For CRAs operating in the background screening industry, time is always of the essence. When your customers need to make a new hire, the last thing they want is to be held up waiting for the results of a criminal records check. Yet if you’re like many CRAs, one of the main sources of complaints, misunderstandings, and confusion among your customers is related to turnaround times (TATs). How is it that one request can take well under 24 hours while another can take 5 days or far more?
As a provider of public records research to CRAs, we spend a lot of time optimizing and managing TATs. We’ve learned quite a bit along the way about the importance of transparency and communication. The last thing your customers want is to be left in the dark, wondering when and if their results will arrive.
Here are some helpful ways to talk to your clients about TAT:
1. Explain that not all research can be completed online.
In an ideal world, we could access the exact information we need from each of the nation’s 3,000+ courthouses online. If this were the case, turnaround times would be a breeze and we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. In the real world, each courthouse of the more than 3,000 counties in the United States can and does do things differently—both in terms of what information they make available online and in terms of whether they make any information at all available online. This factor alone causes disparities in turnaround times from county to county. When we can’t get what we need online, we have to send researchers to the court house to hand search the dockets, obtain information from an on-site portal, or wait for a clerk to pull the necessary information.
2. Help them understand how the availability of PII impacts turnaround time and overall availability of public records.
An important consideration when it comes to turnaround time is the growing trend toward removing personally identifiable information (PII) in court records. As the nation adopts increasingly stringent privacy legislation, many courts have followed suit by reevaluating and changing public access records policies to more strongly protect PII. Tightening access or redacting PII from public indexes stems from a desire to protect individual privacy and reduce the potential for identity theft. However, it also impacts turnaround time for criminal records screening by making it more difficult or sometimes impossible to match a record to an individual with 100% accuracy.
3. Provide accurate turnaround times right up front.
When customers know what to expect at the outset, they are better able to manage expectations within their own organizations. Even if it means you have to tell them a timeframe that is longer than they might want, for example 3 days instead of 1, it’s usually better to set realistic expectations. If your customer knows that a background check will take 3 days to return, they can then inform the hiring manager and the applicant, explain the reason for the timeframe, and avoid the frustration that naturally comes when people are forced to wait for an unknown or unexplained period of time.
At Wholesale Screening Solutions, we strive to offer transparency into the research we provide to our customers. Letting you know exactly what is happening across the jurisdictions we serve and what our capabilities are as a result, allows you to better manage your clients’ expectations. And that’s good for everyone.