Buyer Beware

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Buyer Beware

12:58 23 August in Customer Service, HR Technology, Human Business, Sales, Technology
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When it comes to the world of business, there is much that goes on behind the scenes that would scare consumers. As someone who has seen firsthand what goes on in a restaurant’s kitchen, I can tell you, it’s not a place people would find particularly appetizing. This is an example of how sometimes keeping the buying public in the dark is in the best interest of everyone. By contrast, this doesn’t work for all buying decisions, and it’s not uncommon for people to be victims of backroom deals that often turn into situations where consumers are convinced to buy products that benefit the vendor more than the consumer. For example, when you bring your car in for a simple fix, but are, instead, sold a new transmission.

When it comes to HR Technology, especially considering current market conditions, every potential customer should vet service providers thoroughly.  Asking, “Can I trust you to do what is in the best interest of my company?” is a start, but you need to dig deeper. It’s important to understand what business model the prospective service provider follows and whether this model serves customers and users or investors and shareholders.

The best companies integrate with other brands to form partnerships which provide a fuller array of products and services to their customers that make the purchased product more comprehensive and of greater benefit. In an ideal world, product manufacturers should select product integrations or alliances based on functionality, price and service… the things that benefit their consumer directly. It’s important to note, there’s a distinguishable difference between companies that offer integrations with third-party products without a financial relationship versus those companies that benefit financially from their recommendations.  Unfortunately, there’ll be always be vendors that succumb to the pressure of predatory venture capitalists and/or shareholders to maximize short-term cashflow as their number one priority. This can result in the organization only referring vendors that pay them the highest referral fees versus vendors that serve the best needs of the customer with functional products that are backed with good service and fair pricing. Given this, it’s always fair to ask these two questions, “Do you have outside financiers or shareholders?” and “Do you benefit financially by referring third-party products to me?” The best vendors will always consider the customer their primary business partner and work exclusively on their behalf. For consumers, understanding what is and is not good, honest customer service can be a tough thing to decipher at times, but you should have peace of mind in knowing you can trust your supplier to serve your best interests.

And You Need This, Too

As an example, imagine purchasing a large ticket item such as a company-wide HR technology upgrade. After purchase, you’re presented with an array of complementary third-party solutions that are integrated with your supplier’s product.  Once presented, the benefit is obvious, such as job postings or background checking… but do you know why your vendor is recommending this product? If you find that your vendor is pushing a lot of third-party products, and you later discover they’re getting paid to refer these third-party vendors, this should raise an eyebrow and a doubt about whether this vendor’s business model can deliver good customer service.

When It Goes Sideways

As an example, Facebook started as an innovative social media product designed to bring people together into communities of friends, relatives and like-minded enthusiasts. Unfortunately, due to pressure from predatory shareholders demanding more immediate cashflow, Facebook changed their business model from providing a valuable social product into a marketing platform where they make money by selling your information, browsing proclivities and preferences off to the highest bidder, and diverged from the original business model which indelibly changed the customer experience for the worse.

Summary

Keep in mind, there are legitimate and valuable reasons why someone should purchase products from a supplier’s list of vendor integrations. Understanding the motivation and underlying relationship between the supplier/company and its vendors is important, as this may give you valuable clues you can expect to experience over the years.

Doug Coull

dfc@aps2k.com

Doug Coull is the founder and CEO of APS, Inc., maker of SmartSearch talent acquisition and staffing management software. Doug founded APS in 1986 after a successful management career in the contract engineering industry. Under Doug’s leadership and unique perspective on the development and user adoption of software and technology, APS pioneered the resume scanning based system as a new approach to digital candidate management. In the ensuing years, APS continues to reign as one of the industry’s most innovative software developers in the field of HR technology. APS currently services customers on five continents, serving both corporate human resources, as well as the staffing industry. Doug attended Augustana College and the University of Minnesota. He’s the father of two sons and is an avid automobile enthusiast. Doug lives in North San Diego County, California.

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