When The Main Contact Leaves

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 04:00 AM with 2 comments

Recently a couple of my vendors had changes in staffing. Where people leave all the time, in these cases it affected the level of service I received from these vendors.

Why did this happen? Why did the service-level change because the people change? The products and services of these vendors remained the same. In thinking about this, it came down to the fact that the true business relationship I had with the vendor was with these people, and not with the vendor itself.

So what did happen you may be asking? Both cases are unique, but have some similarities.

The first case involves an international company. When I started doing business with them, I was assigned a rep who was nothing short of top-notch. He initiated a phone conversation when I signed on with them, and would keep in touch often as to my needs involving their services. If I ever had a question, he would be on it, and would apologize when his replies were just more than a few hours from my inquiry or when he had a day off!

Then the vendor got acquired by another company that offered similar services, and the rep emailed me to let me know he was leaving for a better opportunity. Initially there was no word at all from the vendor, and then a repeating cycle started. I would receive a call from a new rep, introducing themselves and offering me a “package” deal on their products and services that did not make sense to me. A few months later, I would get a call from another new rep, and the same thing happened. In all cases, the rep was outside of the US, only left a long distance number and the only way I could reach them by phone was by placing an international call. One day when I needed to reach them, I tried several times by email, and that was a couple of months ago and I never received a call back. As their products and services work and I don’t need a rep to place an order, I am still with them. However, I am seeking out alternatives.

The second case is with a local vendor. When the manager left, service dropped. Where I was known on a first-name basis and the manager and we frequently discussed how their services could help my business, the new manager took the longest time to know my name, and has yet to sell me on anything. With the previous manager’s departure there was also a departure of other staff, and new hires were less than stellar. I am still with this vendor as it would require a big change to switch from them, and in the meantime I am able to “get by” with them.

In both cases, I still receive the core of what I am paying for, but I am not a happy customer, and would not refer business to them.

You Are Not Alone

Not surprisingly, I am not the only one thinking about this. Marketing Over Coffee featured a presentation over the summer by Dr. Allan Weiss where he talked about business relationships. In it, he talked about just this – a relationship between employees of a business, and not between the businesses itself. I highly recommend you listen to it.

Unless you’re dealing with the direct owners of the business, in most cases you are dealing with an employee of a company whose departure can change or even hurt your business relationship. Keep this in mind as you form new business relationships.

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