Vendor Customer Service: An Oxymoron?

Jan. 3, 2012
I was talking to yet another client that is frustrated with their software vendor. Anytime they ask for a screen change it seems like that “their” issue is one they have never heard before and it is something special. Yet, the same screen change is common across the client user groups, discussed at recent conferences and something that is intuitive to the workflow. But of course, the vendor quotes a large dollar amount to do this “custom” change. Is it really ethical to keep charging for the same change that has already been programmed, the code written, tested in another environment and now can be used at another client site?

I was talking to yet another client that is frustrated with their software vendor. Anytime they ask for a screen change it seems like that “their” issue is one they have never heard before and it is something special. Yet, the same screen change is common across the client user groups, discussed at recent conferences and something that is intuitive to the workflow. But of course, the vendor quotes a large dollar amount to do this “custom” change. Is it really ethical to keep charging for the same change that has already been programmed, the code written, tested in another environment and now can be used at another client site?

I know that no two systems are identical, but a simple “install” fee for testing or tweaks would make more sense than trying to tell the client that this is something “custom” to them. How about being more transparent and listing all the custom changes. Maybe publish ideas generated from client sites and let the clients view it to see if it would solve some of their pain points. Yep, hard to manage from a vendor perspective; but great for the users. But then again, it’s not really about what the client wants, it’s about minimizing the changes to streamline support. The vendors know that their product is not something that you can just pull the plug and go somewhere else. But it sure does seem like many organizations are doing just that.

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