The relationships that procurement professionals form with internal customers are critical – they can impact relationships with the company’s external customers, and therefore, the bottom line. While substantial research has been conducted about managing relationships with external stakeholders, much less attention has been paid to managing relationships with procurement’s internal customers.
The CAPS Research report Procurement’s Role in Creating Extraordinary Internal Customer Experience, Service Delivery, and Business Performance identifies seven best practices that create both extraordinary internal customer experiences and overall business success. We identified best practices in interviews conducted with senior supply management executives and their internal customers across a variety of industries.
Seven Best Practices to Create Extraordinary Internal Customer Experiences
- Identify key stakeholders
- Align on impactful objectives
- Understand stakeholders’ needs
- Cultivate sincere relationships
- Commit to effective communication
- Develop shared scorecards
- Create frictionless engagement
Now we’ll take a closer look at each of these actions you can take now to create an extraordinary internal customer experience.
- Identify key stakeholders: Even though segmentation of the customer base is predominantly a tool used by marketing practitioners for their external customers, it is important for supply management to segment the “internal market.” Procurement must identify internal consumers with similar needs and wants, and group them into relatively homogeneous segments so that processes can be tailored to these segments.
- Align on impactful objectives: Working relationships with internal customers should be structured as a partnership where all parties work toward a common set of business goals. This is especially important as procurement shifts from a transactional mindset to the practice of providing a crucial service in partnership with internal customers.
- Understand stakeholders’ needs: The ability to cultivate successful internal working relationships depends on developing a customer-orientation mindset. Procurement should be run like a business that is driven by customer needs and delivers value to meet and exceed those needs.
- Cultivate sincere relationships: Developing and maintaining good internal working relationships requires using interpersonal skills that compliment technical expertise. Go beyond formal organizational processes and procedures intended to promote teamwork.
- Commit to effective communication: Frequent two-way communication has a significant impact on procurement’s ability to serve its internal customers effectively. Procurement executives should evaluate existing channels and modes of communicating with their internal customers and see where improvements can be made.
- Develop shared scorecards: Reporting procurement’s internal metrics is unlikely to provide value to internal customers unless the metrics are aligned with the internal customer’s departmental goals and overall business goals.
- Create frictionless engagement: Improving internal working relationships depends on understanding and assessing the internal user experience, especially to identify any pain points that can be corrected. The use of surveys can be an effective and systematic way to do this.
While these seven best practices were common across the organizations we interviewed, every organization differed in how it implemented the best practices.
For more details and examples of the best practices that create extraordinary internal customer relationships, CAPS members can access Procurement’s Role in Creating Extraordinary Internal Customer Experience, Service Delivery, and Business Performance now.