How to sustainably ensure satisfaction of your Procurement internal customers

Compass with needle pointing the word client, concept image to illustrate CRM, customer relationship management.

This is of course primarily by its professionalism and its rigor that a Procurement organization gains its credibility vis-à-vis its internal customers. This credibility is certainly the basis for a good relationship with its internal customers.

To improve and maintain the satisfaction of its internal customers to the right level, every contemporary Procurement organization regularly assesses (generally once a year) the perception that the latter have regarding the provided service, then selects and implements the appropriate improvement actions.

To drive this process, the ideal is obviously to meet your customers as part of an open discussion where you review the quality of service delivered by your Procurement organization. To strenghten the process, while avoiding to make it neither dehumanized nor cumbersome, it is relevant to rely on a formal process combining rigor and simplicity.

Such a process, called Management of Procurement internal customer satisfaction, or Procurement CRM, consists in applying the following macro-steps:

Processus CRM Achat - EN

  1. Measure/evaluate internal customers satisfaction consists in inviting your internal customers : (1) to score the Procurement organization according to a set of criteria defined at company level and (2) to make fact-based comments. Moreover, a good practice is that your Procurement organization self-assesses; this is a great way to condition your team members to the approach and thus to better prepare and succeed the following steps
  2. Develop the improvement plan based on the scores and comments set by the internal customers. The actions selected are submitted to customers who are certainly sensitive to the ones having the most value for themselves and for the company. As a result of this exercise, you get an improvement plan composed of actions and dates of implementation.
  3. Execution’s follow-up consists in making a periodic point on the progress of the improvement plan and in making any necessary adjustment.
  4. Go to step#1 periodically (usually annually)

This approach sounds simple to implement; however, you will increase your chances of success if you apply the few below tips.

  1. Always keep in mind that you will have the internal customers you deserve.
  2. Always keep in mind that such a process will never replace a human face-to-face discussion. Certainly put forward the benefits of strength and agility provided by such a formal process, but do not hesitate to physically or telephonically meet your internal customers to deepen their comments or their unspoken words.
  3. Engage your company board. Explain to your directors that mastering the satisfaction of your internal customers via such a process will contribute to value creation for your company.
  4. Always keep in mind that CRM is a continuous improvement process that needs to be run in a complete way, i.e according to the above mentioned macro-steps.
  5. Rely on an effective but simple evaluation model and that can easily be accepted by your internal customers. Do not reinvent the wheel, keep in mind that even if there is no standard regarding satisfaction assessment criteria, the most usual models cover 5 sections (Health/Safety/Environment, Communication-Organization-Interfaces, Sourcing activities, Transverse Services, Continuous Improvement & Innovation).
  6. Select a rating system for continuous improvement. For each assessment criteria, make sure your internal customers can easily tell you whether they are “Dissatisfied”, “Not Really Satisfied”, “Satisfied”, “Very Satisfied”.
  7. Involve your Procurement team upstream. Each team member, whatever his profile (sourcing professional, transactional agent, assistant, …), will feel even more responsible for the satisfaction of its direct customers but also for the satisfaction of his colleagues direct customers; moreover, do the self-assessment collectively with your team and encourage each team member to be proactive in offering ideas for improvement and innovation.
  8. Rely on your quality manager. If there is one in your company, the quality manager will be a great ally to support your approach especially if your company is certified or pending certification (ISO9001 for example).
  9. Make the right selection of the year period where you will conduct the approach. Do not launch your satisfaction survey during a period where your internal customers are particularly busy, thus you will avoid the process to be seen as a constraint.
  10. Involve your internal customers. Invite them to assess/evaluate each supplier whose they use the goods & services, and share with them the supplier improvement plan.
  11. Respect the commitments of the improvement plan. The execution of the improvement actions on which the team is committed will enable the Procurement organization to gain credibility.
  12. Adopt a suitable CRM e_Solution. This is undoubtedly the best way: (1) to structure your approach, (2) to effectively share data with your internal customers, (3) to consolidate this data and (3) to follow up the historic; once more, ensure this solution is considered by your internal customers as a pragmatic complement which objective is not to replace any face-to-face meeting or any human contact.

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