Vendors not trustworthy?

IT vendors rate about as highly as lawyers and politicians put together in end users' eyes, according to a new survey into buyers' attitudes to their suppliers.

IT vendors rate about as highly as lawyers and politicians put together in end users' eyes, according to a new survey into buyers' attitudes to their suppliers.

Just 15 per cent of IT professionals said they thought that most IT companies can be trusted completely and two-thirds didn't believe that firms were honest in describing their product, a survey conducted by market information group, TNS, reveals.

The survey questioned IT decision makers from the U.S., U.K., Germany and France. Guess what? The Brits are a sceptical lot. Just nine per cent of U.K. workers said IT companies can be trusted completely, compared to 19 per cent of those surveyed across the Atlantic.

But it's not all bad news. Surprisingly, it seems that the big boys don't fare so badly in the trust stakes. Multi-service providers, who operate across several sectors of IT – think Microsoft, IBM and their ilk – gain buyers' trust more than IT service providers, such as consultants and outsourcers.

Thomas Finkle, MD of TNS' global information technology practice, said that tech's colossuses are doing better because they have the weight of marketing on their side. "The biggest companies that we looked at have a market presence, supported by communications programmes and global advertising – that's key in building a relationship of trust. If you're seen as a big player and you're here to stay, that's significant in how trustworthy you're seen as."

There's a far more banal reason that buyers remain suspicious of sellers though. They don't want to see a P45 land on their desk. "This is particular to the IT market. Business-to-business end users often buy technology for their whole company. These big ticket, multi-million dollar purchases – if they go wrong, it's someone's job on the line... If it goes well, they're a hero," Finkle added.

So what, if anything, can vendors learn from the techno-sceptics? Apart from making sure they keep their promises, getting good after-sales support and having a quality, reliable product to start with, TNS' research shows that how vendors' behave is all-important.

One way to get consumers on your side is to sort out your public perception. The survey showed that IT buyers favour companies that are seen as being honest and having integrity, as well as those that are seen as well run.