Enterprises increasingly embrace procurement as a value-adding process flush with opportunities for advancing their triple bottom line of people, profit and planet. And today, we look at that first one: people.

In this article, we examine one crucial question:

How can procurement become an opportunity to build better relationships?

The role of customer centricity in procurement

Consider eating a meal in a restaurant. Did the restaurant have a decent website? How easy was it to drive there? What was the parking situation like? Did the building’s facade look inviting? Were you greeted courteously? Was your table ready on time? Was the restaurant too noisy, too quiet, too crowded, too empty?

That’s over half a dozen customer experience touchpoints. And you haven’t even ordered your food yet.

The procurement journey is no different. It’s filled with touchpoints that are opportunities for surprising and delighting customers and building genuine, mutually valuable relationships. Identifying those touchpoints and smoothing the path is where customer-centricity comes to the fore.


Defining customer-centricity in procurement

Customer-centricity in procurement is an ongoing mindset that puts the customer at the centre of the experience.

It’s about understanding your customer, what their journey looks like and what you can do to serve them. It’s taking your entire procurement pipeline and viewing it through the lens of your customers. What roadblocks do they face? What will make the process easier for them?


“Procurement will be a true business partner, not a spend gatekeeper”

Jason Jordan, Principal, Procurement and Outsourcing Advisory, KPMG US


How you make people feel

Customer centricity needs to account for the entire experience. How are you making people feel? It’s not just about an end result. Did you make people feel confident, calm and empowered throughout the procurement process? Did they have the information, tools and collaboration needed at each stage?

Customer effort score

Metrics like customer effort score can be invaluable in evaluating the customer experience. While customer effort score traditionally pertains to technology, the logic can be applied across all aspects of your procurement pipeline. How easy was it to accomplish a task? How much easier was it than before? What measures can you put in place to reduce that score?

Identifying and removing friction

Identifying the friction points and finding ways to remove them will lead to a better customer experience. How can we bring our core customers closer and improve collaboration? How can we remove sticking points on the customer journey? What software, process or procedure could be used to make this smoother?

Customer experience for different customer groups

Procurement touches more customer groups than any other function in your organisation

The customer experience will vary for every business and every customer type. Understanding different customer groups and the unique challenges they face will go a long way to ensuring a great customer experience.

Think about your most important customers and their individual needs from a procurement perspective.

The procurement customer experience encompasses everyone from executives to vendors and internal buyers. Each of these segments is an opportunity to build trust and optimise customer relationships.

It’s all about tailoring the experience to individual customer groups.

  • Executives and leaders
  • Internal buyers and service users
  • Vendors and suppliers
  • Your procurement team

What value are you placing on customer centricity?

Mark Reddy recently asked procurement leaders what kind of “centricity” they identified with as an organisation. Were they customer-centric, compliance and governance-centric, savings-centric or value-centric? The results were telling:

  • 38% customer-centric
  • 32% compliance and governance centric
  • 16% savings-centric
  • 14% value-centric

Almost 40% of procurement leaders claimed to be customer-centric in their business approach.

What makes for a good procurement customer experience?

A good customer experience boils down to relationships. Putting a human face on procurement and truly connecting with stakeholders. This will inevitably look different for every customer group, but a common factor involves anticipating needs and eliminating friction points to deliver a smooth procurement experience. For an executive, that might look like clear deliverables and less noise. For a supplier, it might look like easy collaboration and smooth onboarding.

How to create an amazing procurement customer experience

Want to know more about how to implement customer centric procurement and how it can benefit your business? We’ve also published a white paper on Procurement Customer Experience (PCX) which you can access below. It provides key information on PCX and it’s key customer groups, discusses the value in putting these customer groups first and outlines the impact of the benefits which PCX can deliver.