In my recent blog entries and in a magazine article published in Western Banker (September/October 2015), “Managing Technology Service Provider Relationships” (view below), I have discussed how to improve relationships with technology vendors. In nearly every vendor evaluation engagement, I see the cause for dissatisfaction with the vendor rooted in the relationship, not the technology. For many banks, access to sufficient technology is no longer an issue. However, the relationship that exists between a bank client and their technology vendor may have issues.

While I’ve taken the vendors to task, it isn’t always their fault. Granted the customer is never wrong, but sometimes customers can be “more right.” Sometimes, your bank’s actions can actually improve your vendor relationships. Sometimes it can, sometimes it cannot. Most of the time when the relationship has broken down, I see the bank being entirely too passive when confronted with a dysfunctional relationship. Speak up! Don’t accept it. Don’t wait for a contract renewal to voice displeasure. Unfortunately, with some vendors, you may not get attention until your contract is close to expiration. I encourage you to speak up, regardless.

In my engagement opportunities with vendors, I present best practices that customers can follow to improve vendor relationships. Certainly, before the vendor and the bank sign a contractual agreement that is binding for several years, make sure that it is moving both parties toward the desired destination. Expectations must be defined from both perspectives. Make it a point to find out:

What is your bank’s expectation for client support and account management?

What does the vendor expect the client to provide to support goals?

Many times, these expectations will become service commitments outlined in the contract.

In previous blog entries, I have stated that banks need to assess vendor relationships and how they interact with vendors. I have offered suggestions to help improve your relationship with your technology vendor. I challenge you to consider the following questions:

Is your bank doing everything to optimize the relationship?

Does your vendor understand your bank’s unique goals and objectives?

Does your vendor treat your bank as a client with specific needs, or is it treated as one bank among many?

If your vendor relationship isn’t working for you, we should talk. There is a solution for your bank.