Commercial Insider: bringing the voice of the customer to Crown Commercial Service to deliver value for UK taxpayers

20 Sep 23

David Skinner is director of customer experience within Crown Commercial Service (CCS). He and his team focus on engaging and maintaining relationships with CCS’s 20,000 customers.

How does CCS help the public sector procure common goods and services?

CCS plays an important role in helping the UK public sector save money when buying common goods and services.

We use our commercial expertise to help buyers in central government and across the public and third sectors to purchase everything from locum doctors and laptops to police cars and electricity.

CCS has helped the public sector achieve record commercial benefits of £3.8bn in 2022-23.

Our aim is to embed a customer-first mentality across CCS. Ultimately, we bring the voice of the customer to CCS.

Our job is to inform colleagues throughout the organisation of what’s important to customers. For example, social value and the ‘local’ agenda, with the overarching aim of delivering value to UK taxpayers.

What is CCS doing to put public sector customers at the heart of what it does?

As a team, it’s our role to gather customer intelligence and combine it with data and market information. We then share this and work with commercial colleagues to build solutions that customers want and need.

We’re always looking for ways to make CCS easier to work with. For example, our new tail spend solution enables a ‘click and buy’ easy transactional procurement for low value ad hoc purchases.

The solution was developed after extensive engagement with CCS’s customers and the supply market.

Because we listen, our customers have confidence in using us.

Last year we worked with the NHS to provide solutions for virtual wards. This allowed over 100,000 patients to recover at home with hospital-level care, helping speed up their recovery while freeing up hospital beds for patients that need them most.

What are you and your team working on now?

CCS’s purpose is to help the UK public sector get better value for money. To do this we need to be able to make strategic decisions about where as an organisation we should be focused and where we can drive the most value for our customers in terms of commercial benefits.

There are over 70,000 public sector organisations and, with such a huge variation in their needs and challenges, we can’t possibly hope to get every product and service right for every single one of the sectors we operate in, let alone each individual customer.

We dilute our value by trying to do that.

We’re working on dividing up our market into differentiated segments, based on customer needs. We now have the best customer spend data we`ve ever had and we’ve created empowered decision groups called Delivery Authorities who have started to prioritise our activity to enable us to focus on what’s most important to customers.

How are you and your team helping customers to make responsible decisions about sustainability and social value?

We understand that public sector organisations are facing enormous pressures across their supply chains. In these circumstances, it might be tempting to prioritise other challenges rather than social value.

That’s why many of our frameworks, including our recently awarded Facilities Management and Workplace Services, now require suppliers to report on social value metrics including modern slavery, carbon net zero, small and medium-sized enterprise, making it easier for our customers to continue to take account of the latest public procurement policy.

We’ll continue to provide guidance for our customers on how the public sector can continue to work and support SMEs, for example, see our recent Procurement Essentials article.

To learn more about how CCS can help you make better buying decisions, download our digital brochure, or visit our social value webpage.

  • David Skinner

    Director of customer experience at Crown Commercial Service. David and his team focus on engaging and maintaining relationships with CCS’s 20,000 customers.

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