Customer Satisfaction Needs to Be a Bigger Priority for Suppliers: Part 2

Oct 04, 2018
Bidsync Industry Blog

As noted last week: Customer service – and customer satisfaction, specifically – are the key to repeat business, even in the government sector. You should never assume that you are “safe” in your position or immune to the scrutiny of customers with regards to quality, professionalism, timeliness, etc. just because you have been awarded a government contract, or repeatedly secured government contracts over the last 5, 10 or even 20 years.  If you want to retain your current government customers and, even better, secure referrals to other agencies for inclusion in future bids for other contracts:

Avoid Ambiguity at All Costs (or It Could Cost You)

recent study indicated that some customer satisfaction issues inside government agencies stem from poorly written supplier contracts. While the responsibility ultimately lies with the CO and agency customer to articulate their requirements and expectations in the Scope of Work (SOW) or Performance Work Statement (PWS), you – as the chosen supplier – are ultimately the product, service, construction or systems expert. And, you are the one whose performance will be measured against that contract’s terms. If the contract language seems vague to any party, then the confusion that will likely ensue regarding your obligations could cause customers to unfairly blame you for poor performance or non-performance. With that in mind…

We’ve already talked about why it’s important to proactively review and recommend SOW/PWS adjustments before committing to terms. However, you need to proactively request customer feedback after the goods have been delivered or throughout a project or service period. You also need to be aware of the performance variables that could potentially impact customer satisfaction; those things the customer values most…

Clearly Communicate How You Will Correct Course - Then Do It Quickly

In the private sector, customer loyalty is not typically lost after one issue, as long as the vendor or service provider takes swift action to resolve issues as soon as they surface. The same holds true in the public sector. Federal, state and local government agencies spend an extensive amount of time and resources sourcing for commodities, services, constructions and major systems. They are not going to be eager to repeat the solicitation, evaluation and award process for your contract over a single issue (so long as you aren’t doing anything illegal.) In fact, government contracting officials are more inclined to give you an opportunity to resolve the issue, assuming customer complaints against your company don’t become repetitive.

Take advantage of the opportunity they are giving you to prove that your company can meet or exceed performance expectations. Just don’t “take advantage” of the fact that you’re getting a second, or third, chance to retain the business. There will come a time when the customer or CO will decide to terminate your contract if you consistently fail to meet requirements or do something to damage the business relationship beyond repair. If you receive a complaint... 

Keep In Mind

Don’t think that a current performance issue will just go away once the project is complete or that Past Performance records become less relevant as time goes on. Even a single blemish could potentially impact your competitiveness in the future. The good news is that, if you follow these tips and prioritize customer service, you will never have to worry about a dissatisfied customer or performance rating markdown.