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Customer Experience in Negotiation and Procurement with Rendi Miller, Ep #83

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Rendi Miller, the VP of Corporate Services and Source-to-Pay at Zendesk joins us to chat about great customer service. She shares her insights about what it’s like to work for a company whose business is literally customer experience and customer service. What customer service and experience insights do you have to develop first with your internal business stakeholders? How can people in procurement specifically improve interfacing with business stakeholders to develop trust and build relationships? This week’s podcast is a master class for procurement and sourcing professionals on building your customer experience toolkit. Don’t miss it!

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:56] Rendi’s background in procurement
  • [5:36] How can procurement leaders become customer-centric?
  • [8:55] Building internal relationships using technology
  • [16:11] What might hinder relationship building?
  • [19:30] Does procurement have systemic problems with trust?
  • [21:46] Practical ways to distribute the workload
  • [26:00] How to connect with Rendi Miller

How can procurement leaders become customer-centric?

One of their guiding principles at Zendesk is to create a product and be the customer service that their customer wants. It’s how Rendi views procurement and how she leads her team. She strives to ask “What does our customer want and how can we be the best partner to them?” You have to be aligned with your customer and know what’s important to them and what they need from their vendor(s).

Rendi emphasizes that procurement professionals have to become a subject matter expert in the areas you’re supporting as a member of the sourcing team. The ability to speak intelligently with your customers increases your credibility, builds trust, and develops those critical relationships.

Building internal relationships using technology

Rendi believes that procurement needs to implement tools that are geared toward collaboration and visibility. Rendi often sees frustration from business partners because they don’t know where things are at in the process. When technology can help them see where the project is, it’s really helpful.

But it also means they can see when things slow down or there’s a hiccup in the process. But overall, Rendi believes that visibility and transparency create accountability and drives relationships. Technology can’t replace relationships, but it can support and enhance them.

Building relationships with your customers

When you are partnering with a business and trying to move things forward for them, it’s not just about getting things done quickly. It’s about mitigating risk. It’s about protecting the company as a whole. Transparency is letting them know the reason and the purpose behind decisions.

Procurement has changed considerably due to GDPR. It’s also about protecting customer and employee data. There’s more rigor instilled on the procurement team to evaluate and look at contracts and the way vendors are processing data. Taking the time to explain those things to the business is important.

You want your team to be partnering with their stakeholders on an ongoing basis. You don’t step away when the contract is signed. You walk side-by-side and manage things together. When procurement teams step away it inhibits relationship building and damages trust. Keep listening to hear what Rendi believes inhibits relationships.

Practical ways to distribute the workload

Rendi has a shared service team in Manila whom they’re training how to handle lower-dollar transitions, lower risk contracts, etc. It gives the team in the US more time to work on larger-value contracts and supplier engagement.

Rendi also points out that you need a legal team that helps create playbooks that are easy to use. There’s no value in procurement negotiation for certain things. You need to educate and empower the business to know when to escalate to procurement or legal. Listen to hear some more practical pointers from Rendi Miller!

Resources & People Mentioned

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