You are not dating your vendor

One of the ongoing refrains of the analyst job is listening to clients gripe, day in and day out, about the things they don’t like about their vendors. Sometimes these things are niggling annoyances. Sometimes, though, these things are rage-inducing, or, in clients who tend to take everything calmly in stride, at least a distinct issue that materially impacts the service that they receive.

Sometimes these issues are recurring problems with a given vendor. I can tell you, for instance, that Vendor X has a process and organizational structure in place which essentially incentivizes its operations staff to kick requests from department to department without anyone being accountable for problems being resolved; unsurprisingly, this results in long resolution times for complex cross-functional issues, and frustrated customers. If you are with Vendor X, it’s something that you have to live with, since Vendor X’s internal politics do not permit fixing the core problem.

Sometimes, however, these issues are out of the ordinary, and would benefit from escalation. However, the majority of the time, the customer has generally not said anything to their provider about the issues they’re having — even if they’re so unhappy they’re planning to leave. Or if they’ve said something, they haven’t escalated into management. They don’t want to rock the boat, or disrupt the “relationship”. They’d rather suffer.

Since I have executive-level contacts at most of the service providers that our clients use, I usually offer to put such clients in touch with someone at their vendor who can see to it that real attention gets paid to the problem. Generally, unless their project is on the brink of failure, clients refuse that offer. Sometimes, they’ll permit me to raise the issue with the vendor, in a more anonymous fashion — i.e., something that doesn’t identify them personally, but which might provide just enough of a hint that the vendor can figure out who it is they ought to be helping.

I don’t get this. You are not dating your vendor. If you wait for them to bring you roses and chocolate, you are going to be disappointed. They will not read your mind, or recognize that you are quietly sulking and waiting for them to notice just how hurt you are and beg you to love them again. You are paying what is sometimes an egregious amount of money for services, and you deserve to get what you’re paying for.

To the vendors who wonder why they get anonymized passed-on complaints from analysts: It’s because analysts can be sort of like a combination of newspaper advice columnists, girl-gossip circles, and therapists. We can only do so much to coax clients into being honest with their vendors.

To the IT buyers out there: When you’re dealing with vendor frustrations, why do you seethe in silence, rather than complaining and escalating?

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Posted on April 16, 2009, in Industry and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Luckily enough, I discovered your blog You are not dating your vendor CloudPundit: Massive-Scale Computing. Very interesting contribution. Looks good to me. I have read a few of your other posts and they are all informative too – keep up the good work. Thanks a lot for helping to bring awareness to the need for real solutions.

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