17
Dec
09

Customer “not always right” shock!

And while I’m in the mood to take pot shots at sacred cows I feel obliged to point out that neither are they “the king” nor do they always come first.

Time and again customer appeasement protagonists have fallen into the trap of making these (and no doubt other) ridiculous blandishments.  It is somewhat ironic that such slogans, mantras and mottos have rarely served a greater purpose than to paper over cracks in a suppliers post-sales support.  In far too many cases they amount to no more than a feebly thin form of sycophancy (as if there is any other).

So (just for a minute) suspend your disbelief, don your “I’m a Customer” hat and consider this:

Do you really want a supplier, for anything that is in any way important or strategic, to believe that you are always right?

The right thing to do, the right way to do it and the right time to act.  All the time.

Really?

Such a servile relationship is hardly the best foundation for developing competitive advantage; sycophancy virtually guarantees antagonism rather than synergy.

A customer-supplier relationship that is worth more than the paper the invoice is printed on has to be based on both parties acting in the best interests of each other.  A customer that is always telling thwarts a supplier’s ability to add real value.  Likewise a supplier that is always looking for selling opportunities is unlikely to be truly focused on the matter in hand.

The customer-supplier relationship should be a meeting of minds and not a battle of wills.  At the same time it must be an open, fear-free relationship where both parties can present their views and discuss the options.

The resultant whole will then be greater than the sum of the parts and this increases the likelihood of success rather than diminishing the potential returns.

Choose your suppliers carefully and ensure that they have the mettle and confidence to speak their mind and tell you what you need to know.

Michael Hart Michael Hart is a Senior Associate at Vivid London.

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