Professional Development Pulse Blog In the world of modern procurement, your office is constantly doing business with citizens, vendors, and government agencies. Leaving a lasting positive impression on your customers is a key component of your central procurement office’s ability to conduct its mission. Happier employees will help you accomplish those customer service goals.  Customer service and agency relations  is number one on the 2019 NASPO Top 10 Priorities, cementing that customer satisfaction is important to CPOs across the country. When the ultimate end user in every procurement transaction is the taxpayer, each step in the procurement process is important, including customer service.  In 2003, two Canadian policy analysts conducted a study concerning public employee’s job satisfaction and customer satisfaction with government goods and services. They discovered the relationship between employee and customer satisfaction is reciprocal in nature. By investing in employee satisfaction, you will simultaneously see improvement in your customer satisfaction and agency relations. That’s two improvements with one action – two satisfactions with one procurement stone.

What if there was a way to improve customer service and agency relations, while simultaneously having your employee satisfaction go up? I’m here to tell you that you can! Improving employee satisfaction will directly improve your customer satisfaction. When you invest in employees, they add additional value to the services they are providing, which in turn creates customer satisfaction. Today, we are closely examining the two-way relationship between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. This relationship is mutually reinforcing. In the public sector we cannot control who interacts with our different offices, but we can control how our employees react to different customers. Customers value competence, courtesy, and fairness. These are pillars of the customer service world. When customers interact with the central procurement office, they want to know that the office is competent, they are being treated fairly and simple courtesy is being offered to them during the interaction from start to finish.

When a customer has a memorable experience, positive or negative, interacting with the central procurement office, they will typically let you know. Whether that be word of mouth, leaving a customer comment, sending an email about the interaction, or showing up to your office to discuss the interaction with you. When that experience is a negative one, it’s important to examine what factors you can control as the head of your agency. As public employers, we cannot control the citizenry or how they react to our services and policies. We can control the work environment of our employees, the ability of the agency to have a clear-cut career path for promotional or reorganization opportunities and reinforcing the importance of being of service to all members of the public—even on their bad days! Below are three easy ways you can invest in your employee satisfaction to simultaneously improve your customer satisfaction.

Instituting a mentorship program

Onboarding can be one of the most valuable times for a new employee. They are getting acclimated to your office culture, learning needed information to be a subject matter expert and trying to figure out where and who everything and everyone is! An easy way to improve the onboarding process is to assign new employees a veteran mentor. The mentor should be a relatively seasoned employee with experience. This will give the new hire a direct point of contact for all questions and concerns cutting down on workplace confusion. Your assigned mentor should work beside the new hire for the first few weeks setting the pace for work related expectations.

Positive communication

A culture of positive communication can help build a team mentality in the workplace. Communication is more than just talking, it’s connecting to people. Positive communication leads to more engaged employees, and  employees that are more engaged with their work are better aligned with your agency’s mission statement and policy objectives. Frame messages in a positive way. Be brief and specific. Offer an empathetic statement.  Acknowledging your employees’ feelings or point of view is a great way to defuse any tension.

Set clear performance expectations

Clarity is the pathway to solid results. In a large or small organization, clarity for performance expectations is always appreciated. There are multiple levels involved in successfully managing each employee in the central procurement office. Over-all agency goals and policies, individual goals, and the informal day-to-day goals can all become confused unless they are clearly outlined. Performance expectations should be mutually understood by both employer and employee. Expectations should be measurable, so you can track employee progress. Clear performance expectations help to set the road map for employees to achieve goals.

Previous research indicates that employee and customer satisfaction are inherently linked. This means that you can address issues with customer service by addressing your employees needs. Ways to improve employee satisfaction include implementing a mentorship program, setting clear performance expectations, and creating an environment which encourages positive communication.  A happier employee means you will have happier customers and this creates a glowing reputation for your procurement office.  What are some of the things you are doing to take advantage of this link between employee and customer satisfaction?