The “Love-Hate” story between companies and service suppliers

In the land of online shopping

Shopping online is fun when you’re buying a cool t-shirt, a nice pair of shoes, a book or a new gadget, isn’t it? How about booking your next vacation? Or maybe subscribing to an online training? Same… it’s fun and you have to admit it. (as long as you have the budget for it)

Buying something for ourselves is cool and we often perceive it as a reward for all the hard work we’re experiencing every day. For most, buying it for their loved ones may be even more rewarding and pleasant.

Would it still be a cool and nice experience, though, if the process would be a hassle? Probably yes because you’re doing it for yourself, your friends or family and you are so focused on the outcome that you’re accepting some of the pain. Fortunately, there are so many great online shops that look nice, are straightforward, secure, easy to use and offer the exact product you’re looking for.

Everything seems to change when you’re wearing your other hat and you’re shopping for services as part of your job. It is no longer for yourself, it’s not a reward, it’s a necessity and you’re carrying a great responsibility. You’re not spending your personal money anymore, every penny you’re not spending wisely may impact your company’s performance and, ultimately, other people’s welfare (their income or even their job security) – no matter who you are: employee, shareholder or the owner of the business. 

Shopping for business services = fun & easy?

Can anyone, EVER, make shopping for business related services fun? I don’t even think anyone ever tried or should try. It will never be fun and, on top of that, it’s not straightforward, either. No wonder the process encourages unproductive behaviors on the business services market.

But let’s take a closer look at some of the most common behaviors.

We are often pleased with our service providers and loyal to them, which is great! But (even) if we’re not, we are avoiding, as much as we can, shopping for business services. So, we’d rather accept a poor service or a high(er) cost because the effort of starting the procurement process all over again is a passion killer. Our vendors will feel no pressure to improve their services and competitiveness, will hate us every time we’re asking for a price cut and will offer a worse service to cope with our demands.

Most of the time, spending less means a false economy and running in circles. I actually feel we should be engaged to pay the same or even more in order to get a significantly better service. This way, we might love our suppliers more and they will hate us less.

But we are often lazy and complacent about driving improvement. For example, we don’t ask, bravely enough, our people to rate the services that our business receives from the providers because we don’t want to find ourselves in the position where we have to kick-off some unpleasant conversations and look for alternatives on the market. Or, sometimes, suppliers are not even giving us the chance to do that. Why would they struggle to improve if there’s no pressure to do so? Is it just their responsibility to improve? Is it enough for us to sit, wait and expect for that to happen?!

It’s our responsibility too, as their clients. They will love us more if we help them improve and we will hate them less as we would get better services.

The story goes on & on

What to do? We either love our providers and stay loyal for as long both parties benefit from the partnership or we hate them but still offer a second chance to fall in love again. And as a last resort, we just go on separate ways and they will simply have to do better next time with a next client. Sitting anywhere between these options is not helping neither businesses, nor their services providers.

Easier said than done, when businesses can hardly follow a decent process to shop for services, when available ratings are so scarce and when service providers have to knock on Google’s, LinkedIn’s or Facebook’s doors to meet their target clients. What if there’s a game-changer for you, ready to be launched?..

This is the introduction to a mini-series of articles addressed to both businesses and services providers, where we will tackle the procurement needs and solutions for business administration and facility management. In the next articles, we will explore the pain (in the arse) businesses feel when having to identify and select the most suitable provider, we will encourage services providers to stop knocking on closed doors (and get in through the window) and, eventually, we’ll disclose why jumping is a vital step to be able to fly.

Andrei Pantelimon – CEO ENSO Business Services

business developmentbusiness managementprocurementservice suppliers

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