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The Value of Internal Customer-Centricity for Finance Leaders

Sponsored by Coupa

A strong focus on internal customer-centricity throughout the spend management process enables companies to maximize their performance while minimizing risk. Read this new report by The Hackett Group and Coupa Software.

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Finance leaders care most about optimizing financial results and increasing shareholder value. However, CFOs, controllers, and other finance brass must also minimize business risks within compliance areas, including financial reporting, audits and Sarbanes-Oxley. Maximizing employee performance and running an organization with the utmost agility and efficiency, while meeting compliance and risk mitigation requirements, is critical for finance leaders today in their quest to achieve their most important goals.

Spend Management systems and processes that enforce corporate policy, mitigate risk, and enforce compliance are critical. They’re not optional. But how painful do they need to be? Many systems in the market are antiquated and processes are both outdated and cumbersome. Finance leaders don’t want employees to experience holdups in getting the goods or services they need to do their core jobs because delays hurt the business. They also don’t want to see employees spend excessive amounts of time fumbling with poorly designed corporate systems and processes.

That’s why finance leaders need a “pull” mechanism – an infrastructure of internal solutions that get employees what they need while unobtrusively enforcing compliance and policy controls in the background. These systems must also appeal to the employees who use them. Finance leaders can learn from the customer centric focus applied by Retailers to attract, acquire and retain customers.

Lessons from the retail world Business leaders of all stripes may be familiar with the philosophy of customer-centricity embraced by retailers in recent years. From acquiring new customers and delivering a truly rewarding customer experience to creating a lifetime customer loyalty, embracing customer centricity can be a game-changer in terms of achieving business results. This customer centric approach can be summarized in three simple steps:

  • Step 1 - Convenience: Provide many options so customers can buy wherever they are and however they prefer.
  • Step 2 - Frictionless experience: Give them a guided and hassle-free shopping experience.
  • Step 3 - Fast delivery: Keep them informed and get purchase to them quickly.
Finance leaders should apply these customer-centered concepts to internal customers, employees and managers whenever they request or approve goods, services or travel. Taking a cue from retailers will not only improve employee satisfaction levels but also maximize performance and minimize risk.

Step 1: Convenience with Omnichannel Engagement In the consumer retail world, shoppers have multiple ways of engaging, including click-through online buying; online, real-time chats; and live customer support. The corporate world should not be any different. Omnichannel engagement makes multiple buying channels (e.g., help desks, self-service online catalogs, third-party aggregator sites) available anywhere and anytime to employees.

Leading companies provide:

  • Self-service, structured purchasing options for routine buys through internal catalogs, and supplier-hosted catalogs (also known as punchouts).
  • All self-service options personalized to groups of employees based on their location, business unit and/or role.
  • Concierge-style assisted buys with live support for the most complex categories.
Step 2: Frictionless Experience The best retail sites are ones that guide shoppers through simple steps to browse, select and check out. After the purchase, users aren’t burdened with unnecessary extra steps or details. Guided buying in the corporate world involves routing employees to a preferred supply source and process/transaction path through a simple, retail-like business-to-business experience. Leading companies provide:
  • Capability for buyers to easily search a catalog, compare features, add items to a cart, know where they are in the buying process, save a cart for later, and one-click checkouts.
  • Time-saving, automated capabilities for expense-report creation, including voice recognition, mileage tracking with GPS, credit card and travel site integration.
  • Technologies like electronic orders, PO flip, electronic invoices behind the scenes so employees are not burdened with queries from suppliers or the AP department.
Step 3: Fast Delivery The best consumer experiences are ones where buyers get exactly what they ordered, both on time and with a clear resolution path if problems arise. Similarly, in the corporate world, providing buying process status information upfront through self-service tools and making approvals easy lets employees and managers conduct many tasks themselves with greater efficiency and accuracy. Leading companies provide:
  • Real-time visibility for end users to understand where they are in the approval, purchase, and fulfillment process as well as visibility into past transactions.
  • Capability for managers to approve POs, invoices, expense reports, etc., over mobile devices; include information needed for quick decision-making within the approval notification.
  • Ability to add explanations to approval workflows or reasons for rejections of spend requests, reinforcing company guidelines to drive policy-compliant future behavior. A strong focus on internal customer-centricity throughout the spend management process lets internal customers (employees and managers) quickly and easily get the goods and services needed to do their job through company- approved channels. This approach maximizes company performance by achieving high spend savings and enabling employees to focus on their core jobs. It also minimizes risk by seamlessly embedding compliance with corporate policies and increased business with only contracted, approved suppliers.
Want to learn more about how to drive financial results and risk mitigation using an internal customer centric approach? Contact Coupa at