Why should I twitter the meal-delivery guy?

01/25/2010

Because you are hungry? >.>

My classmate thought that because she pays for the service, she does not have to maintain her relationship with the vendor. Right or wrong?

When dining out, I always address my servers by name. I am on a first-name basis with the baristas at the little coffee stand down the street. It is in my nature to want to interact with people on a more personal level, as I believe meaningful conversations and relationships can only happen that way in everyday life. But it is also important to me to be known by my name. In fact, it was the most important requirement in deciding where to go to college, because I did not want to be just another number to my professors. I ended up in a small college with 2,500 students where everybody knew everybody. Those were four fun years.

At work, it was my job to be helpful to my clients. I tried to anticipate problems they might encounter, and discussed with them with an open mind. I related my clients’ concerns to my employer, resolved any issue I could. When I could not help, I explained the reasons to them honestly, and offered them possible solutions that I researched for. Over time, my clients found me trustworthy and reliable. Some of them started coming to me even with personal stuff, and we became friends.

At work, I also met the old jolly janitor, the kid who abandoned school and became a father too soon, Thomas the banker, Toh the salesperson, the list goes on and on. These are interesting people. The old janitor was a war hero, listening to his stories reminded me of how little I have done in my life. The kid who quit school made me realize just how fortunate I am to have my parents and the resources I have access to. These people keep me humble and grounded. They are important people to have in life.

Let me tell you a story: Two months before the 2008 Olympic Games, the Chinese government cut off the supply of coal. At the time I worked for a factory that ran on coal, and we could not afford to halt production for three months. Now, like us, non-production was not an option for many other factory owners, coal was the only way to stay afloat. The reserves of our suppliers were depleting really quickly. We contacted everyone we knew to try to get our hands on some coal. We even offered to triple, quadruple the price, but nobody had any coal to sell. At the end, one supplier came through for us. Another factory was willing to match our offer, but this supplier chose to sell to us. As a result we kept several key customers who would otherwise have taken their businesses elsewhere.

Can you guess why the supplier sold us the coal? It was because my boss was gentle and kind to everyone including the coal delivery guy. Many people assumed the delivery guy was just a delivery guy and were rude to him, but he happened to also be the owner of his coal-supplying business. He felt that he and my boss were friends so he did us a favor to help us out.

Vendor relationship management is as important as customer relationship management, if not more. However, in my opinion, if you think of relationship management as work, you are approaching it all wrong.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: