By: Frank Gonzalez | @frank_ez
This post originally appeared on IT Briefcase.
Retention is often talked about among IT professionals and organizations, given the ongoing transformations in the industry — which show no signs of slowing down. As outdated practices are replaced with newer technology trends, IT providers that aren’t agile enough to adapt their service offerings to the modern IT climate may get the boot from their customers.
More often, IT providers find themselves fired for reasons related to the relationship, rather than the quality of the service itself. Read on to learn more about the three reasons companies typically consider parting ways with their IT service providers.MISSING VALUE IN THE RELATIONSHIP
The best relationship between an IT provider and its customer is not a vendor or service provider relationship — it’s a true partnership. Strategic partnerships are fundamental to the success of both the IT business and the organizations it supports. An ideal IT service provider will care about an organization, its business goals and the people who make up the company.
Any successful partnership stems from strong individual relationships. Simply put, people like doing business with people they like. IT businesses that fail to actively work to build rapport with their client contacts are at greater risk of finding themselves fired. The best service providers get to know what their customers value — in all aspects of life, not just businesses.
Hosting an informal meeting or even a casual lunch to catch up on work (and non-work) related matters can be a great way to add value to client relationships. All relationships take hard work and dedication — and the relationship between customers and service providers is no different.
A DISCONNECT BETWEEN YOUR NEEDS & THEIRS
It’s essential for IT service providers to share a common end goal with their customers. The best IT service providers are willing to go above and beyond in order to help a company achieve its desired technology and business goals. An IT provider should not only listen to an organization’s needs, but also take note of its pain points.
An IT provider’s level of flexibility is a vital element in maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship. Think about it — no one likes an inflexible person, and similarly, no one likes an inflexible IT service partner. IT solutions must be able to adapt and grow as the client’s business grows in scale and scope.
Flexibility can be demonstrated in a variety of ways — from ease of scheduling service appointments to custom solutions that can be scaled up or down depending to the need at any given time. By staying in tune with a client’s needs and pain points, IT professionals are better able to offer tailored solutions to effectively serve each customer.
One way IT providers demonstrate flexibility is by being vendor-agnostic (and many are not — adding a headache for their customers, who have to manage multiple service provider contracts). Vendor-agnostic providers are able to service any brand of equipment, creating an all-inclusive experience for clients. It might require a bit more work and training upfront on the IT service provider’s end, but the benefits to the customer are tremendous.
Not only does it eliminate the frustration of managing multiple contracts from different Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), it can also increase the longevity of the partnership, since service providers are contracted to service all of a client’s technology over an extended period of time.
LACK OF TRUST AND RESPECT
It might seem like common knowledge, but trust is the foundation for a dependable partnership, and created from mutual respect. Trust between an IT provider and its customer allows the customer to focus on what they do best, with the IT provider focusing on the job at hand.
IT service providers should begin every new relationship with full transparency, avoiding hidden agendas or fees. Don’t be that IT service provider who just wants to upsell customers on services they might not need, in the interest of making a quick dollar. The best kind of service partners will make decisions or recommendations that are favorable for both parties (but first and foremost, the client!).
Another key to building a healthy, long-lasting business partnership is respect. To show respect, a IT provider that respects its customers will stay in constant communication with its customers, clearly communicating questions and updates. IT professionals should also try to “under-promise” and “over-deliver” on their deliverables, and only promise what is actually doable.
Delivering on promises (and on time) builds a greater level of respect between an IT provider and its clients. It also sets the IT company up for success for new business inquiries — reputation is everything, and a respected IT partner will likely win business over one with a questionable reputation.
While there are numerous reasons why a company might part ways with its service provider, IT professionals should remember that ending a business partnership might be more about the quality of the relationship (instead of the quality of the service itself). Partnerships, personal or business, requires a shared understanding and dedication to making the partnership a long-term success.
Through flexibility and adaptability, a good service partner will earn trust and supply clients with their highest quality of work to meet a client’s end goal. The next time you’re having a conversation about maintaining healthy and prosperous relationships, keep these considerations top of mind to avoid any fallout.