Last week I was talking with a friend who is the Director of HR for an eleven million dollar company. They are trying to find an applicant tracking system to replace their current solution, and he asked me for some advice on where to start his search. He spent several hours looking around the web, scouring Google, and checking in with friends (hence the call to me). After all of that searching, all he had was a headache from the various frustrations he met during his search. While the experiment is quite informal, I think it’s an interesting peek into the mind of your average customer.

Why he’s changing platforms

He has been really happy with the applicant tracking system his company is using, but they have slowly started “premiumizing” the basic features he has come to rely on to get his daily work done. Bit by bit it was an acceptable nuisance because the basic price fit his budget and it was a tool the company had used for three years successfully.

We all know the truth, though. Businesses change. Products change. That’s part of life.

However, the new pricing model is built not on how much the system is used from a recruiting standpoint (number of applicants, job postings, recruiters, etc.), but on how many employees the company has. My friend is having trouble making sense of why that is the driving factor of the price when it isn’t relevant to the duties of a recruiter.

To be blunt, he feels slighted by the company that he has put his credibility on the line for, because he now has to request additional funds to purchase another system, train hiring managers to use it, and find out how to import legacy data into the platform.

I’m certain the new prices are going to fit some customers well, but it isn’t something that he can fit into his budget, so he’s on the hunt.

Lack of pricing information

Like pretty much every business decision, one of the initial hurdles is budget-based. In other words, can we afford it? However, even a simple question like that is virtually impossible to answer in a cursory review of some of the applicant tracking websites out there. Here are some of the questions that surfaced:

  • So how is this pricing model determined again?
  • How much will it actually cost? Is there a setup fee? What’s the annual cost? Is there a discount?
  • The website says “free trial,” but I have to give them a credit card number to test it out—I don’t know if I trust them enough to give them that information just yet.

Lack of feature description

The next priority is feature set. Will this do what we need it to do?

  • The website doesn’t have any screenshots. I need to see the user interface to see if it’s going to be intuitive for the recruiting team, hiring managers, and candidates.
  • It lists a key feature I need, but it doesn’t tell me what tiers the feature is available for.
  • I’d really like to see a demo or video tutorial, but all of that stuff is locked behind a sales rep. I don’t want to get on someone’s telemarketing list—I just want to look at the application.

Do your potential customers a favor

Have someone who is unfamiliar with your product visit your site and the sites of two or three of your competitors. They need to be looking for standard information: pricing, features, etc.

Without prompting or leading them, allow them to try and see how quickly they can find the information they are seeking and track how long it takes to do that.

If they have trouble finding the information, then a change might be necessary. Don’t do it for me–do it for your customers.

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  • 2 thoughts on “Vendors: Why Your Customers Hate You

    1. Absolutely! This is one of the most frustrating things about my job. I vet a product, recommend it, train on it and within two years there are big changes to the platform or the pricing structure. I get the “I thought that you looked at this” look from my boss when I send through the changes. What a bummer! I would love to be able to look at things on my own time and THEN schedule an appointment to go over it with them. For a while I would take calls and make appointments for all sorts of new systems, but it wound up taking so much of my time I now have a “shopping” month in February to look at everything.

      Great post!

      • @Sayward That sounds like a winning plan. It’s surprising how many providers would balk at these actions on a personal level if it happened to them, but they are oblivious to these changes when they’re the ones making the decisions.

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