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Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 12:19 am | A Few Clouds 49º


John Daly: Keeping Open Lines of Communication in Business

Much has been written about how businesses should handle their customers. The old adage, “The customer is always right” sometimes wears a bit thin. Here’s why.

Look at yourself from a vendor’s perspective. You (the vendor) jump through hoops to get your client what he or she needs. Whether you burn the midnight oil or drop everything to make it happen, you get it done.

You do this especially when your client tells you that he or she is on a very short deadline. Helping the client achieve his or her goals is paramount. So, you do it.

Then what? Very often, you sit and wait, way past the early deadline that you achieved. You wonder for days if what you’ve provided is acceptable. You start to feel as if you should have provided something more or better. The silence is deafening.

You finally break down and send an email inquiring whether the client is happy. A few days later you get a terse, “I’m waiting to get feedback from my team.” Now keep in mind, this is about a week after you were told that the client had to make a critical deadline.

Another week passes, and you have no clue if the customer needs more work or requires you to send an invoice. My point is simple. Customers have a responsibility to their vendors to provide open lines of communication on a project.

If you are waiting for feedback, simply shoot off a quick email that says, “Got your submission. Am waiting for feedback from the team. Thank you for your quick efforts in consideration of my deadline. Will get back to you as soon as I have it.”

That simple message takes all the wonder and worry off a vendor’s shoulders.

If the “critical” deadline changes, the client should let the vendor know that he or she has a wee bit more time than first anticipated. The vendor will greatly appreciate your consideration.

Small gestures like the message above spell “respect” and go such a long way to create loyalty and long-lasting relationships. Isn’t that what you want when you find a superior provider?

One of my recommendations to vendors, particularly with regard to proposals, is to include a response date indicating that the proposal and its pricing are only valid until a specific time.

There is nothing more frustrating than the “hurry up and wait” scenario that often occurs. This is when the client has an urgent deadline, the vendor complies and provides a very extensive proposal and then hears nothing back well past the required deadline.

This can include any work. For instance when a vendor provides the work, include a caveat. Always indicate that if you don’t hear back from the client by a specific date that you will assume that the work has been accepted and approved and that the customer will be billed accordingly.

This applies to the example provided above quite well.

According to business expert Richard Grimes, vendors want:

» Respect — As illustrated above.

» Consistency — Vendors know that some of them are treated as commodities and others as partners, and they understand that. However, what they do not want is to be treated one way one day and the other way the next. That inconsistency causes many problems.

» Guilt-free profit — Vendors need to make a profit, too, if they are to stay in business and support their clients. If deals are only structured to benefit the customer, do not expect the vendor to invest their best resources in the account.

To all clients, assuming that you are consistent and understand everyone is in it to make a profit, don’t let the third component (respect) slip through the cracks when dealing with vendors.

— John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the keys to life skills success. Click to learn more about The Key Class, or to buy his book. John’s new book, 74 Key Life Skills for a Happy, Successful Life, will be out this fall. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook and follow John on Twitter @johnjdalyjr. Do you have a question about business or social etiquette? Ask John at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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