Love Is in the Air: Signs of Healthy Relationships With Your Tech Vendors
Valentine’s Day (February 14) is a day to celebrate love in all forms. Between partners, family, friends and others. It can also be a reminder (for better or worse) that relationships of all shapes and sizes can be complicated.
Especially with the uncertain economic environment of 2023, you may not be feeling the love for your technology vendors. Grappling with complex contracts, price hikes or shifting support due to restructuring or layoffs, technology vendors are navigating a very challenging time – putting customers in an equally difficult position as you try to extract value or shift costs.
It may have you asking: Is this still love? Or do you deserve something better?
Signs of a solid relationship
When it comes to technology vendors, it can be hard to decipher what’s normal course of business and what’s not. A great customer experience is the goal for many at the end of the day, but that also needs to be balanced with expectations of what you bought versus what you have, the realistic nature of legal terms and conditions, limitations of the product or roadmap, misunderstanding of utilizing specific features, or even working with individuals that don’t necessarily characterize the company. There are plenty of moments with your tech vendors that can change your outlook on the relationship.
All that being said, how do you really know if what you have is working for you?
- Your vendor returns your calls, emails, Slacks or support chats.
- Your vendor follows through on commitments.
- Your technology makes your job, projects or tasks better.
- You can’t live without it.
- You find yourself talking about it without being asked.
- You see a long-term future together.
- When you know of ways that your technology could be doing better (performance, cost, features, etc.), your vendor is open and ready to have that conversation.
- You know how to identify the value of your tool/platform/environments – either with specific analytics that can be pulled or identified value (i.e. time saved, cost managed, support provided, enhanced abilities of team, etc.).
- Your vendor thanks you for your commitment to the relationship and is ready to support you, even if you don’t think it’s working for you any more.
It’s time to talk
Let’s say that you recognize your relationship is anything but ideal. Or that it’s just time for a change. What are your options?
There are two factors to keep in mind when thinking of breaking up with a vendor: how long is your contract and how difficult will it be for you to get into a new relationship.
If you are one year into a three-year contract with no possible refunds, then the main objective should be to get as much value out of the existing relationship as you can.
Even with consumption-based models, there is still a contract involved with some kind of financial incentive, and it may not be worth it to break the terms of your engagement. But there are plenty of ways you could potentially see value still:
- Start a dialogue with your account team and/or ask for feedback from your network or the vendor’s customer community about the technology itself.
- Perform a retrospective by analyzing why you wanted a specific tool in the first place. Identify what went wrong and what you believe you need from the technology. Reflecting can help pinpoint where a breakdown occurred and why.
- Establish three or four realistic goals with a corresponding roadmap. This could transform your working relationship with your tech provider by giving you and your vendor a common goal. As customers, we are not always forthright with our vendors about our goals, but we should share the accountability with the vendor.
- Consider whether internal resources or barriers may be an issue in realizing the value of your tech stack and prepare a plan that could help you change this. Ask your vendor for help, as they want to see you be successful and may be able to arm you with the necessary data or insights to make a change internally.
- Evaluate a partner service could help you realize success with a certain product. Partners are influential with both vendors and implementations. They may be able to help you gain a better footing during negotiations and/or offer you a more direct line of support that you were missing.
For those who have reached their breaking point, current budgets may make it challenging for you to bring on a new vendor at this time. With cost and risk concerns top of mind for boards and executives, trying to replace a vendor may result in further scrutiny on your budgets and force you to go without any tool.
If that’s the case for your tech relationship, remember that you still have plenty of options. A contract renewal can be much easier to get approval on than procuring a brand-new tool.
- Look for ways to optimize your costs or performance. Depending on the technology you’re working with, whether software, SaaS or cloud, there are always ways to rightsize for your needs. However, remember that you will need a complete picture of how your tool performs, who uses it and why in order to make these adjustments.
- Voice your concerns to your vendor over your disappointment or missed performance of the solution. As a last resort, holding off on a renewal decision, even if you already know you want to renew, can elevate your concerns. But remember that this could also trigger short-term solutions from vendors, and you want to ensure that any proposal or relationship is working for your needs/goals overall.
- Finally, don’t forget that customer success teams and service support should be fully engaged to set you up for success and can act as mediators. These organizational resources should be up to speed on any challenges or issues you are facing before you decide you want to walk away from a relationship. Escalating complaints could result in the kind of radical change necessary to change a working relationship.
If you do determine you want to bring on another vendor, make sure you are very clear about your own goals and any items that you want that you might not have been getting from your previous vendor. All of that information is important to share with any new vendors that you may be evaluating. Make a list of what you’re looking for in your next partner.
No matter what position you are in with your technology vendor these days, don’t forget to consider you and your organization’s needs. Whether or not love is in the air, technology should always bring out the best in you and your team/s.
If you’re not sure whether you’re seeing the value, reach out to our team today and we can help you assess. Watch our recent webinar to see how you can identify your biggest areas of waste among enterprise technology vendors.