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The growing importance of customer centricity in procurement
Blog //03-07-2023

The growing importance of customer centricity in procurement

by Mark Dewell, SVP > Education, Government and Social Housing

Good customer experience in procurement means putting the customer at the centre of everything that we do. If we look at the customer experience through a unified lens, we can begin to understand that customer centricity is not only about delivering the services that procurement teams offer. It also about having a greater appreciation of your customers and their needs, whether that be a supplier, an internal non-procurement service user, or the public for example.

Understanding your customer means considering what their individual journey with procurement looks like, how you can best serve them and identifying the different types of customers you may work with. What roadblocks do they face? What will make the process easier for them?

What makes for a good procurement customer experience (PCX)?

A good procurement customer experience is all about building great relationships throughout the entire source to contract journey. We want to enable customers to self-serve but to do so we must first take the time to uncover the unique issues that they are facing in their organisation, share expertise, and collaborate on reaching a solution.

This experience will inevitably look different for every customer group, but a key factor to always consider is how we can put a human face on procurement, to ensure customers feel valued and to authentically connect with key stakeholders. By doing this you are:

  • Accounting for the entire customer procurement experience, not just the end result.

  • Empowering your customers. Taking time to consider how you make people feel when they work with you throughout their procurement process. Do you make them feel confident and calm?

  • Eliminating friction points. How easy is it for you to meet the needs of your customer? Will you supply them with all the tools, knowledge, and collaboration they need at each stage?

  • Tailoring the experience. How well do you understand the individual needs of each of your customer groups? How can you improve this to strengthen relationships?

Customer experience for different customer groups

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

  • Executives and leaders
  • Internal buyers and service users
  • External users such as vendors, suppliers, and partners
  • Your internal procurement team

For every business and every customer type, the journey they have with you through their procurement process will be different. If you take the time to communicate with your customers (such as your suppliers), to understand your different customer groups, and the unique challenges they face, you can start to anticipate their needs and eliminate tension to deliver a smoother procurement experience, with increased visibility and quality of data. A better relationship with the customer often leads to better outcomes for your organisation too.

A good procurement customer experience should liberate and democratise the process as much as possible so that all parties can work together efficiently to deliver on their specific outcomes.

For an executive, that might look like achieving a better understanding of clear deliverables and greater visibility of their business. For a supplier, it might look like easier collaboration and a smoother onboarding. Think about your most important customers and their individual needs from a procurement perspective.

How to measure customer experience

We should be challenging the idea that procurement is a ‘one size fits all’ process. Customers are not looking for an off the shelf solution. So, if we can understand the complex concerns procurement users have in their organisation, then we can very easily tailor individual experiences.

To measure success, we can look at factors such as a decrease in rogue spend, as a result of improving your non-procurement customer relationships and therefore the efficiency of your supply chain. We can track how many people are using your spend management system or platform, adoption is key and if internal and external users are engaging as expected then this would be considered as success, whilst also giving your organisation great data insights. We can also consider implementing a customer effort score to calculate the customer experience. Although this usually relates to technology, the principle can still 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?

How is good procurement customer experience (PCX) going to benefit your organisation?

The way that you think about delivering your procurement services is going to allow you to differentiate your business. Good PCX will empower your internal processes, the broader community, and front-end users. It enables self-service by allowing users to interact with technology in a way that suits their needs. It supports collaboration internally and externally, and it drives unconscious compliance within your organisation, by creating a smoother user journey that gives accurate and up to date data. Therefore, strengthening the procurement and data insights for your company to boost your strategic success.

Executives will always be involved in the buying cycle at some stage, whether it is to agree a budget or approve a project, but if we can first look to serve the end users and suppliers, then we are considering some of the most critical contributors to our procurement outcomes from the start of the procurement journey.

If a successful relationship is established, then the role of the supplier should be to understand your business requirements and to deliver the value needed for your organisation to execute business objectives. This means having open and frequent communications, where you can negotiate better deals or your supplier can make strategic suggestions based upon your outlined requirements, because you have spent time working collaboratively together and they truly understand your needs. Suppliers can also massively contribute to your ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) outcomes through sourcing and supply chain, so it is imperative that you have the ability to access good data and visibility on these. Internal procurement teams are constantly called upon for support due to an absence of technology, a lack of understanding around core processes, poor supplier outcomes, and a skills shortage, meaning non-procurement users may struggle operating internal and external systems.

If you can create an optimal user and customer experience within your organisation, it positions you as a partner of choice, it will allow you to better collaborate internally and externally, you can attract and retain staff, and through a better procurement pipeline you will unlock critical data insights into your business with a stronger supplier database, allowing you to make more informed decisions to reach your strategic objectives faster.

If you would like to learn more about how to strengthen your procurement customer journey to unlock capabilities within your organisation, please visit:

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Mark Dewell

Mark Dewell


SVP > Education, Government and Social Housing

Mark brings a track record of success in senior leadership positions in the software sector. Mark is renowned for ensuring customers benefit from connected technology solutions.

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