Every once in a while, a business book just clicks. This happened a few years ago for our procurement leadership team when we came across Raving Fans, a book by prolific author and leadership guru Ken Blanchard and co-author Sheldon Bowles.
Their take on customer service excellence aligned with something we had been thinking about for some time. They coined the term “raving fans” for customers who are so over the moon about the service they receive that they want to tell everyone about it. These are customers who every business—and every business function, including procurement—would love to have.
The people behind the numbers
Why did this concept of raving fans resonate so much with us? In working with procurement organizations in companies across industries, we deliver financial benefits as stipulated in the contracts we have with our clients. Delivering strong ROI is essential to our work. But there is another aspect that cannot be measured this way. Relationships. More specifically, relationships focused on elevating the role of procurement to bring new value to the whole organization.
We want the people we work with to become our raving fans—to embrace us, our processes, and how we engage on a daily basis. And in turn, we want procurement stakeholders in our clients’ organizations to become their raving fans too.
Keeping it simple and organic
The bottom line is that business relationships around economic value propositions alone do not have longevity. What sustains them is how people connect with each other. This is the common-sense reason why we made a decision to double down on creating raving fans.
It’s really a simple proposition. This is not about asking clients to check the right boxes on traditional scorecards or fill out generic customer service surveys. It is much more organic and informal. By making customer service and engagement a mantra, and by building rapport with authenticity and empathy, we have clients who champion what we do.
What people are saying
Over the years, we have received hundreds of unsolicited positive comments from clients. This is a testament to the outcomes-focused and collaborative spirit of our work together. We celebrate and share this feedback across our teams.
It is also eye-opening to share this feedback with our clients. They get a rare, at-a-glance view of the voice of the customer—including both people in the procurement organization and people across the business.
For example, our logistics team supported a project with a total spend of about $200 million, covering four companies, over 100 suppliers and delivered savings of $13 million. The client explained that “They assisted the team to evaluate alternatives we would not necessarily have considered, as well as brought us back to earth when what was proposed was too complicated for the timeline.”
In another example, a business stakeholder reached out about a sourcing project. “It’s not likely I can quantify the work and stress [the team] absorbed and turned into forward moving action items and tangible output, but their expertise allowed us to focus on our operational responsibilities with confidence.”
Sometimes the feedback is short and sweet. A client told one of our team members this: “You are my superman.” Other times, it is a thank you. “It was a pleasure to work with you, and we truly appreciated the sense of urgency that you gave to our project. The results speak for themselves. Again, thank you.”
An important reminder
We are proud of our Raving Fans not just for the positive social and business circle buzz it generates, but because it is an important touchstone for all of us. It is a unique reminder of the value of the interpersonal relationships that our teams have with procurement organizations and their stakeholders.