A high-quality customer service relationship with stakeholders is vital to organizational success, especially in public procurement. Providing exceptional customer service to all agency stakeholders is not only the right thing to do, but it builds new relationships and strengthens current relationships that will set your office up for success.
A successful procurement office advocates for a strong customer service practice because it creates a positive work environment where all parties involved can thrive and continue to elevate the profession of public procurement. Establishing effective communication at all levels is central to this because it supports the development of a procurement office’s customer service aptitude- leading to unrivaled benefits.
4 Factors to Boost Customer Service in Your Procurement Office
1. Be Responsive
Highly effective responsiveness is synonymous with high morale. When a stakeholder’s needs are met or exceeded promptly, it impacts their overall experience and performance. This naturally incentivizes a stakeholder to work and innovate at the highest level. When a stakeholder is motivated by a procurement office that is distinctly responsive to their requests, the stakeholder performs at a more favorable level for the office. Some tips on how to be effectively responsive to stakeholders are as follows:
Have an open-door policy. Make sure your stakeholders, on all levels, know that they can voice their needs without any backlash. Be open and direct.
Manage expectations. A stakeholder has the right to know what is required of them. Ensure that all stakeholders know that responsiveness is a priority. Do not mislead a stakeholder in terms of expectations.
Be organized and have a schedule. To respond to a stakeholders’ needs most effectively you must be organized. Have a transparent schedule so they best know how to approach you regarding a request.
2. Exceed Expectations
A public procurement office must always comply with service levels established in a mutual contracted agreement with stakeholders. It is always best business practice to meet a standard that is agreed upon. A great start to show that customer service is a priority is to not only comply with service level agreements but to go above and beyond what is expected in said agreement. NASPO’s tips on how to exceed expectations in a contract:
Be punctual. When you sign a service level agreement you must respect the agreement and ensure that you uphold every aspect of that agreement in a timely fashion. It is good practice to meet any agreed deadline a few days in advance. By doing this you leave room for unintended error and time to patch up any potential mistakes. This ensures that the agreement is upheld while maintaining high satisfaction levels to the stakeholder.
Be prepared. Things happen, agreements may change over time, new legislation may be passed, and other external factors can occur which affect the core of an agreement. Be prepared for sudden change and comply with a stakeholder’s requests in a respectful manner so that current and future agreements can prosper.
3. Build Trust
Trust is key with suppliers because a public procurement office needs to ensure that a supplier is complying with a state’s standards, statutory law, and values.
Trust is also a significant factor, not only in growing and maintaining a relationship with stakeholders, but it is crucial in times of crisis as we have learned during Covid-19. Just imagine…
State Procurement Office A and State Procurement Office B have a relationship with a mutual supplier of gloves, facemasks, and gowns.
State Procurement Office A: This State Procurement Office is in regular contact, has a transparent, respectful communication practice, has established expectations of partnership, and has routine check-ins.
State Procurement Office B: This State Procurement Office has used this supplier once in the past, has had several miscommunications and long wait times, and has zero interpersonal relationships fully established.
As the supplier, which State Procurement Office are you more likely to choose? The obvious answer is A. Reaping the rewards of high-quality customer service through trust can not only make daily operations run more smoothly, and you never know when it can save lives in a time of crisis.
4. Reach Satisfaction
High satisfaction levels are highly sought because they are imperative for customer-client relations and act as a catalyst for innovation. By providing a high satisfaction level for all stakeholders, their output significantly increases herein optimizing overall business. There are many ways to maintain high satisfaction levels in terms of providing quality customer service. Some tips on how to do so are listed below:
Seek feedback. A state procurement office should constantly seek feedback to ensure that their day-to-day operations of business meet high satisfaction levels for all stakeholders. The data provided from this feedback will help a procurement office maintain its satisfaction or even increase overall satisfaction.
Respond to the feedback. When a stakeholder takes note that their request is actively responded to, this results in a positive change. A stakeholder wants to be heard, and when their wants are heard, it will increase their overall satisfaction.
Be upfront. Constant communication and transparency will create a positive work environment where a stakeholder is highly satisfied and contributes effectively.
Lastly, effective project management can support high-quality customer service, as they are both grounded in organization and communication. Like in customer service, in project management punctuality and preparedness are emphasized. It is crucial to have highly trained project managers at the forefront of customer service to ensure that all customer service is being attended to accordingly and appropriately.
Want to elevate your customer service with some project management?