Why I want Zebras for customers, and not just because…

Zebras are majestic, unique, and beautiful.

The software-as-a-service industry caters products and services to the bell curve of customer requirements—our industry calls this vanilla service model of product and service capabilities “the box.” Little emphasis or focus is placed on handling the out-of-the-box situations or unique customer service requirements because a limited service model is much easier to develop, implement, and support. A simplified product and service model with an assembly-line support infrastructure yields improved profitability and lower costs, right? This of course means that all customers have to be shoe-horned into “the box.” This “one size shoe that fits all” mentality may work for some organizations, but it doesn’t work for all because this is often the reason organizations contact my company—PeopleGuru. At PeopleGuru, we’ve affectionately nicknamed these unique organizations “Zebras.”

A Zebra’s stripes are as unique as fingerprints, and no two are exactly alike.

So what makes an organization a Zebra? We define a Zebra as a client that requires more flexibility in their benefit administration, payroll, time and labor, and/or HR product and service model. Often these organizations have unique policies or procedures that are of cultural significance and provide a unique competitive advantage—policies and procedures that these organizations firmly believe are worth preserving. Zebras are often forced to resort to labor intensive manual administration of their unique needs outside of their core systems. Organizations like a 1,000 employee health insurer with a generous but unique 401K company match eligibility requirement that is subject to an annual look-back of earnings and hours paid. This same organization has a paid time off accrual policy with more complexity than is the industry norm and an online benefit enrollment process with tons of employee choice. Or a beach resort that employs 900 who when facing a serious compliance dilemma and substantial wage and hour fine, engaged PeopleGuru to preserve their long standing practice of assigning wait staff to both the banquet and the restaurant during the same shift. Another is a 750 employee home improvement contractor that records hours and jobs in the field and feeds this data real-time to an in-house system.

All Zebras have two things in common; they choose to be Zebras, and they take great offense to being treated like they aren’t.

Zebras have excellent senses; they can even see at night and in color.

It’s my opinion that our Zebras are more industry savvy and competitive. They don’t swim upstream or create policies to be difficult. They see opportunity where others miss it, and they operate their business with a unique competitive advantage because of it. Yes, it is true that Zebras really take advantage of PeopleGuru’s unique product and service capabilities, and we love each other because of it. And we are always welcoming new Zebra clients.

Of course, you don’t have to be a Zebra to be a PeopleGuru customer, since we literally serve thousands of organizations that aren’t. Then again, you may find peace of mind knowing you can show your Zebra stripes in the future if you ever need to.

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