CEO’s Letter: Baker’s Dozen Breakdown

By Elliot H. Clark

In this issue, we announce our HRO Today Baker’s Dozen Customer Satisfaction Ratings™ for MSP (Contingent Labor Resourcing and Management) for 2021. Okay, that’s a long and complicated name, but what exactly is it? Well, it’s what you, the practitioners and clients of MSP, think of your programs and partners, distilled into an easily consumable data set for an RFP process. The Baker’s Dozen differs dramatically from other rankings out there, and we want to highlight the differences, the importance, and the advantages of our ratings system so you understand what you are getting from us versus the others.

Most of the other industry ranking reports or sector graphing reports are based on individual analysts’ opinions and the providers’ own self-reported data with varying degrees of verification. Here, I will explain our process and why, obviously, we think it is better. If you are making a career-impacting choice around service partners, you should rely heavily upon the Baker’s Dozen Customer Satisfaction Ratings™.

When companies inquire about the survey, the first question we always get asked is: “Why 13?” Let me answer that now. There is no reason, magic, or statistical underpinning for 13 other than the prior owners thought it sounded cool and would be a good brand. We have to agree with them, but the Baker’s Dozen predates the ownership of SharedXpertise™. We inherited a good brand, but a very flawed process. Prior to 2009, the original Baker’s Dozen was based on fully self-reported and unverified data. This information was then used to do a ranking by the publishers, which was an inherent conflict of interest. SharedXpertise™ acquired HRO Today in mid-2007 and spent 2008 researching and creating the current methodology. Prior to the introduction of this ranking system, all data sources for vendor rankings were self-reported or opinion/analyst driven.

Our research from 2008 indicated that HR leaders used the available analyst rankings, but even then, had grown “weary” and “wary” of the data sources. All of the magic had gone out of “magic quadrants.” The principal source of comfort for them was networking with other HR practitioners for referrals and then later references. We DID NOT discount the importance of references, however, we began to rethink the idea of referrals. What if we could “systematize” and “automate” referrals?

That simple question led to the Baker’s Dozen Customer Satisfaction Ratings™. We considered social media, but did not want the data exchanged over those platforms because of confidentiality issues. Instead, we used a tried and true customer satisfaction survey process administered by a web partner with the data flowing into a highly secure collection and storage system. Because so much data on outstanding contracts and their strengths and weaknesses are in this system, we have been subjected to many, many hacking attacks. All attacks have failed.

The Baker’s Dozen Customer Satisfaction Ratings™ are based upon actual customer feedback in three dimensions: the breadth of service or sub-processes contracted, the size of deal or volume of the services contracted, and most importantly, quality of service. The overall score is calculated by an algorithm that takes into account what items or issues were the most important to the HR leaders taking the surveys over the last decade. Basing a system entirely on public perceptions can lead to some interesting outcomes, and we have sparingly used our discretion to reject surveys that are too good -or too bad -to be effective feedback. However, the ranking is based on YOUR feedback as actual customers, not the opinion of analysts. Analyst reports often provide great depth and background about the market since the analysts do study the space; However, the data they use for verification is from a few clients of any given provider and hardly pose a large enough sample to snap providers to a grid and accurately advise you, the end user.

As for the inherent conflict of interest of the analysts selling consultation to the companies they rate, it doesn’t mean they are being dishonest, but they are human. In fairness, we also take advertising spend from the companies we rate, but ONLY the research staff is involved in the actual rating process. In the final weeks before the announcement, the publishing or sales function will solicit sales of sponsorship for the announcement videos and things like that, but sometimes the video sponsors are lined up a year before. We go to great pains to keep a firewall in the process between market ranking and our commercial interests. Also, only our VP of research and I have access to the actual data on client identities, as confidentiality is paramount. Some providers criticize our program, but only in years where they don’t do well. When they rank highly, we are the best thing ever.

According to our recent reader survey, over 93% of HRO Today readers use at least one Baker’s Dozen Customer Satisfaction Rating™ in their selection of service providers, and most use more than one. We are proud of that record and recognize the tremendous responsibility we have to get it right. Our credibility rose steadily to over 90% and has been there for years, and we will continue to honor that respect and work to maintain that level of quality.

Tags: HR Outsourcing, HRO Today Baker’s Dozen, Magazine Article, May-2021

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