"Under-promise, over-deliver" is a classic phrase that encourages salespeople to go above and beyond for their clients. But what if you feel you're with an IT provider who over-promises and under-delivers?
IT providers are meant to be partners driven to help your business grow. So when you hire a provider who feels more like a salesperson than a partner, it's discouraging and frustrating.
We've identified five behaviors that can destroy trust in the IT provider-client relationship.
For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients build IT strategies and utilize technology to their advantage.
By reading this article, you will learn more about five trends that destroy trust and their possible solutions.
1. You feel "nickel-and-dimed" each time you request service
Sometimes, interacting with an untrustworthy IT provider feels like you uncover new hidden fees at every turn. Some service requests reveal additional costs that were not explained or outlined in the original agreement.
It's a major red flag if a provider is charging you for a mess or complication it created. For example, your IT provider is asking for additional payments to clean up the server room they set up. Quality providers would tidy the space as part of their services.
Clients must understand the services included in their contracts with their IT providers. Both parties must also express and address their expectations for the relationship.
Review your IT provider's contract to clarify what services are included within your package and which require additional payment. Quality providers will distinguish between the two and, if asked, will explain the service and the reasoning behind the additional fee.
If your provider is unwilling to discuss or unable to explain the fees, this could be a sign of an unqualified or dishonest provider.
2. Your IT provider is always trying to sell you something
When you go to your IT provider with a problem, you're looking for a solution, not a sales pitch. However, if interactions regularly turn into "Buy this product," regardless of your needs, you may feel frustrated or distrust your provider.
There's a distinct difference between being sold a product that meets your needs and one purely motivated by a sales commission.
If an IT provider constantly pushes a specific brand, product, or next product tier, regardless of the client's budget or desires, it breeds distrust between the provider and the client.
In this situation, the client may not know if the provider is making honest, helpful suggestions for IT purchases or if the provider is trying to boost sales and earn a commission. Therefore, the client cannot trust that the provider is making suggestions that can truly help their business.
Ideally, an IT provider should act and be seen as a partner, not a vendor. However, conflict and distrust arise when an IT provider works or is seen only as a vendor.
How do you know if it's acting like a vendor instead of a partner? IT providers act like vendors when their focus is to push you to purchase specific products consistently.
A quality IT provider helps your business through IT strategy. It identifies the products and processes that will increase productivity and grow your business.
Yes, quality IT providers will recommend purchasing technology when the need arises. However, it will do so with your budget, needs, and expectations in mind. Its sales goal is to help your business succeed rather than receive a commission.
Talk to your provider about its recommendations and how they fit into the overall IT strategy and IT roadmap. If your provider can't answer, it may signify that its proposals are sales pitches instead of strategic purchases.
3. You aren't receiving the service you were promised
Clients enter into IT provider relationships because providers promise a certain level and scope of service. A client's frustration and distrust grow when a provider consistently fails to deliver the promised service quality, quantity, or speed.
For example, the IT provider may guarantee helpdesk tickets receive replies and resolutions within specific timeframes.
Missing these timeframes on rare occasions should not be a red flag. However, consistently sending late responses, slow solutions, or lack of resolution indicates a deeper issue with the provider.
IT providers also offer to perform several maintenance-related or proactive tasks to help keep your IT systems efficient.
For instance, a provider may offer technology deployment services for new laptops, promising they will be plug-and-play ready.
Suppose a client requests a specific program to be added to the computers. A provider failing to download that program signifies a lack of care and attention to requests.
Continual failures to listen to client needs and deliver adequate solutions will gradually destroy trust in the relationship.
Reach out to your provider to discuss terms of service, expectations, and your experiences working with them.
In a best-case scenario, your provider was unaware of the situation and course-corrects to save the relationship.
If your provider pushes back or refuses to change, it is time to look for a new provider.
Ask potential providers to explain their service guarantees and how they meet them. A good indicator of a provider's awareness and ability to meet customer needs is to ask how many new clients it takes on each month and why.
A quality provider focuses on quality of care and partnership, which involves taking on a limited number of clients. Its employees cannot handle the workload if it takes on too many clients. If that's the case, its service quality often suffers.
4. There is a lack of open and honest communication
Communication is vital in all relationships, including professional ones. So, if your provider does not honestly and clearly communicate about its services or your IT situation, it will inevitably breed distrust and damage the relationship.
Poor communication may look like:
- Delivering project proposals late or not at all.
- Slow to respond to messages.
- Not asking clients clarifying questions to understand problems or goals better.
- Trying to change key processes without understanding them.
- Not listening to a client's expectations or expressing its expectations for the project or partnership.
- Neglecting to educate clients on the "behind-the-scenes" of the IT environment, tasks, and processes.
- A reluctance to share details or explanations.
Again, speak with your provider about the lack of communication. Share your concern and frustration.
A quality provider will course correct to improve the partnership. They will communicate more frequently and openly.
However, if your IT provider continues to withhold information and is unwilling to be honest, this is a huge red flag. You cannot have a partnership without communication. In this situation, it's best to find a new provider.
5. Your provider has made impossible promises
Beyond the regular service guarantees, dishonest or inexperienced IT providers may make impossible promises they cannot keep.
For example, a provider may guarantee zero risks and total security. However lovely this sounds, a zero-risk IT environment is impossible. Risk changes too much and too quickly to be wholly eradicated from an IT environment.
In another instance, perhaps a provider promises to order you a brand new computer and have it ready today.
This may be possible if the provider buys a basic, consumer-grade computer off the shelf and offers no customization or programming.
However, if the provider buys a business-grade computer and customizes it to suit your business, it may take days or weeks. Therefore, it would be dishonest and irresponsible for a provider to promise same-day results.
Trust erodes when a provider consistently makes promises that are impossible to keep.
Ask your provider to explain how they can keep these promises. What process are they using? How can they achieve this goal?
If the provider can give a detailed explanation and keep its promise, you have a trustworthy, quality provider.
For example, instead of promising zero risks, a quality provider may say, "I guarantee you will have risk, but my team and I will work with you to minimize that risk as much as possible."
In the new computer example, a responsible provider may say, "I can get you a new computer, but I can't have it today. However, I will update you on my progress and let you know when I can have it ready."
These are honest, reasonable goals and answers.
If your IT provider cannot keep its promises, you might consider finding a new provider.
Next steps in finding a trustworthy provider
You may be struggling to trust your current IT provider if one or a combination of the following situations are commonplace in your relationship:
- You feel "nickel-and-dimed" each time you request service.
- Your IT provider is always trying to sell you something.
- You aren't receiving the service you were promised.
- There is a lack of open and honest communication.
- Your provider has made impossible promises.
You can address these situations with your provider to see if the relationship can be improved.
However, if your provider is unwilling to discuss the issues or change, it may be time to find a new provider.
In interviewing potential providers, you can ask them these questions to help determine if they will be a better match for your business:
- "What is or is not included in your service package?"
- "What's your process for recommending and purchasing new technology for clients?"
- "How many clients do you take on each month, and why that number?"
- "How do you handle unanticipated issues?"
- "How quickly can I expect a response through the helpdesk or on-site?"
The answers to these questions will tell you how this provider tackles client concerns and meets client needs. It will also indicate how well the provider communicates overall and can explain its processes and IT strategy.
For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients build successful IT strategies and processes while utilizing effective technology.
If you are looking for a new IT provider, schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see how WEBIT can help.
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