Company CEOs love to hear positive feedback from their customers. They frequently hear complaints, but they seldom receive direct praise. A simple way for you to improve vendor relations is to let a CEO know when their company has provided excellent service. You will be surprised by some of the benefits you might receive from this simple act.
The method we used to communicate with company CEOs was to create a vendor of the year award. It was easy to do and it cost almost nothing. There were two steps to our process. The first was to develop a letter addressed to the CEO of the company that we had selected. In that letter, we discussed the importance of teamwork between vendors and customers and we explained why their company had been selected for the award. We also made a point to name the key persons within their organization who were responsible for providing outstanding customer service. The second step is to create a certificate to send along with the award letter. Creating a certificate is simply a matter of purchasing some blank parchment certificates from your local office supply store. Determine what you want to write on the certificate and run it through your laser printer. Our certificate simply had a headline that read; “Vendor of the Year.” In smaller type below the headline it read; “Awarded to (insert company name) for outstanding customer service and support.” We signed it with the name of our hospital and our department.
The benefits we received from this effort were quite surprising. One CEO flew across the country to meet with us. He thanked all department members for the award and gave us more background on the company. He also gave us a glimpse of new products they were developing. Most importantly, he asked technicians in the department if there were any changes or modifications they would like to see in existing products. When he returned home, he met with his engineers and incorporated our suggestions into the product line. During that process he took the time to keep us informed of the status of the changes. As a result of that meeting we developed very strong ties with persons at all levels within that company.
Another benefit that we had not envisioned was that invariably the CEOs contacted those persons whom we had named in our award letter. In one case they flew a local representative to corporate headquarters where he was publicly thanked in front of the other employees and had dinner with the CEO. These employees were all very grateful to us for helping them to gain recognition within their respective companies.
If you want to improve vendor relations, you must take the first step. Remember to aim high and send the award to the CEO and not just to the local representative. If the award is from your department, you will not need permission to send it. As is often said; “Just do it.” Good companies know that their success depends on having satisfied customers. They love knowing which employees are responsible for their success and they value every customer. Whether you are a department in a large metropolitan hospital or a relatively small department such as ours, they will be thrilled to hear from you.
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