Stakeholder Management... help!
PROCUREMENT and Supply Australia’s MD, Nigel Wardropper, told me stakeholder management is consistently the top of buyers’ biggest concerns.
Procurement managers, and even CPOs, have trouble getting “buy-in” and acceptance of the supplier deals and processes that they put in place for the benefit of the company.
This is certainly the case for travel management.
Travel is a contentious and sensitive thing inside many companies. Nearly everybody expects a nice lounge, a better seat, and a flash hotel and many staff think they are better travel agents than travel agents. Incidents or stories of poor service or expensive pricing ripple out and confirm the naysayer’s negative beliefs.
The complexities of travel and booking it are given little thought & clients expect perfect outcomes 100% of the time.
Given the complexities and the number of parties involved, dissatisfaction with travel suppliers inevitably happens.
Whenever a client has a problem, it’s an opportunity; a chance to improve your service and relationship by helping them to solve it. Travel buyers are often reluctant to raise internal issues with their TMC and so this opportunity can go unrecognised and unattended.
Whether you’re pitching for new business or providing account management service to an existing client, I think it’s a good idea to ask about the level of support travel arrangements have internally.
If the buyer doesn’t know, offer to help with a suitable internal survey to find out. If they aren’t interested, at least you’ve shown your enhanced service stripes.
Be ready with an understanding of the issues that can occur and their causes, practical ideas for improving internal understanding and acceptance and be ready to cop one on the chin if one of the results is a complaint about you.
If you don’t have a reliable means of gathering information, issues can go unattended and bad feelings can fester.
I’ve seen procurement managers are usually happy to stay with a TMC despite service issues, if the problems seem likely to be fixed. From the TMC, there needs to be recognition, action and outcome, pretty quickly once the situation is known.
Ideally, there are no problems, but if there are it’s much better for the TMC to discover and act on them first without having to be told about them by the client.
“Whenever a client has a problem, it’s an opportunity… ”