Strategy Execution Blog, Research and Analysis
(Lack of) Customer Satisfaction In Talent Management
This week, Bersin & Associates released The Customer Experience: Talent Management Technologies 2012. Josh Bersin and team spent a year conducting a research study on the customer experience with talent management software.
If my memory is correct, Josh Bersin released his first study on this topic in 2005. At that time, the study indicated that vendors were working hard to meet customer expectation requirements, succeeding somewhat, but only grading out with an “average” customer experience in most cases. 7 years later and guess what, vendors have improved their grade to a C+ !!. Still plenty of room for improvement, especially amongst the larger suite providers that continue to fall well short of expectations set by their marketing team and sales process.
Some areas of interest that the study mentions:
1) Buyer expectations for integrated systems are unmet. This comes as no surprise, vendors are touting the benefits of a fully integrated Talent Management system. However, when a business has been using a best of breed Applicant Tracking system fully integrated with their other HR technologies using web services and then converts to a system where Applicant Tracking is one of five modules that have been cobbled together with company acquisitions and offshore developers, there is a possibility that key functionality will be lost. This is 2012, web services and API’s enable integration on almost any scale. Don’t blindly believe the sales pitch, test out a suite vendors sandbox for 30 days and ensure you have key functionality. If it is not in the sandbox, it probably will not be there after you mail in your first implementation consulting services payment.
2) Buyers have had a tough time rolling these systems out. Again, no surprise here, but plenty of disappointment and questions for your vendor. This is 2012, software should be functional without an implementation services engagement that requires a 12 page contract and thousands of dollars. Lesson of the day, if a software vendor has a services team that is twice the size of their sales team, the software probably isn’t very good.
3) Some vendors are far better at supporting their customers than others. With the various mergers and acquisitions going on in the industry, combined with the quarterly revenue expectations of the public company Talent Management vendors, it is no surprise some customers are getting less-than-stellar support. Get to know your vendor, understand their business model and motivations. Is the business built to provide a needed service to clients, stable work environment to employees and acceptable return to investors? Or is the business built to provide an exit strategy to the founder and VCs?
Here is a hint....when your current Talent Management vendors Account Executive calls you every day the last week of the quarter and asks about the status of that additional software order and then the same vendors consulting manager calls to try to get that services contract approved before the quarter books close, all while you are still waiting for a call from the support desk about that bug fix or software upgrade promised 3 months ago. Ask yourself, is this vendor in the business of solving my business problems or their revenue goals?
4) ERP provided solutions tend to underperform. More companies are using the big ERP vendor’s Talent Management solution. That means HR is losing budget and getting stuck with the CIO’s decision....never a good thing for the end user. Bersin’s study also mentiones that only 62% of the responding organizations said that they feel they have a partnership with their IT departments, which means that more than 1/3 of the companies using talent management software are doing it without professional technical support. When HR has little internal IT support and then is depending on the vendor’s implementation team (a.k.a the Trojan Horse) to come in and “advise” while implementing, you have a recipe for a 2-3 year rollout that exceeds cost estimates by at least 50%. Pick a vendor whose software is functional in the sandbox, not one that requires onsite consultants to get up and running. Your users and CFO will be much happier with the results.
5) Users were most satisfied with the performance management products. I am pleasantly surprised by this given the reputation performance reviews have in general. This data supports the theory that automating this process provides value to the business as well as the user since it is quicker, easier and more streamlined when delivered via technology instead of the traditional pencil and paper that so many organizations still use.
6) Social tools and workforce planning tools are still immature. Customer satisfaction is low in this category, but it is also the newest vendor option and limited user base data is available. The jury is still out as to whether these social apps provide value to enterprise. Salesforce.com is spending a reported $63 million on Rypple and Saba has spent years and millions of dollars on the development of Saba Social. Does anyone know a Fortune 500 company that uses either one of these products?
7) Bersin said the lowest “area” of satisfaction with these vendors is what we call “business partnership.” See my comments in item number 3 of this blog post, today’s Talent Management vendors are typically either aligned to support customers or their key stakeholders (i.e. key executives, investors, Wall Street etc.). Pick vendors aligned with you, not their exit strategy.
Bersin & Associates have researched and published an excellent resource for the HR technology buyer. I recommend organizations take a close look at this research when evaluating current and future vendors in the Talent Management space.