Service Principles For Purchasing, Part I

PurchTips edition #31


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How To Better Serve Your Internal Customers

As a purchaser, you have customers. End users of the products you buy, management, engineers, the shop floor - these are all examples of your customers. And they want good service. They expect to be treated like patrons at a restaurant, guests at a hotel, shoppers at a store. This resource will give you some service principles that will enable you to delight your customers.

Principle #1 –Document & Share Your Action Plan

The first thing you should do when working on a project involving an internal customer is to communicate, in writing, what you are going to do and when you will be done. This helps customers understand all of the work involved in meeting their needs and sets their expectations for what constitutes a timely completion.

Principle #2 –Under-Promise & Over-Deliver

Imagine this: One pizza shop promised to deliver your pizza in 30 minutes, but actually delivered it in 40 minutes. Another pizza shop promised to deliver your pizza in 45 minutes, but actually delivered it in 40 minutes. Which pizza shop would you be upset with? Certainly not the one who performed better than the expectations that it set.

When you communicate timelines to your customers, under-promise. Give them a date that you can not only meet, but beat. They'll think you're excellent when you over-deliver (i.e., perform better than expected). If you do the opposite –over-promising and under-delivering –you'll quickly gain a reputation of incompetence.

Principle #3 –Update Customers Regularly

When there is a significant amount of time between the communication of your action plan and your completion of your work, give your customers regular updates of your progress. Without periodic communication, your customers will fear that you have forgotten their needs. Simply sending your customers a brief weekly email will give them comfort in planning their work while avoiding any impatient, ill-timed calls to you.

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