The 8 characteristics of exceptional suppliers

I’ve read a lot about the characteristics of good leaders and of good employees. But what about the other important stakeholders of the enterprise — suppliers. I was reading an article,  “Everybody comes to work wanting to do a good job” by Harry Hertz in Inside Quality Insider about critical characteristics of exceptional employees. It struck me that many of these characteristics apply to good suppliers as well. Similar to employees, suppliers are stakeholders, too and their behaviors, capabilities, attitudes and performance can have a profound impact on a customer. Here are eight characteristics of exceptional suppliers:

1. Good suppliers want to meet more than the minimum requirements. They want to exceed their customers’ expectations and are willing to go the extra mile.

2. Good suppliers are leaders in what they do and role models. Their companies are the ones that the a customer wishes its other suppliers would emulate.

3. Good suppliers have a positive, can-do attitude.

4. Good suppliers are team players. They want to work with their customers so that both of them are winners.

5. Good suppliers communicate well and keep their customers informed. Good news as well as challenges. No surprises.

6. Good suppliers strive for excellent performance and want to make their customer (and customer contact) look good.

7. Good suppliers are flexible. When they learn of a good idea or business practice that they believe can improve their company, they will adopt it. Exceptional suppliers are early adopters, and their customers can learn from these suppliers.

8. Good suppliers want to improve and know how to improve. Continuous improvement is not a slogan. It’s reality. Good suppliers do not become complacent. They are always looking to improve, as they know the benefits of never standing still. If their customer uncovers important opportunities for improvement, good suppliers are positive about pursuing these opportunities and happy that their customer brought them to their attention.

Good suppliers can’t be exceptional for every customer. Good suppliers need good customers to be great suppliers. Most of the above characteristics will not be realized or may not even be discernible to a poor customer. Poor customers can prevent suppliers from being good and will not realize the benefits and ROI that a good supplier can enable.  In fact, the very same supplier can seem fair-to-middling to a poor customer and outstanding to a good customer. I’ll address the characteristics of a good customer in a future post.

Sherry R. Gordon

Author of:
Book: Supplier Evaluation and Performance Excellence: A Guide to Meaningful Metrics and Successful Results
CloudDVD: Supplier Evaluation and Performance Management

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