When everything goes pear shaped can you rely on your supplier?

It is easy to perform well when everything thing is going well and you aren't under pressure, but how does your business function when things go wrong? A client said to me several years ago that she would hate to run a software business, because clients never appreciate it when everything works, but when it goes wrong the pressure can be enormous. I don?t entirely agree with her statement, as I think that most businesses come under the same pressure whether they are a courier, event organiser or just about anything else that is service based.

pear shapedIt is an important question and one you will be increasingly asked if tendering for government contracts as government agencies now have to ensure suppliers comply with the Civil Contingencies Act. We recently designed a website for WJD Consultancy (BounceBack Solutions) who are specialists in providing Emergency Planning & Business Continuity Management service and my son also works within the sector for a large Primary Care Trust (PCT), so I know something about the subject.

The question is though, how does your supplier behave when everything goes pear shaped? We are not immune to things going wrong, but our overriding philosophy is that you should endeavour to get the problem fixed as soon as possible and keep the client informed throughout (there is no point pretending it hasn't happened and hiding).

The inspiration for this article was something that happened after the launch of a new system. The client sent an email on a Saturday morning (our normal working hours are Monday " Friday) saying that he thought something was wrong; rather than ignore the email I picked it up and immediately emailed him back saying that I would look in to it and let him know what was wrong. Once I had found the problem, I tested the entire system to make sure nothing else was awry and emailed him back that evening with a full audit of what I had do to rectify the issue.

The response I received on Sunday was all the more appreciated (see below) and a good relationship has been restored.

open quoteI want to thank you for acting more promptly than I envisaged when I wrote to you on Saturday morning. I simply wrote at the time, expecting you to action the points on Monday morning. That kind of response is why I'll never fall out with you. I know, that like me, you always do your best and thats the yardstick that I measure and try to act by too.close quote

Date: 21/09/2010


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