Good customer-supplier partnerships are tough to maintain. In today’s fast paced business world, it’s easy and even commonplace to end vendor agreements and break contracts at the drop of a hat. The more challenging or broken a business partnership is, the harder it is to find the light at the end of the tunnel. But there is always a silver lining, a better way forward, if both parties can agree to put aside their differences or negative past engagements. Luckily, you can rebuild damaged customer-supplier partnerships and get both parties back on track to profitability and a trusted partnership.

Determine what went wrong… then move on

Albert Einstein once said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” In order to move beyond business challenges, especially those that arise between customers and suppliers, it’s imperative for all parties involved to acknowledge and understand what went wrong and collectively decide to press forward in a new direction. This requires honest communication and critical feedback, which is often difficult to acquire unless the opportunity to provide insights can be done anonymously and quickly.

Face to face confrontations tend to increase anxiety and cause people to lie or sugar coat their thoughts by either discrediting themselves (“I don’t know your line of work, but…”) or squeezing critical feedback in between compliments (“You’re great at responding to requests quickly. Our orders have been consistently late, but you always give us a resolution within 24 hours.”).

Once all parties can agree where the partnership broke down, they can begin developing solutions. Solutions keep the ball moving forward and allow for beneficial collaboration that helps build engagement and, ultimately, relationships between customers and suppliers.

Forgive but never forget

Once everyone agrees what went wrong and what can be done differently moving forward to save and improve the partnership, it’s crucial that no one loses sight of the past. By maintaining a record of the feedback collected after the first (or last) issue, management can work to avoid the circumstances that led to the failure. For example, if the failure was a result of poor communication, management will want to ensure documented two-way communication is occurring on a regular basis. Whatever it takes, they will work to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen twice.

Remember, feedback has the greatest affect on business partnerships when it is put to use consistently; enabling active communication between customers and suppliers can align goals and responsibilities — making the relationship more profitable.

To learn more about building profitable customer-supplier relationships, check this blog post out. If you’re looking to explore an innovative approach to documenting the relationships between you and your suppliers, sign up for a free trial of getSayDo today.