This our third year performing our RPO Baker’s Dozen survey based on customer feedback. We continue to appreciate the support of the buying community, the RPOA, and the providers in putting together this feature each year. We also continue to see it grow in size (378 buyers participated this year) and importance. We hear often about how buyers produce the survey in pre-bid meetings as a guide for questions they put to providers. We want the survey to be as true and accurate a barometer of the market as we can produce.
This year’s survey had some interesting developments. The overall customer service scores for the entire industry moved up. The scores did not just move up by a few basis points; statistically, it represented a shift of about 55 percent from last year’s standard of deviation. There are only three explanations for this:
o Buyers are lying for their providers (doubtful);
o Vendors have all improved their models in the ordinary course of business (utopian);
o Providers are loving their customers to death in a defensive play in the down economy so they do not lose them or suffer a re-bid of older agreements that could be shopped (a bit cynical but fairly likely).
As James Carville said during the Clinton campaign, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Clearly, the hiring volumes are down for most RPO programs, and we cannot forget that improvements in technology is boosting overall service performance, but there is certainly an effort by many providers to stress customer appreciation and retention. Service improvement, however, is a good thing because it will set a higher standard for the future.
We also saw how competitive this industry has become. Basis points and fractions of a percent separate the 1st from the 13th provider, and depending on your needs, you can have quite an array of qualified suitors for your program. While many of the top providers repeated this year, there was considerable movement on the list. Here are a few of the highlights:
o The RightThing, Inc had the best overall scoring with consistency across all categories.
o SourceRight Solutions (formerly Spherion RPO) led the way with the best customer service for a second year and continues to excel, and, though the entire market score improved, this provider improved enough to stay in the top spot for this category.
o Kelly OCG showed great improvement after a recent successful global reengineering of its RPO, consulting operation, and service delivery model. Its global footprint and broad offering are giving Kelly a competitive advantage.
o AON made a strong move back onto the enterprise list. It is well poised for a run at the top.
o Adecco is also showing strength and gaining ground.
o PeopleScout continues to dominate the large deal category but is winning increasingly complex professional engagements, threatening SourceRight, The RightThing and Kenexa.
o Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS) is still the gold standard in RPO internationally, according to our data, with the broadest service and geographical reach outside the U.S.
We also collected considerable data about staffing executives’ feelings about RPO in general. This research will be presented at the RPO Summit, December 9 and 10 in Las Vegas (for more information, visit www.rposummit.com). There are some interesting trends in that overall data that everyone should hear. We hope you find great value in our report this year, and we seek a continued improvement each year over the last.