Are bigger businesses better when it comes to customer service?
Gresham Storage Solutions is not a large organization and even though we have a three letter acronym – GSS – we are not known by this name or held in the same regard as EMC, IBM, SUN, etc, so I frequently hear people say things like “we only deal with big corporations” or “who is Gresham”. This is the plight of many organizations of similar size to Gresham Storage Solutions; to be dismissed not because of product quality or organizational capability but because smaller organizations don’t fit the stereotypical purchasing mold that some organizations have chosen to adopt. If you recognize this as being something that happens in your organization, read on…
I want to challenge the wisdom of this way of working and suggest that not only does such a mentality hinder your organization’s ability to procure the best products at the most competitive prices but it often leads to an overall poorer experience in the short, medium and long term. And, it is really that post-sale experience where I think things begin to unwind quickly because, if we are honest with ourselves, when has technology worked perfectly? So, it isn’t a matter of if you are going to have to call upon your vendor to help you resolve a problem but a matter of when. How they respond should speak volumes to the true value the company delivers.
Who answers the phone when you call?
If you are accustomed to working with large organizations you are likely used to someone picking up the phone, taking your details, asking you what is wrong and telling you that someone will get back to you. If you are lucky, you might get a bit better service and be subjected to a list of questions to determine if your problems falls into the list of problems that your vendor already knows about and has a documented solution for. Okay, you might get your problem resolved but it will probably take more time than need be and you almost certainly won’t come away feeling like your vendor sees you as an individual or a particularly special client. But, isn’t that something that you should expect!
The advantage that firms like Gresham Storage Solution offers clients is the ability to be as responsive to your needs as a large firm while never losing sight of the importance of giving customers the sense that they are unique and their business is valued. It is a relationship that extends well beyond the initial sale. It is the recognition that every client is valuable and every relationship must be treated with the utmost care to ensure that relationship is retained. You may think that this is an obvious statement driven by some sense that smaller businesses are dependent on a limited client base and therefore cannot afford to be losing customers but you might be surprised to find that in many cases you would be wrong. Gresham Storage Solutions, for example, serves numerous Fortune 500 and Global 2000 accounts. We have customers in many of the countries around the world. If we lost a customer it would not put us out of business or hamper us. Despite that fact, we don’t take our customers for granted. Each client is important, not because they are another dollar on the revenue line but because they have instilled their trust in us and our products to improve their operations and lower their operating costs; to become a trusted partner; a trust that we do not want to break.
How does your vendor respond when problems happen?
As I already said, chances are almost 100% that it is not a matter of if you are going to have a problem with a system you have bought but a matter of when. Therefore, it is imperative that you have confidence in your vendor’s ability to respond to your issues in a timely fashion and resolve them equally quickly. Here is another time when I would suggest that bigger does not mean better and, in fact, usually means quite the opposite.
Think back to that call you made to your three-letter vendor (i.e. EMC, IBM, etc) asking them to come on site, how long did that take? I am guessing that you will say that they were really quick but what did they do when they got there? Did they spend the time to understanding your problem and resolve it or did they spend the time to determine that it wasn’t their problem and told you to call someone else? I am guessing that it was probably the latter. This is yet another difference that more agile and responsive businesses offer over bigger organizations – the willingness to go beyond the confines of our own little section of real estate in a customers environment and explore where else the problem might lie; to uphold the spirit of the partnership with the customer that is based on knowing that when the going gets tough both parties are fully committed to seeing things through to resolution. Gresham Storage Solutions prides itself on approaching every problem with this degree of commitment and care. It is what sets us apart and makes us the trusted adviser of Fortune 500 accounts.
Do you have that confidence in your vendor? Do you receive that level of customer service? If you do, congratulations. If you don’t, you are probably being served by some large organization that is happy to take your money and tell you that they will be there for you when you need them most but when put to the test will likely fail to live up to your expectations. The easy way to avoid this type of bad experience, spend time understanding what your vendor is really willing to do for you; whether they really want to and can be a trusted adviser.