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How to Interpret Questions in a Tender

What is the Buyer really asking?


Tips on how to ‘tune in’ to the Buyer

A good technique is to consider the whole circumstances surrounding a question, and ask yourself what the buyer is really getting at. Then consider the answer in bullet point form.



My client provides a service to householders, on behalf of Local Authorities.

A recent question asked my client to describe the last complaint they had received, and what they had learned from it. 


In reality, the buyer is trying to ascertain the STRENGTH of the complaints procedure, and WHAT was implemented to prevent recurrence. The actual complaint is irrelevant.


The response submitted showed bullet points which clarified:-

  • The nature of the complaint
  • The creation of a computerised complaint log
  • The allocation of a named individual to investigate  the complaint
  • Identification of the relevant hard copy file using the computerised reference number of the service visit which was the subject of the complaint
  • That the hard copy of the signed householder satisfaction note was found immediately, scanned and made available within an hour of receipt of the complaint.
  • That the lessons learned were that the complaint procedure and supporting data systems are robust and work well.


We added that :-

  • The householder (complainant) apologised after receiving my client’s feedback via the Local Authority concerned.
  • The Local Authority was very pleased with the response
  • This represented one of only two complaints in eight years, in which my client undertakes

circa 4000 such services per annum.


Consequently, in our tender response, we provided an answer which more than simply states the details of the complaint concerned.  It gave answers to the buyer that :-

  • my client has the ability and technical capability to act promptly and precisely when a complaint is      received,
  • the complaints system is robust
  • very few complaints had been made.




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