Give Procurement — and Other UNusual Suspects — a Seat at Your CX Table


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Include the “unusual suspects” at your CX table to extend your reach, multiply your impact, and build a culture that enables your CX vision instead of eating it for breakfast.

Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

A number of years ago on one of the final weekends before back to school, I took my daughter for ice cream to our local place. After choosing the much-anticipated “cookie dough” flavour and having it generously scooped into her cone, we walked out of the store and promptly had the ice cream fall right off the cone onto the sidewalk.

We walked back into the store so I could get her a replacement (no tears on my watch!). The manager had seen what happened and was already scooping a new cone as we walked in. He handed it to us, at no charge. Nice!

Then, on our way out there was a rush of people coming in. The entrance got busy and in the jostle to get out of the store the ice cream was soon on the sidewalk for a second time.

Determined to have ice cream, we walked back in. The manager was already scooping the ice cream, and again, there was no charge. I shared my surprise with him about how he had simply replaced the ice cream twice at no charge, all without any obvious stress or annoyance, and without having to be asked.

Then he shared the secret…

“We know these things happen, and our finance guy works this into our plans and budgets. This way we can tell our employees that when an ice cream falls, just go ahead and scoop another – it’s the right thing to do and we can afford to do it. I don’t want any tears, just people enjoying their ice cream!”

Just like that. They had planned for the exact scenario we had just experienced, and even brought in their accountants! It made me think of how often some key players – teams like Finance, Legal, Real Estate, and Procurement for example – are left out of CX discussions. All critical voices, and yet often left on the sidelines for some reason.

And it doesn’t take long to realize that these teams can have a huge impact on the experience your customers ultimately have. If you think about the number of times you’ve been dissatisfied with a company’s policies, product quality, shipping practices, store locations or payment terms, you know what I mean!

Build a Culture, Not a Program

Including the “unusual suspects” at your customer experience table results in valuable input and better ideas, more engagement, more hands to do the work, and ultimately helps you build a CX culture that has staying power, not just a program with an expiry date.

At TELUS, Customer Experience is a team sport. It is a part of everyone’s role no matter where you work within the company. This approach has evolved over time. Back in 2011, one of the steps we were taking as an organization to bring our CX focus to the next level was ensuring that everyone, regardless of role, had performance objectives and scorecard measures that supported our Customers First vision.

Now, for some this was pretty straightforward. Customer Care, Customer Insights leaders, and Sales are a few examples of teams that already had this as a priority. It took some planning and engagement to bring other teams into the fold, but when we did everyone got better. It helped us all up our game.

One of my favourite examples from that time was from our Procurement team. They really rose to the challenge. After significant effort they went from a scorecard that was 100% financial measures to one that was 60% customer experience measures.

Here’s how they did it. Instead of taking a transactional perspective – looking at a product or service that needs to be procured, sourcing it, and considering the job done – they took a customer experience perspective.

For example, the Procurement Team partnered with the Technical Support Team that took repair calls for TV service. They worked to better understand how the equipment they were procuring was being used, and how it impacted the experience of our customers. During initial reviews, they found that there was a brand of TV remote control that was creating a disproportionate number of repair calls into the repair call center.

With some more investigation the Procurement Team had detailed insight into the performance and customer experience with this remote, and they saw a clear opportunity to improve it. They ended up sourcing a new remote that turned out to be much more reliable and pretty indestructible. With that change, costs went down – fewer calls into the call centre, fewer remote replacements, and fewer replacement shipping costs, for example – and customer satisfaction went up. And as you can imagine, it made the tech support reps pretty happy, too.

Metrics and Scorecards

Now of course, this was about ensuring we all had metrics and scorecards that supported our Customers First vision, so, the Procurement team also took on the customer experience targets of the TV technical support team (talk about Teamwork!). They added them to their Procurement scorecard and continue to work on the experience together.

And to just take it one extra step (I told you this was a great story!) they also baked in customer experience metrics into their supplier agreements. The end result was that our TV customers had more TELUS Team Members in their corner dedicated to improving the experience they receive, as well as increased engagement from our suppliers. And, of course, our Tech Support had new partners to help them continually improve.

It was a great demonstration of how the more people you invite to your CX table, the more you will expand your company’s understanding of potential CX issues and be able to build effective and sustainable ways to address them.

If you haven’t done it lately, get to know your friends in those “other” CX groups — Finance, HR, Real Estate, Legal, or Procurement for example. Take them for coffee, learn more about what they do. Invite the “unusual suspects” to your CX table to extend your reach, multiply your impact, and build a culture that enables your CX vision instead of eating it for breakfast.

Krista Sheridan
Krista Sheridan is a Customer Experience veteran with a passion for helping people better understand how they are connected to the customer, the value of the work they do each day, and how to drive actions that engage customers and deliver strong business results. Krista's current focus at TELUS is Leadership Development for a Customer First Culture.


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