Wander through the business section of any bookstore and you will be astounded at the number of books on how to be successful business person. The latest wave of books is about relationships. But real professionals have always understood that people do business with people. If we were not such social creatures, Hallmark would not be so successful with its greeting cards.
Professionals strive for long-term, mutually beneficial relationships, believing that partnering with customers or suppliers provides value to both, a win-win situation. Certainly no professional wants to be a vendor, that word can have too many negative connotations. After all, a vending machine is just a mechanical devise that sporadically ejects a mediocre product.
A partnership is formed the way any relationship is built - on trust, consideration, respect and communication. A partner is as interested in your success as their own. A partner will be truthful, even if it means losing a "sale". A partner is considerate of your resources, and will not overwhelm your staff with calls and paperwork. Does it take time and patience to build a relationship? Of course!
We all have competitors who sell cost rather than value and quality. For someone with no stake in the business, or with short-term ambitions, cheap is an easy sell. Unfortunately, this creates customers who believe that all Third Party Administrators (TPA) are alike, and that low cost is the only consideration. We all see those customers coming through on their annual shopping trip, so we qualify our clients in order to weed out the short-term thinkers.
We do not produce widgets. We do provide a product and a service that involves emotional issues and great expense. We seek to work with quality people and organizations willing to deal with these issues, who proactively look to prevent problems and who work together to resolve conflict with viable solutions and alternatives.
When you look to TPA’s, carriers, PPO’s and managed care operations, you look for companies that provide the best products, perform consistently, and who view their customers as investments worth time and effort. You look for quality because that is how you view yourself, and how you expect to be viewed.
Business theories and buzz words will come and go, reform may tax our sanity and patience, but we have an edge. Together with our service partners, we present a united image of quality and stability, an advantage most competitors will never learn to cultivate and can never hope to buy.