Working with a sub-par vendor is a waste of time and money — and in certain areas, it could put you at risk of legal ramifications. So what should you be looking for to avoid the trouble?
From conversations with our current clients, potential prospects and companies across multiple industries, we set out to answer that question. Here are the three areas we’ve found are most likely to cause pain.
Service is paramount to having a good vendor relationship. An integral part of service is having open lines of communication with your point of contact, such as an account manager; this improves the quality of work and allows feedback to be given on any aspect of the project or relationship. Some large vendors tend to ignore (or at least de-prioritize) smaller companies because they don’t see them as a big money maker. No matter the size, account managers should have a quick, reliable response window that allows communications to be handled in an efficient manner.
Vendors should be able to resolve any changes you need or questions you may have. There needs to be an open line of communication keeping you up to date on issues that arise and aspects that may change in the vendor’s processes. The relationship between you and your vendor should not be contentious or difficult; rather, it should be a mutually beneficial relationship that both parties want to last.
When dealing with financials, reliable processes are essential to ensure the proper amount is paid and collected by the correct parties, as well as keeping end-customer satisfaction high. Billing issues and errors cost your company time, resources and reputation in the eyes of affected customers and their connections.
When vendors mishandle the collection of payments from your end-customers, the onus falls on you. For example, if a customer is paying with a credit card online and there is a convenience fee, a sub-par vendor may mistakenly charge the customer twice for the same fee. The customer would call your company thinking that it is your fault and demand the money back. Then, time and resources will need to be spent to track down the source of the issue and refund the money — an issue that isn’t present when working with a quality vendor in the first place. Reconciling payments becomes troublesome as well because of all the inaccuracies on the vendor’s part in payment collection.
Ease of payment on the client side is also a top priority. If your vendor does not offer electronic payments hosted in a central portal that allows you to access multiple facets of the project, you are missing out on the ability to make payments quickly and easily, as well as gaining visibility to drafts of future projects and records of past ones. Along the same vein as money and electronic offerings, if your vendor does not offer electronic presentment of statements to customers, large savings on postage and materials are being missed out on.
When it comes to choosing a vendor to partner with, it’s costly to get it wrong.
When a vendor is reliable, they are consistent with the quality of work, meet agreed-upon deadlines, and perform their duties without putting your company at any legal risk. All of the parameters set during the kickoff meeting need to be followed “to a tee.”
Vendors should have quality control processes in place to verify their output, along with dependable equipment. Our clients expressed that with previous vendors, statements intended for one recipient would end up in the hands of a completely different customer. Depending on the type of personal data on the statement (and your industry regulations), this could open your company up to legal issues, such as violations of HIPAA, PIA, or other regulations across industries. Through QC equipment like 2-D barcode scanning, an intricate camera system, and measures to review and correct inserted mail before release, top partners can ensure reliability, seamlessly.
Reliability is equally essential with regards to online communications. When dealing with electronic information, it’s crucial for vendors to have the correct encryptions and firewalls in place to securely store sensitive information — along with processes to recall specific information or full records from previous projects if need be. You — and your customers — must be able to trust that information online will be delivered to the right person at the right time, as securely as needed.
Delays in processing or completely missing drop dates is unacceptable. These pitfalls can have a cascading effect on other projects the vendor is handling for your company and cost a substantial amount of money. This is one of the most prominent issues with vendors, and it’s easily avoidable if they have the correct equipment and processes in place.
If you see any of these warning signs in your vendor relationship, it’s time to move on. Need to evaluate your options? Feel free to schedule a no-cost consultation with us here!