Whether you’re working with the vendors moving your products or setting up agreements with vendors for the products you need, getting the right relationship in place is almost as important as finding the right vendor. You need to know that any proprietary data, as well as your client list, are protected and that your client concerns are well-managed.
Study Their Data Protection Protocol
If your vendor is working directly with the end-user, how is the client data protected? What are the payment protection services? Who handles the customer service concerns, and how is that information logged.
Happy customers who are confident that their financial data is safe and securely managed are repeat customers. Any data breach that is fully communicated can cost you sales, and any that isn’t can cost you your reputation. If you’re not certain of their protection protocols, end the relationship. Online shopping is quickly becoming the primary shopping method out there, and you need to be absolutely certain that your products and services are protected by all who are connected to them.
Log Complaints Effectively
Careful complaint management is also important, whether it’s your complaints to suppliers via their vendors or your customer concerns. You will need to carefully review your vendor complaint tracking procedure to be certain that any concerns from your clients are
- dated and fully transcribed
- responded to effectively
- studied for systemic concerns
- corrected, refunded, or otherwise addressed
Unhappy customers are more likely to leave a review than a happy customer, so getting on top of bad customer experiences quickly is crucial to the effective management of your reputation. One bad review can linger for a long time, so do your best to get formerly dissatisfied customers to at least note that the problem was resolved or they were refunded their money on a bad review.
Note Customer Service Hours
Before you sign up with a vendor, take a look at their customer service hours. If they’re available via phone from 8 to 8, call in to see how long it takes to talk to a person.. If you wind up stuck in a recording loop over lunch or after 5 pm, they may be understaffed or poorly staffed at those times, and it’s time for them to leverage up.
Access to in-person customer service, via chat or over the phone, is particularly crucial if you have an older clientele. If the product you’re selling is popular among tech-savvy demographics, an in-person chat or phone connection may not be as valuable for your business, but older clients often need a bit more personal connection.
Look for Vendors Planning Expansion
If you’re searching for a vendor to get your product out into the world, seek out someone who’s looking to add employees. When you call that vendor, do you start out with a recording or with real people? Small-shop vendors can reduce your costs, but if they cost you customers for your products because an overworked office drops the ball, you’re not really saving much.
Consider how quickly your representative responds, where they contact you from, and how large their personal territory is. Work to build a regular communication schedule with your rep and with their support staff, and note if there’s a lot of turnover among support staff.
Work With a Vendor Manager
If your company requires software or supplies from multiple manufacturers or developers, work with a vendor management team that can limit the hands-on time that you need to commit to these connections.
A vendor management team is critically important if you’re leveraging up your software use, making a big change in platforms, or adding personnel. For example, if you are a manufacturer that uses different software packages for
- design / layout
- prospect management
or any other data tracking, these software platforms may or may not come packaged. Additionally, your industry needs may require you to branch out. Don’t be limited by the need to bring in another software connection.
Your business runs on data, and an IT vendor manager can make it much easier to manage connections to keep your employees connected and producing. An IT software manager can help you reduce downtime, track complaints in and out, and better build the relationships you need to keep your business going and growing.