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MERJE Meet MERJE, Customer Contact, MERJE Front-Line Talent...

Meet MERJE is a series of interviews with members of the MERJE team discussing their experiences of recruiting in their specialist market.

Meet Neil Johns, the Managing Consultant based in our Manchester office that heads up our Customer Contact team.

How long have you been at MERJE?

I have being working in recruitment for 13 years and have been at MERJE for six of them. I joined MERJE with the mission to set up a Customer Contact recruitment team across our Manchester and London offices. Prior to that I was working for Citibank as a Fraud Risk Strategy Manager, which incorporated a lot of analytical work. It was a good grounding as it included lots of exposure to Contact and Call Centre environments, so when I came to recruit within it I had a good understanding of the industry.

What kind of roles do you recruit for?

I manage the Customer Contact team which includes a division specialising in senior recruitment in Contact Centres, including Director of Operations, Head of Transformation, Collections Director and Head of Process Improvement. The other side of our Customer Contact offering is the MERJE Front-Line Talent team which concentrates on the volume recruitment space, including front- and back-office servicing, sales and collections across the UK.

My primary focus is on senior roles in the Financial Services sector, with the rest of my team recruiting across Utilities, Telecomms, Outsourcing, Travel, Retail and Gaming. And our MERJE Front-Line Talent team work on volume positions such as servicing, operations, customer services and planning across these sectors and many more.

A lot of what I am working on at the moment is in the digital space. As you can imagine, at the moment Contact Centres are going through a digital evolution, so I don’t just work with traditional Contact Centre Managers, Dialler Managers and Resource Planners for telephony-based Call Centres. There’s a lot of pure digital channels with a focus on self-service, which from a business perspective saves their organisation a lot of money, so I’m seeing a growth of positions in this area.

How has the market changed during your time recruiting within it?

2008 saw a big move from offshoring to bringing Customer Contact operations back on shore, and the current changes are focused on the digitisation of these operations. The next 20 years will see a reduction in front-line numbers and increased upskilling for those that remain in traditional Contact Centre roles, and transformation and process improvement will become more evident from a cost-saving perspective. The changes we are seeing has led to the move away from pure telephony to omnichannel services including email-based self-servicing and people expecting 24-hour access to accounts and operators.

What advice do you have for job seekers?

Treat ‘getting a job’ as a job in itself. While you may have a relationship with the likes of myself and two or three reciprocal agreements with other companies, make sure you use your own network as well, so be pro-active – you can’t go in to find a job in a half-hearted way.

If you are not in a job and looking for a new one, you need to dedicate a few hours a day to it. And if you are in a job but looking for replacement, make sure to develop your relationships with people like me to leverage what is a good business and what is a bad one.

It is also useful to put yourself through the paces in terms of interview preparation before you go for your dream job. In the 13 years I have been a recruiter, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve given is to go for a job you don’t want and clear out your interview cobwebs, so that when you go for your dream job you are ready for the process.

Why MERJE?

If I compare MERJE to our competitors or other similar recruitment businesses, the difference is that our Clients and Candidates get to deal with Consultants that treat people as they expect to be treated themselves. It is not in our values to place people into jobs for quick fixes and quick fees. I’d never want to hear from a Candidate two weeks after they have started a role saying that I miss-sold the job and misrepresented them – we respect people more than that. With MERJE you get to partner with a mature network of Consultants and I think there is a lot of value in that in our industry.

To contact Neil to discuss your Customer Contact recruitment or career needs, please call 0161 883 2743 or email njohns@merje.com.