One of the best things about being a marketing recruiter who specializes in multichannel ecommerce is that I get to deal with some of the smartest people on earth.  Honestly, they're amazing.  There's just so much happening in the multichannel marketing arena, what with all of the changes in the way consumers can discover, buy, and return products: catalog, internet, mobile phone, TV, inbound call centers, retail stores, you name it.  The candidates who deal with these ever-changing marketing and integration challenges are freaking brilliant.

But they're clever, too -- and there's a difference.

Example:  Three weeks ago I put a candidate in play for a VP of Marketing role with a large multichannel retailer.  His first phone interview with the VP of HR was in six days, so I sent the candidate a massive pile of market research on the industry, the company, and its competitors.  I even offered to set him up on phone calls with industry analysts and vendors who know things about the company -- which he gratefully accepted.

But then he took it a step farther:  That night, my candidate Googled several of the company's products  to see how they placed in the organic search rankings.  Satisfied that all of the queried products appeared on page one of the Google rankings, he proceeded to enter my client's site through their Adwords landing page in the paid search area of the Google results.

For the next 90 minutes, my candidate used a number of Firefox extentions to analyze the site's source code, merchandise selection, and layout.  Finally, he ordered eight items from the company's Web site -- after having built and abandoned two shopping carts during his user session.

Minutes later, a confirmation email arrived stating that all online orders must be changed within two hours.  Three hours later, he logged back on to the site to make changes to the order.  When he started to have problems, he phoned the call center to complain.  The customer service person was as nice as she could be and helped my candidate make the changes.  He tried to be a jerk to her, but she managed the conflict with cordial professionalism.  The order shipped out the very next day.

Three days later, the order arrived and my candidate ripped open the box and all of its contents.  The product was in fine shape, so my candidate used two of the items.  He then marched right down to my client's store and abrasively demanded a full refund for the order -- just to see what the retailer would do.  Again, he tried to be unreasonable, but the store clerk complied happily with all of his demands.

During the check-out process, my candidate noticed a neat stack of my client's Spring catalogs next to the cash register and he began to reconcile the product numbers in the catalog against those for identical products on his order.  They all matched ...

In a last ditch effort to crash my client's customer service system, my candidate elected to make a substitution to his order -- accepting a refund for seven of the eight items he bought online, and asking to have the final out-of-stock item in a different color shipped to his house via overnight express.

The very next afternoon, the final item arrived at my candidate's house in excellent shape -- just in time for his phone interview with the VP of Human Resources.

Questions:  How much do you think this candidate knew about my client after having gone to such great lengths to crash their multichannel fulfillment system?  Do you think this candidate wanted to work for a company that goes to such great lengths to keep its customers happy?

If you answered "A bunch" and "Yes" to the above questions, then you got the point of this post.

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Harry Joiner is an executive recruiter specializing in integrated marketing and "new media." He has been featured in MarketingSherpa's Great Minds in Marketing series and received coverage in the Wall Street Journal's Career Journal Online. According to Viral Garden's weekly rankings, Harry's weblog is one of the top 25 marketing weblogs in the world.