Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Vendor, Confidant, Consultant, or Partner

Bob Dylan wrote ...
"You may be a business man or some high degree thief
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief.

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody."

It's true. We will all serve somebody. Especially true if your business is a professional service!

Service is really about people (either the server or the served); relationships (genuine or perceived) impact the outcome. As Dylan wrote, "You may be a business man or some high degree thief. They may call you Doctor, or they may call you Chief." Each implies a level of trust and position. Certainly, none of us want to be thought the thief.  Although contracts may be between companies, all services are between people. As we begin new relationships, we must recognize that people have some damage from the past relationships that influence their perceptions. When one party has been burned before, they may assume the other something slightly above thief until proven otherwise. To move beyond this level, one must earn a level of trust. 

When beginning a new service for a new client, we must recognize our starting position. I'll wager that most service providers begin at the position of vendor. A vendor can be chosen with a very low level of commitment and trust. Vendors can easily be replaced. At this level, there is also a low tolerance for misunderstandings or mistakes. A misunderstanding could be confirmation that the server is not to be trusted. Our goal should be to serve with excellence, earn trust and develop the relationship. As trust develops, we can become a consultant and may be invited into a deeper relationship. Perhaps we reach the level of trusted partner. A partner is someone who has skin in the game, is known to be committed to the well being and protection of the other. When mistakes happen, the service is evaluated by the response and how the issues are handled rather than a perception of past sins .  High trust and relationships are built through exceptional service.

It's established. We are all going to serve somebody. If our goal is to provide the best experience, we should strive to be a partner. When we strive to be a partner, we must earn trust through exceptional service. To do this, we must always strive to protect our clients best interest. We should also be thankful for those who have been partners to us.

1 comment:

  1. Great article. I agree that business is about personal relationships, and I liked your thoughts about how we start as vendors to new clients, and especially your insight about how new clients have a past history that you may be colored with until you prove yourself. Good stuff.