I Wish Customers Were Smarter #1

I wish there was a university somewhere for customers who contract facility services. They could learn how to work with contractors more effectively and efficiently. A kind of ivy league Vendor U.

Many customers (those who buy facility services) do little things over and over again that can drive sane contractors up the wall, around the bend, and into a new line of work.

These irritations make our job harder, and ultimately cost us more time, effort and money. It would be nice if we could pass that waste back to the customers that caused it, but I don’t think so. Do you?

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a slam against all customers all the time. We all make mistakes, it’s part of learning. But some customers are learning 24/7. And many probably don’t even know they’re a pain to contractors.

So, enough with the kvetching. The first post in this series is not going to start with big irritations, but with small ones. As time goes by, with your input, we’ll work up to the Everest of customer disfunctions. Maybe even come up with an award.

Here goes – the little things that I wish customers were smarter about.

#1: Customers Require Us to Email Proposals

Told you we’d start small, but this one gets me when RFPs come out.

WHAT CUSTOMERS DO:

In the RFP customers will ask us to email them our proposal. Our formal responses to their RFP questions. Have you seen this? It doesn’t happen every time, but frequently enough for me to realize someone is asleep at wheel.

THE PROBLEM:

The file size of many proposals can be too large for customers’ e-mail servers. Most corporations have file size limitations where a large file is rejected and not delivered to the recipient. Whether it’s a Word doc or Adobe pdf , file size matters.

If we don’t deal with this problem early in the RFP process, we can get last minute heartburn at a time we probably don’t need any other pains.

WHAT WE CAN DO:

Try one of these, see if it works for you:

Notify customer at beginning of RFP process. Ask the customer about this problem and see if they can work out a solution, push the problem back to them.

Overnight courier a CD. Burn your file to a CD on off you go. You’ll need to complete your proposal production 1-2 days earlier than the RFP deadline to allow for courier delivery. Plan for that.

Create a web page for customer download. Make it secure. You’ll need user names and passwords, and the tech knowledge. Don’t post your confidential proposal on an unsecured web page. You may get customers questioning your confidentiality.

Use a file transfer service. Like YouSendIt , it moves big files to customers. With YouSendIt, you upload your file to YouSendIt’s server and include your customer’s e-mail address. An e-mail is sent to your customer from YouSendIt. They click a link and they’re taken to the YouSendIt download area. Files are only kept for a limited number of days

What do you wish customers were smarter about?

Let me know what customers could be smarter about. Come on, don’t be shy.

Questions or Ideas?

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