Opinion: how to deal with difficult customers

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Opinion: how to deal with difficult customers

Some customer issues can drive you so crazy you just want to run out the door. If you are having problems with a customer, sometimes a vendor can help smooth things over and rescue the relationship.

Customer and reseller conflict resolution is a challenge many vendors have to deal with.

While we are committed and accountable to our clients, we are also responsible for the welfare and support that we show our resellers.

This can be challenging when a client complains to us directly about their current reseller or worse - when they decide they no longer want the reseller as a preferred supplier.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a phone call from the CIO of one of our largest accounts. He told me that his company was dissatisfied with a particular reseller and wanted to know what we could do to help disengage from that reseller and find another.

I proceeded to ask questions around what made them come to this decision. The CIO went on to outline the challenges his company had been facing with the reseller which included issues during procurement, delivery and not getting the right ongoing support.

I explained to the client how much I appreciated the time he had taken to talk to me, and for giving me an opportunity to examine the situation before his company made a definite decision to dump the reseller.

I then arranged a second meeting with the CIO and his team to go through the issues in detail. We felt it was important to understand the issues from other team members and to get a more granular perspective.

During that second meeting a common theme emerged. Although some of the difficulties related to technology and the business relationship, the major issues were based around miscommunication. This included dissatisfaction with their account manager which seemed to be based around personality differences.

Once we understood this, I saw that some of the issues could easily be fixed. I asked the technical team and the CIO for their consent to act as a mediator between them and the reseller.

I then spoke to the reseller's leadership team and worked closely with the reseller and the client to ensure that everyone was clear about deliverables and expectations.

By keeping everyone in the loop, I am pleased to say that we helped rebuild the relationship between the client and the reseller.

The reseller assigned a new account manager to the client who seems to be more compatible with the client's expectations, and the feedback I am receiving now is positive. 

Not only do they have a stronger relationship but the reseller found other lines of business besides LANDesk. As a result of all this the reseller now has a relationship at the executive level with its client.

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