TechTalk

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Trust Your Vendors

It’s important to find vendors you trust and respect, for everything your company needs. That’s because vendors provide not only products and services, but also the experience and knowledge that ensures the products and services are deployed in a way that best serves your business. This applies to everything from office supplies to marketing, but is especially true when you’re dealing with something you don’t know much about – which for many people includes network infrastructure.

Of course, trust isn’t given – it’s earned. When beginning to work with a new vendor, checking references and reading testimonials is helpful. Over time, you and the vendor will hopefully build a relationship built on mutual trust. Here are some of the things to consider.

 Quality and value

The cliché “you get what you pay for” applies to many products and services, especially IT. It’s important to consider quality and value of what you’re receiving, not just price point. That said, limited budgets are often a reality. But when your vendor asks, “what’s your budget for this project,” you should give a straight answer, rather than hoping the quote will come in lower than what you’re expecting. Credible vendors will let you know what your options are and the advantages of disadvantages of each – including cost – and won’t waste your money.

In IT, often a solution can be designed to be scalable – so that future improvements will build on the solution, rather than having to scrap it and start over. When working with an IT vendor, make sure you explain your future plans as well as your current needs. Quality vendors want to know all about your business and its challenges, focusing on your needs rather than their own. Being clear on your budget and future plans will allow your vendor to develop the most cost-effective solution for the short- and long-term.

Reliability of network and network speed

Not all networks are created equal. When comparing proposals from IT providers, it’s important to take a careful look at the reliability and speed of the networks they offer. DQE offers superior speed, as well as network redundancy — so in the event of a network failure, the network automatically detects and redirects to maintain continuous service.

The human factor

Less tangible, but still critical is how you feel about the people providing your products and services. You want vendors that treat you like “a name, not a number,” regardless of the size of your account. Prompt service should be available via phone or in person, and should be provided by someone who knows your business. Quality, personal service is a high priority to DQE, which is why we have service available 24X7X365.

For many of DQE’s clients, the fact that we’re based in Pittsburgh is meaningful. The economic benefits of doing business locally are well-known. But beyond that, our employees live here, and we are dedicated to the vitality of our region and the businesses here.

Communication

Clear communication between you and your vendor is the key to a successful relationship. It’s important to define responsibilities and expectations between you and the vendor – this helps keep projects on track, and avoid misunderstandings along the way.

You should be clear about what you want from your vendor, and be sure to answer all questions thoroughly without holding anything back. It’s unfair to expect the vendor to provide the best solution without all the information. In turn, the vendor should be transparent and open about their process, and explain in detail why they recommend certain products and services.

Continue talking even after the relationship is established. Your goal is to build a partnership with your vendor. If your business plans change in a way that might impact IT, let your vendor know sooner rather than later. This gives your vendor the chance to proactively suggest future solutions (which you can then plan and budget for), rather than having to react to an emergency situation.

If there is anything about your service that is in any way unsatisfactory, call your vendor, explain the problem, and give them an opportunity to address the issue. Do it as soon as you notice a problem, rather than waiting until the situation deteriorates! This doesn’t have to be confrontational or unpleasant, as good vendors will respond promptly and creatively to any issues. In some cases, finding a new vendor may become necessary — but consider the time and energy you’ve invested in this relationship so far. Is starting over really the best option?

Customer experience and overall satisfaction

The factors discussed above determine your overall satisfaction with the product or service – which is the paramount concern. Consider how your experience has been with this vendor. Do you enjoy working with them and feel they are responsive to your needs? What improvements might be made? Is there anything you can do to help your vendor help you? If you’re unhappy and the vendor won’t address the problem, what other options are there?

If you trust your vendor and are highly satisfied with your service, you can continue to build on that relationship by actively helping the vendor grow. Recommend that vendor, or even give them a call when you learn about a business opportunity that might be appropriate for them. They might even do the same for you.

Conclusion

Building relationships based on trust is a priority for DQE. It’s important that you feel your vendors are looking out for your company’s best interests in every way. Trust leads to customer loyalty, which is the ideal situation for all involved – whether you’re the vendor or the customer.

Tags: customer experience, IT, network infrastructure, support, vendors

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