At the recent IDC Directions conference a group of CIOs were given the chance to spell out what they look for in a perfect technology partner.
While the research firm did not attempt any actual match-ups, the panel discussion it hosted gave a good insight into how end-users want to be courted.
An interesting point made during the discussion, entitled “Marriages made in heaven or speed dating?”, was that IT departments want their technology partners to make them look like heroes.
As one CIO said: “By and large IT departments get a lot of sh*t from their companies. Help them become heroes and you’ll be great partners.”
If you can alleviate some of the grief IT managers or CIOs are faced with every day, you will certainly win their endearing affection.
This involves making IT departments look great in front of their own organisation, as well as their customers.
To do this you need to help your customers solve their customers’ problems.
Find out what they can do better for their customers – and help make it happen!
There is a lot of truth in the following expression aired on the day: “There is never a traffic jam on the extra mile.”
Go that little bit further than anyone else, differentiate yourself through exceptional service, and you will win and retain business.
Not surprisingly, this is precisely what Datastor’s Vic Dickerson credits his success to in this week’s Coffee Break on the opposite page.
Our CIO panel also said that while great technical skills are important, other traits can sometimes supersede this.
What they want are IT providers they can develop long-term relationships with and CIOs are generally not keen on one-off deals.
The panelists want to be able to develop strong personal relationships with their suppliers.
They do not want to shop around for new vendors often – this is time-consuming, arduous and expensive.
They also want partners with honesty and integrity. This is a partner who delivers on promises, but also has the courage to speak up when things are going wrong. This includes having the guts to speak up if the client is stuffing up a project.
If CIOs can strike up a good partnership with a supplier who has their interests at heart, contracts can even become unnecessary paperwork.
After all, for some contracts are too much like a pre-nuptial agreement!
And as IDC’s Doug Casement aptly points out: “If you have to reach for the contract, then the relationship is already in trouble and you are on the way to a divorce.”
Above all it is important to remember that your customers are people too. So as in any relationship make them feel good and they will feel good about you.
And for that extra touch, don’t forget the chocolates…