If you’re like many CRAs, you don’t sit around questioning or evaluating your public records research providers. As long as the results are coming in and clients aren’t complaining, there’s no reason to think they are doing anything other than a fine job.
That is, until something goes wrong.
A good client suddenly leaves due to increasingly unpredictable turnaround times. Another faces an unforeseen lawsuit and you suddenly realize your provider doesn’t have their research practices buttoned-up and well-documented. Or there’s a catastrophic event that results after an employer unknowingly hires an unsafe or unqualified person, relying on data you sold and assumed was accurate.
Public records research isn’t a perfect science. However, there are a handful of essential qualities your public records research provider should embody. These qualities should be able to help with:
- protecting your business and your clients from avoidable loss and harm;
- defending your business practices in the case of litigation;
- and simply enabling you to help your clients make informed decisions on the basis of quality, timely, affordable data.
If you’ve come to a point in the relationship with your research provider, in one jurisdiction or many, where it’s time to re-evaluate or establish a new partner, here are 5 key questions to ask yourself:
1. Does my provider have an established quality program?
Without a very high level of quality, you are at risk of losing customers, your customers are at risk of making poor decisions, and the harsh reality is, people’s lives, livelihoods and safety could also be at risk. A defined and regimented quality program allows you to have greater confidence in the data you receive, it can allow you to scale your business more quickly, experience fewer mistakes or defects, and receive consistent and predictable results.
Read about the benefits of Wholesale Screening Solutions’ quality program here: http://www.wholesalescreening.com/blog/quality-program-benefits/
2. Do they offer transparency into the metrics I need?
Does your public records research provider give you access to the data you really need to manage customer expectations, predict turnaround times, and make smarter business decisions? Or does the experience better resemble a black box where you submit your orders and are left to wonder when the results might come back? A transparent process will give you visibility into work-in-progress, turnaround times, daily volume, and more.
Read about our FuseDash here: http://www.wholesalescreening.com/blog/whats-on-your-dashboard/
3. Can they tell me their current quality record?
To consistently deliver accurate data in this business, your provider must have a rigorous framework, a clear process for applying corrective actions to defects, and a commitment to continuous improvement. We contend that you and your provider should have a finger on the pulse of quality. Does your provider measure quality? Are they willing to share those metrics with you in an open and transparent way?
Learn how Wholesale Screening Solutions takes a Six Sigma data-driven approach to methodically eliminate defects from our processes: http://www.wholesalescreening.com/blog/3-pillars-quality/
4. Do they invest in technology and product innovation?
The background screening industry isn’t necessarily known for its innovations, but failure to innovate inevitably leads entire companies and industries to die. Consider this quote from a Forbes magazine article explaining why U.S. firms are dying from lack of innovation:
“In a world in which power in the marketplace has shifted to customers and customers insist on “better, cheaper, faster, smaller, more convenient and more personalized,” failure to give priority to innovation is an organizational death warrant.”
If your research provider fails to innovate, where will that leave your organization?
Read about product innovation at Wholesale Screening Solutions here: http://www.wholesalescreening.com/blog/product-innovation/
5. Can they support my organization in case of litigation or compliance issues?
As a more litigious, more highly-regulated, and increasingly complex compliance environment takes shape, your role as a CRA has transformed. While not on the front lines of the consumer reporting and hiring decision-making process, public records research providers play an important supporting role.
Consider these points:
- The foundation of FCRA compliance relies on accurate, complete data.
- In the event of regulatory enforcement or private legal action, you need to be able to lean on your public records research provider’s process for retrieving accurate and complete data.
Will your provider’s current processes help or hinder your compliance efforts?
Read more about the role of public records research providers helping or hindering your compliance efforts: http://www.wholesalescreening.com/blog/public-records-research-compliance/
When it comes to evaluating your research provider, don’t want until it’s too late. Be proactive, ask questions, and seek the transparency you need to do your job well.