11 Aug The Evolution Of The Customer Vendor Relationship
As the digital needs of consumers have vastly evolved, so too has the once straightforward customer vendor relationship. Today it’s essential for brands to go beyond supply and demand needs. For those that have evolved, success has meant developing a holistic and interpersonal relationship with their clients and vendors.
A decade ago, vendors sold products and customers bought them. Whether it was hardware or software-in-a-box, it was essentially a transaction, much like buying a toaster and a loaf of bread. Once you had the essentials, you’d be left to make the toast at home yourself.
Today, the vendor is your dietitian, personal chef and restaurant server. Your one stop shop. Working to cultivate a long-term relationship with you. Those vendors who have the correct formula are seen trusted advisors who consult with each customer to find out exactly what they need, then build a solution and continue to service it. Ensuring continuity through innovation for a brands journey. In the digital space, this may involve, at least from a Hostworks’ perspective working closely with a customer to understand their needs, challenges and implement solutions that are agile enough to change and adapt to the customers’ ever growing needs and keeping at the forefront of technology. Giving customers reliability and peace of mind. Helping them find, build and fix problems. As we say here at Hostworks, we don’t believe that technology changes the world. People do.
Natasha Jacobs, Account Manager at Hostworks, says developing a strong customer relationship is a much more holistic and involved process than before. “It’s more about shifting focus. A two-way communication, listening to the customer and providing the ‘best’ service or solution around that customer’s needs –often in difference to a customer’s expectations. The vendor becomes more of a partner, with the ability to create bespoke solutions. A customer may want only require a few features out of a larger service we sell, in which case, we can provide just those features and provide the customer with savings.”
Customer = Customise
Customisation is critical. The industry has recognised that there’s no one-size-fits-all any more. Suppliers such as Hostworks offer a wide smorgasbord of solutions. If customers want or require Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM or Google Cloud, then Hostworks will design build and operate a best fit solution to meet this brief. Even if a hybrid outcome is the best option.
Different needs require different service agreements. Some companies may be using cloud hosting primarily for backup and disaster recovery. Others have high traffic and require 100 per cent uptime at critical moments. Whilst SLA’s help guide parameters of focus and work they do not govern outcomes.
Hostworks supports some of Australia’s largest online ticketing outlets, where uptime is crucial. As the predominant channel of revenue across flights, movies, concerts and hotels, any problem with the site’s engagement will cost them a considerable amount of business and revenue. Having service management protocols in place, we can mitigate and pre-empt risks,” Jacobs says.
Vendors also need to keep an eye on the future. It’s vital that they remain at the forefront of technology so they can always offer the latest and best in innovation.
You need to stay innovative so you won’t fall behind. The customer is relying on you to keep track of the newest and best out there – we’re the technology experts,” Jacobs explains.
Staying In Touch
No solution is 100 per cent guaranteed, which is why working with vendors who are seen as trusted advisors, allows for agility and security in knowing that solutions can be changed and adapted accordingly without impacting on BAU. Whilst maintaining transparency and close contact if any issues do arise is very important.
“Responding immediately, letting customers know you do care about their business, and clearly communicating status updates when resolving issues is key. Hostworks has stringent practices and policies in place to ensure that customers are at the forefront of engagement.” Jacobs says.
The key to understanding customers is actually listening to them. The era of telling a customer what they need and expecting them to hand over their money and walk away is long gone.
Hostworks focuses on more enduring partnerships with customers. By offering customised cloud hosting and managed solutions, there’s more flexibility for businesses to find the right solutions they need.