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Choosing a new vendor? Three Tips to Consider

Selecting a Vendor

Selecting a vendor for your business can be time consuming and stressful. You are making an important choice that will not just impact you, but an entire department or business. The goal should be to create a partnership with your vendor. Price is important, but it should not be the only thing to consider. Here are three tips that are worth noting.

Communication

Communication is my number one tip. How they respond during the sales process is important. Do you feel as though they are interviewing you? While it is perfectly understandable for a sales exec to pre-qualify a lead, it is also important to treat the person with respect. The tone of a person’s voice, their demeanor, level of patience when answering questions are all important. This sets the tone for how the relationship plays out over time.

Ask yourself, “Will I want to turn to this person with a problem or issue down the road?” How well they communicate & how quickly they respond will tell you a lot. Pay close attention to their genuine willingness to solve your problem or provide a solution that will benefit your business. How well do they listen?

Social Media

One area I always look at when considering a new vendor is their social media marketing. When I check it, I am looking for several things:

  • The date of their last post. I see so many businesses start social media, run it for a few years, and then drop it. How current is the last post? If it is over a year ago, it may be a red flag.
  • What do they post? Do they post relative information that provides their readers with useful tips and news within their industry? Sharing is caring in social media. Pay close attention to what they have to say.
  • Number of followers play a role as well. Too small of an amount may mean that not enough effort was put forth. Too many unevenly distributed between following/followers may suggest a bot was used. Many companies use bots, and while I don’t feel it is a negative, it is worth noting.  
  • How do they respond to customer service issues within their profiles? This is a very important area to take a look at. Unhappy customers many times will go to social media when they can’t get the right answers from normal customer service channels.

Flexibility

How flexible are they to change? As much as we all try, there are times when we need something handled and we need it yesterday! I remember a payroll vendor of ours once telling me that she was going to discount something for me because over the years, we never requested customer service. By looking over our account and determining we had been a good, quiet customer, she rewarded us. Kudos to the company for empowering her to make that call.

Be sure to ask about their customer service turnaround times. Is it within 24 hours of placing a call or inquiry via the web? Be sure to understand this before a problem comes up.

Proper vetting can save you a lot of time in money down the road. The added effort is well worth it.

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Apple Ratings – A Disrupter for the “Review Economy”

Online Reviews

The Review Economy is something that people have been writing and speaking about for years now and for good reason. Keeping track of a brand’s online reviews is necessary if you are to survive in 2020 and beyond. They simply hold too much weight. Research shows that just a 1 star jump in a Yelp review can lead to a 9% boost in revenue. Businesses need them now more than ever and they are very willing to incentivize customers to leave product reviews by offering contest participation, where you can “win” a free product or a monetary prize. In many ways, it has replaced the customer feedback give-a-ways of the past. Take this survey and you could win $500.00! Instead, we now see “Review your recent purchase and you could win $500.00”.

Enter Apple Ratings

Apple ratings is coming with the new iOS 14 upgrade, due out this fall. Up to this point, Apple Maps relied on Yelp and Trip Advisor as their main resource for reviews. 9to5Mac.com, a site that is devoted to Mac updates, shared the news with their followers. The sixth beta for iOS 14 show that Apple is not only moving away from third-party map data, but its also moving away from third-party image and review data. Apple is saying that photos submitted by users will be reviewed by a human.

We were able to capture a couple of comments made so far below, as a small test of i

What This Means for the Review Economy

It may mean that Apple Reviews will be disruptive to Yelp and Trip Advisor in the long run. Apple intends on being very proactive when it comes to review fraud. No easy task. They may also only allow users to rate a place after physically visited it. They may also use a thumbs up and thumbs down rating system rather than stars.

In the end, if it is done properly, it may be a review economy disrupter in a good way! Apple may be able to tighten the parameters around online reviews, making fake reviews a thing of the past.

It will be one more area for businesses of all kinds to monitor. Having a solid social listening or monitoring system in place is so important. Customer churn is real and monitoring online feedback is just as important as conducting market research, mystery shopping or conducting customer satisfaction surveys.

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Gathering of Competitive Intelligence For Your Business

Competitive Intelligence

We began conducting competitive intelligence for our clients over fifteen years ago. Back then, we primarily used Mystery Shopping as a way to gain valuable information for our clients on their top competitors. We have worked with start ups, established businesses as well as companies who need information for the acquisition process.

Types of Competitive Intelligence Gained:

  1. Website Impressions: Your website is your business. While it may look great to you, unless you research how it resonates with your customers, you may never know the truth. Same is true for a competitive mystery shop. Ease of use is very important as well as using very understandable language surrounding service offerings.
Competitive Intelligence
Website Impression

2. Contact us: Be sure to test this area through every channel possible and then gauge the amount of time it takes for a representative to get back to you. In an April blog post, we shared a case study where it took a representative 6 days to get in touch with our evaluator posing as a potential business customer.

3. Pricing: Asking for a quote after going through the sales process is usually the top determining factor for conducting the research in the first place. Additionally, we upload all marketing collateral right within the evaluation form.

4. Follow up: How well does the representative follow up? Depending on the scope of work, we usually allow 5 business days to measure this. Many times, there isn’t any follow up at all.

Social Media Competitor Analysis

According to Hootesuite, social media competitive analysis, includes the following:

  • Identify who your competitors are on social media
  • Know which social platforms they’re on
  • Know how they’re using those platforms
  • Understand how well their social strategy is working
  • Benchmark your social results against the competition
  • Identify social threats to your business
  • Find gaps in your own social media strategy

When was the last time you took a closer look at your competition?

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