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Tell service providers who have competed for your business why they weren’t picked

Being a consultant to law departments for 20 years and therefore a seller of consulting services, I fervently urge lawyers and administrators in law departments to treat vendors with empathy and courtesy (See my post of Aug. 9, 2006 about responding to vendors.). An aspect of fair treatment is to have the decency to tell service providers why they were not chosen. Believe me, it’s all too easy for the disappointed ones to feel used, to suspect the choice was not on the merits, or to carry on without any idea how to improve. Silence after a loss hurts much more than the most stinging criticism.

While you’re at it, the reasons need to be something the service provider can improve. It does no good to tell a disappointed consultant that “it really came down to chemistry” or a software developer “we just sort of liked Brand X better.” No one can improve when told such fluff. In your career, you would like to know why you were not promoted or given a larger bonus; tell vendors something useful if they lose.