Memo to suppliers: Get our names right

Don't send around account managers who are paid solely based on the volume of sales, don't underestimate the importance of individual account managers in a customer relationship and don't get the customer's name wrong.

Don’t send around account managers who are paid solely based on the volume of sales, don’t underestimate the importance of individual account managers in a customer relationship and — a point that would appear the most obvious — don’t get the customer’s name wrong in your communications with them.

Those were some of the no-nos cited by a panel of six information chiefs of large organisations talking about vendor-CIO relations. The panel, who were gathered for the IDC Directions conference in Auckland last week, discussed specifically the issue of whether long-term partnerships should be forged or if ad hoc buying of equipment and services as they’re required is the better option.

DB Breweries IS manager Herman van Krieken says account managers whose pay has incentives based on sales volume can be too focused on making quick sales, while TranzRail IT general manager Garry Collings says a carefully nurtured relationship between a vendor and CIO can be thrown up in the air when the account manager moves on.

Several of the CIOs say they have invited suppliers to internal meetings so that they better understand their needs.

“We invite suppliers to our weekly management meetings,” Collings says. “They listen to our concerns and challenges and come up with solutions we didn’t know existed.”

ASB Bank technology and operations general manager Clayton Wakefield (pictured right) says the bank has a meeting every six months with suppliers, which provides “fascinating insights into the cultures of the two organisations”.

There are lot of inefficiencies between vendors and customers, he says, “and if you can short-circuit them in a two-hour meeting every six months, that’s beneficial”.

AUT IT services director Wendy Bussen (pictured left) says vendors must understand the business and the challenges for the CIO.

“There are a lot who don’t and when you talk to someone who doesn’t understand your business, you become quite exasperated. We’ve had situations where vendors call us the wrong name, and that’s a real turn-off.”

Department of Conservation IT manager Channa Jayasinha (pictured right) says DoC takes suppliers out into the field, to locations such as the Abel Tasman National Park, “and the experience really helps them”.

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