Mirror Mirror on the Wall, am I the Best Supplier of All?
September 11, 2013
As a Virtual Assistant, the suppliers I work with have the ability to make my job a lot easier, or a lot harder, and can have a direct impact of the impression my clients have of the services I provide. Like you, I rely on my suppliers delivering. Here’s the thing though, do I meet my same list of non-negotiable criteria? And you … think about who your best suppliers are, why are you loyal to them and what sets them apart from their competition?
Before we go any further, have a think about your non-negotiable criteria for your suppliers. For me the list includes:
- The ability to meet deadlines
- Excellent customer service
- Great value for money
- A willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty
With that in mind, now think about how your own company stacks up against what you look for in your suppliers. If you were a customer of your own company what could you expect in terms of service?
Take an honest look at the service you provide. No individual or company is perfect, myself definitely included! But having the ability to step back and look at yourself from a customer’s perspective is invaluable. Do you set the same high standards on your own service that you demand from your suppliers?
Answer the questions below from the perspective of your clients. Then take it a step further and ask a number of your own clients to answer the same questions. Be absolutely honest when you answer these, if you have staff or a virtual team ask for their input … even brain storm around the questions. The more information, comments, opinions and feedback you can get about your service, the better equipped you will be to blow your competition right out of the water!
The following questions are ones I feel important for my own clients’ satisfaction in regard to my services. You may have different questions which relate to the particular product or service you provide:
- Do you feel your business is appreciated?
- Do you feel you have received great value for money when approving our invoices?
- When a problem comes up (and they do!) how satisfied are you with how we deal with the problem?
- When you’ve asked for something out of the ordinary, have we risen to meet your needs?
- Do we have a ‘can do’ attitude or are we more likely to jump in and explain why something can’t be done?
- Do you ‘like’ us on a personal level? Are we easy people to deal with and approachable?
- Are our staff happy, professional and well trained?
- Do we consistently deliver, on time and on budget?
- What can we do better? Can you think of an instance where we haven’t met your expectations?
- What are we absolutely awesome at (um, if anything!)?
Armed with answers to the above questions, you can now start your list of changes needed in order to be the ‘best supplier of em all’. Look at both immediate and long term solutions, what can you change today to improve your service immediately and what strategies and projects need to be planned to fix long term, underlying problems. Look at premises or location, whether you need more staff or a better training plan, is there a problem with a particular product, do your systems get in place of great customer services … how important is a happy customer to your company?
At the end of the day, know why a prospect would choose you over your competition, know why your clients choose to be loyal to you and make sure you reward that trust and loyalty with your service.
Your Turn: What criteria is non-negotiable for you when choosing a supplier?