite off Dalry Road, adding that he wanted a location that would benefit his employees.
“You have to accept that many of the millennial generation are living outside the city and maybe don’t have their own transport. We are near a railway station and good bus routes here.”
He also knows – as a recruiter – that creating an attractive working environment is an important factor for employees and he wants to create a convivial and relaxed atmosphere. His dog Besos (Spanish for kisses) wanders around the office and sits beneath the table as we chat.
‘I worked out what you should not be doing’
“I want the get the best out of my staff but that should also mean they feel relaxed while at work,” he says.
He’s proud to have built a loyal team around him and is keen to hang on to a growing band of experienced operators.
“Fifty per cent of our staff have had recruitment experience,” he says. “They’re helping confirm our position in the market.”
That market is a competitive one as new agencies spring up to compete with the established players.
Peace left school to work for a travel agency, then joined Standard Life’s customer services and sales divisions. He moved into recruitment with Hays and on 1 January 2009 launched his own business, working as a sole trader for more than two years.
“I worked out what you should not be doing,” he says, with a mischievous smile.
The step change in the company’s development in recent years has helped get it established in his target sectors. He says the flow of work has never been better with 40% more jobs registered since last year and an above-average rate of filling vacancies.
Peace was the first recruitment agency to join the Institute of Customer Services which he believes makes his firm a “differentiator”. Staff are trained to focus on what the customer wants and “what the customer of tomorrow” will be demanding.
“It has given me greater clarity and understanding that if you get the service right the money and the profits will follow.”
With that in mind he worked with a software engineer to develop a rating system to help clients and his staff continually improve the service.
Called Rate My Recruiter, it offers every candidate and every client the opportunity to rate how well the firm’s consultants service their needs.
‘We are showing what the little guys can achieve’
Immediately following a consultation and at other key intervals throughout the process candidates and clients submit their scores directly from their smartphone and the results are instantly live on Peace Recruitment’s website. There is no intervention by the firm in the process.
The system has gone live and the first results are now in. Peace is delighted that they show an average score out of 10 of 8.9 for candidates and 8.8 for clients.
“It is about giving control back to the customer,” he says. “As we have grown it has become important to get this feedback, as it ensures my finger is always on the pulse.
“It’s the glue that holds the process together, and the response has been really encouraging.”
It was the Rate My Recruiter software that got the firm shortlisted for Best Application of Technology at the Institute of Customer Service Awards in London.
“We may be the little guys but we are also showing what can be achieved by a small, independent consultancy,” he says. “It’s a great achievement for us to even be a finalist.”
Job title: Chief executive, Peace Recruitment
Career highlights: Travel agency, Standard Life customer services and sales, set up Peace Recruitment
Best advice you’ve received
Don’t stop caring
Family owns property at Mijas, Costa Del Sol, in the mountains above Malaga. Got married there.
What gets you frustrated?
I am a bit of a perfectionist and probably a bit OCD. I like things done a certain way and how they represent Peace Recruitment.
Lawn green bowler, keen Celtic supporter “even though my dad was born on Easter Road”.
If you could meet three people past or present, who would they be?
Sir Richard Branson. I have read all his books and I just like his zest for life and how he wants business to be fun.
Elvis Presley, who would have some amazing stories to tell and you could really party with him.
Maradona, a legend with a rich background of tales to tell.