Who’s Fault is It?

Customer:
“We’d like to cancel our agreement because your stuff doesn’t work! It doesn’t do half of the stuff that we need and we don’t get any support from you.”

Vendor:
“I’m sorry to hear this from you. I understand all the things that you are trying to do, and we do all that and much more. In fact, our records indicate that we have reached out to several people in your company via phone and email monthly.”

Customer:
“Well, if we knew about all the features that your product did, we wouldn’t want to cancel.”

Vendor:
“Now that I have you on the phone, I am happy to review everything with you. Is your email ssssssssss@customer.com? And I have this as your phone number? Is that correct? Great. Every month we send out two emails to all accounts, as well as place phone calls regarding outages, etc. Have you received those messages?”

The story goes on, but the point is the same. The customer heard about a new system and wondering why their system doesn’t do the same. They call to cancel. The customer points the blame on the vendor, when the reality is that the customer has been contacted and has ignored those contacts.

On the other hand, what is the responsibility of the vendor?

When a new feature comes out, how is the customer to be notified? Emails, phone calls, smoke signals?

As a vendor, we can provide information, update the website, send out emails, write blogs, make phone calls — but if we don’t get a response, what next?

Often times we — the collective we as in humans — struggle with doing the right thing. Some struggle more then others.

The right thing to do in this situation is to ask questions, find out the reason why there is a miss… find out what each party has done and find out where wholes can be plugged so a solution can be found — and the relationship can move forward together. Or mutually part after each gives a valiant effort.

Sounds a lot like a marriage. And in a way it is.

Vendors and Customers each have their own codes to live by. As Vendors enhance their services, it is in their best interest to let their customers know about it through the website, email and phone. This has to be balanced with a customer’s schedule as to not call the customer every day with new feature updates.

Customers can choose to respond to the inquiries or not. The response can be clicking on a link in an email or returning a phone call. The onus is on the customer to follow-up if the Vendor is reaching out.

Ultimately, the Vendor should initiate contact on a regular basis — providing the customer with multiple ways to stay abreast of the updates and status of their software. At the same time, if the customer ignores the efforts by the Vendor, they should not put that blame on the Vendor when they “missed” a contact point provided in the past.

So, in the scenario above — is their fault to blame?

My response, is yes. There is fault on the part of the customer for not responding to previous requests. And depending on the urgency and longevity of the situation, the Vendor might have had the possibility to raise awareness from a higher level.

What do you think?

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