Do suppliers live up to their word? - a make or break issue for SMB

Living up to one's word is very important in business and one's personal life. While saying one thing and doing another can be very disappointing, it can kill a small to medium size firm.

Customers are pressed for time today and often have to build their whole life's schedule around an installation or customer service call. They expect that when a company says that a representative will come to do some work at a specific date and time, that someone possessing the right tools and skills will arrive when promised.

If that promise is broken without notice or if the representative has neither the tools nor the skills necessary to complete the task, customers will often cancel their order and walk away. Furthermore, it is likely that they'll make their displeasure heard by publishing unpleasant comments on social media sites. These satisfied customers are likely go to a more reputable supplier if one is available. This is true regardless of whether the product or service services retail, healthcare or IT equipment and services.

Before signing a contract, it would be very wise for a potential customer to review online reviews of a prospective supplier's products, services and learn from the experiences of others. Does the supplier have a track record of success - happy customers? Does the supplier's products and services actually do what was promised during the marketing and sales presentations? If not, it would be best to forgo the pleasure of doing business with that supplier.

In the past it was somewhat difficult to find a supplier's customers and contact them. Now it is fairly simple to do an internet search. It is straightforward to read what customers, journalists, consultants and analysts are saying about a supplier.

Companies with a long track record of success in the world of IT products and services, such as IBM, Dell and others, can point to years of satisfying customers. While a small firm might offer interesting product capabilities and features, ongoing customer support can make or break a small firm.

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This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.   



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