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Commentary & Analysis

Say Thank You: Customer-Vendor Relationships

When you are the customer, you’re always right – correct? Maybe not always but the relationship between customer and vendor is a tricky one.

By Jennifer Matt
Published: June 5, 2014

When you are the customer, you’re always right – correct? Maybe not always but the relationship between customer and vendor is a tricky one. This relationship is one of the keys to your success with print software. I wrote an earlier article about how you and your Print MIS might need marriage counseling. Today I want to talk about how you treat your vendors.

Let’s start with the end in mind. What do you want out of your vendor relationship? I’ll bet most of you would say;

  1. I want their product to work as it was sold
  2. I want their service to be responsive
  3. Above all, I want to be communicated with, not constantly have to nag them for status
  4. When issues do come up I want them to take responsibility and look for solutions

There is a lot of asks here, of course that’s to be expected you paid good money for their software and you pay them good money for maintenance and/or subscription. Here’s an important question back to you, what behavior should you and your team model in order to co-create the optimal relationship with your vendor? Here’s my suggested list:

  1. Treat all people with respect, for the most part I don’t believe people are purposefully malicious or ignoring you, for the most part they simply make honest mistakes or they are put in impossible situations (trying to do the job of three people).
  2. Take responsibility for your part, you are not perfect (admit it) and own it. Issues come up and generally they have multiple contributors. Once you own your part (lead by example) you open up the relationship to be more authentic. You give the vendor the opening to own their part as well.
  3. Say thank you. This might be the most important and the easiest thing for you to do. Even when the tensions get high and there is a lot frustration, a simple and genuine “thank you” goes a long way. If you’re working with a big company do the right thing by copying as far up the food chain as possible so everyone gets the appropriate credit for your appreciation.

Print Software, especially web-to-print and Print MIS require you to develop partnerships with your vendors in order to succeed both in the short and the long-term. A partnership is built everyday through respectful interactions, collaborating around issues, and sharing in your successes – make sure you and your team are setting yourself up for great vendor partnerships.


Jennifer Matt is the managing editor of WhatTheyThink’s Print Software section as well as President of Web2Print Experts, Inc. a technology-independent print software consulting firm helping printers with web-to-print and print MIS solutions. You can reach her at jen@whattheythink.com.


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