Customer Success Part 1: Do you have a strategic relationship with your technology provider?

Customer Success Provider Technology
I recently joined Determine as their Senior Vice President of Customer Success, but it is not a new role for me. One of the primary things I work on with companies is the need to tell their success stories, whether internally or externally. Believe it or not, the reasons for doing this – regardless of the intended audience – aren’t as different as you might think.

Capturing success stories provides direct evidence of procurement’s ability to bring value, and it contributes to the influence of the department. Procurement can roll out systems, hit goals, and deliver measurable value for the company. But if these contributions are not being explicitly communicated, they are likely to escape notice. Connecting procurement’s abilities with an increased awareness of the value they bring elevates procurement within the organization.

If, on top of sharing those successes, procurement has a strategic partner that helps them quantify the value they create, they can provide a roadmap to success that will address both change management and the adoption of best practices.

What level of connection exists between your company and the provider?

Now that we’ve established the benefits of positioning procurement as value-added and having the support of a partner in capturing that value, let’s think about the nature of procurement’s relationship with that strategic partner.

A tactical arrangement – because you can’t really call it a partnership or a relationship – with a provider will be limited to having transactional benefits. But a strategic partnership comes with more visibility and more potential for getting things done. It seems reasonable to suggest that more insight must be provided in order to realize these expanded benefits.

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]The higher level this relationship is, the more value procurement will get from the relationship[/inlinetweet] because the provider has greater insight into the driving objectives of the company as a whole. If you are blocking your provider(s) from having executive-level contact, you need to ask yourself “why?” What is the purpose of keeping the provider in the dark about the company’s priorities and objectives? Are you also unintentionally preventing them from helping you achieve higher levels of value?

What kind of conversation are you having with your provider?

If 90% of the conversations between procurement and a provider are based on inquiries regarding support ticket status or discussions of bugs in the system, it might be due to one of two things; either the provider is not capable of delivering more, or procurement has a limited view of the potential benefit associated with that provider. Both explanations are dangerous, and neither will lead to strategic or value-oriented results. If your provider is “just another vendor,” you can hardly look to them to deliver strategic value.

Does it take one to know one?

One of the connections that some procurement teams don’t make is the connection between how their providers are positioned and how they are viewed themselves. If procurement’s technology provider is not viewed or positioned as strategic internally, then there is a good chance procurement is not positioned or viewed as strategic either. Who better to partner with than a company that is bound to benefit from procurement’s ascent up the ladder of internal influence?

The final question that remains is how to capture and measure that value. In my next post, I’ll describe my framework for customer success – one that includes efficiency, effectiveness, and overall value.

If you’d like to learn more about increasing procurement’s value and influence in your organization, check out our archive of blogs, webinars and research. Better yet, schedule a personalized demonstration of the Determine Cloud Platform and we’ll show you.

Still quiet here.sas

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