Creative Leadership

Why Vendors Get Fired

This past year we parted ways with a long time vendor which impacted a significant part of the way we work at Cooke Media Group.  It’s a long story, but as I thought about it, the reasons we let them go are a good reminder when it comes to the way we deal with our own customers, clients, and even donors.  Here’s some of the key reasons:

1.  They grew too fast.  They were a very successful company, which is great – but as they grew, they didn’t keep pace with customer service, deliveries, and other important aspects of the company.  As they grew, it took longer for us to reach them, and longer for us to get things fixed.  Growth is great, but when you start to lose touch with the people who are making you grow, there’s a problem.

2.  They blamed us.  When we would call them with a problem, their first response was that it was OUR fault.  OK, I’m willing to admit a mistake, but over and over, it proved to be them.  And yet it was almost a script.  First response is always US.  I don’t believe the customer is always right, but our job is to help them discover the solution, no matter what the problem.  At some point they may have to face that it’s their fault, but don’t make accusations right out of the blocks.

3.  We just want it to work.  In defense of the vendor, they did offer us a financial credit for days when their service didn’t work.  That’s nice, but I’m not really interested in a credit, I just want the service to work.  Crediting me money doesn’t compensate for the loss or disruption of business.  Always try to make things right, but the best way?  Do it right in the first place.

This is a good reminder for me to be more sensitive to our customers and clients.  Businesses, non-profits, churches, whatever – you have customers, clients, and donors.  Always be on guard about those relationships.

Have you experienced anything similar recently?


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  1. That hit the target. We have 2 vendors that both pointed fingers at us then at each other and then wouldnt return calls to each other to fix a problem that affected our customers. Went on for 2 months!

    One of these has been guilty of all 3 of your points. (if you were an Internet service provider, I’d think it was the same company you are talking about!). We’ve been thinking about whether its time to move on, now I think our decision is going to be better made. Thanks for the info!

  2. As a service provider, I cannot afford to brush off customers as you described. The amount of effort it takes to build a relationship with a customer can be wiped out with the “no can do” attitudes you have experienced. Even when a customer is at fault, we generally don’t tell them that directly. We teach, inform, offer assistance and above all have empathy for the customers problems. Seems like today “Customer Service” takes a back seat to the bottom line. Where I work, we strive to have customers for life. In reality, our jobs depend on it.

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