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Supplier Surveys: Enhancing Partnerships & Pipelines

One essential tool for enhancing supplier relationships and optimizing the supply chain is the supplier survey.

Below, we’ll delve into what a supplier survey is, its purpose, and provide examples of supplier survey questions.

What is a supplier survey?

A supplier survey is a process where businesses gather feedback from suppliers who provide goods or services to the company. By seeking input from suppliers, organizations gain a deeper understanding of how they perceive product quality, communication, and overall satisfaction levels.

There are two types of supplier surveys; current supplier surveys (aka supplier feedback questionnaires) and potential supplier surveys (aka new supplier questionnaires).

Current supplier surveys aim to collect feedback about the supplier’s experience in working with your company. By analyzing this feedback, you can make well-informed decisions, pinpoint areas for improvement, and strengthen your partnerships with suppliers.

Potential supplier surveys ask many of the same questions but aim to determine whether you want to work with them.

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What's the purpose of a supplier survey?

Supplier surveys serve multiple purposes and yield significant benefits for businesses:

  1. Enhancing Supplier Relationships:
    Regular feedback through supplier surveys fosters open communication, strengthening the bond between businesses and suppliers.
  2. Identifying Areas for Improvement in the Supply Chain:
    Insights from supplier surveys help identify weak points in the supply chain, allowing businesses to implement necessary improvements.
  3. Assessing Supplier Performance and Quality:
    Supplier surveys aid in evaluating performance, ensuring they meet standards and deliver quality services or products.

What should be considered in a supplier survey?

A well-designed supplier survey should cover a range of topics that assess everything from supplier satisfaction to product/service quality.

By writing both open-questions and closed-questions, businesses can gain comprehensive insights into the strengths and weaknesses and improve supplier relationships.

Below, we’ll explore some essential topics to consider in a supplier survey:

  • Overall Satisfaction: Assess the suppliers’ overall satisfaction level with the partnership experience.
  • Communication and Responsiveness: Evaluate the effectiveness of communication channels and the promptness of responses.
  • Product/Service Quality: Gather feedback on the quality and consistency of the products or services provided by the supplier.
  • Delivery and Fulfilment: Assess the efficiency and reliability of the delivery and fulfillment processes.
  • Cost and Pricing: Determine if the pricing and payment terms align with the value provided by the supplier.
  • Supplier Support: Evaluate the level of support and assistance offered by the supplier when dealing with issues or challenges.
  • Understanding of Business Needs: Measure how well the supplier understands and meets the specific needs of the business.
  • Innovation and Improvement: Determine if the supplier contributes to continuous improvement and offers innovative solutions.
  • Reliability: Assess the supplier’s reliability in meeting deadlines and fulfilling commitments.
  • Flexibility: Evaluate how well the supplier adapts to changes in requirements or circumstances.
  • Risk Management: Identify the supplier’s approach to risk management and their ability to mitigate potential risks.
  • Communication of Changes: Gather feedback on how effectively the supplier communicates changes that may impact the partnership.
  • Feedback and Complaint Handling: Evaluate the supplier’s responsiveness to feedback and how they handle complaints or concerns.
  • Long-term Relationship: Determine the supplier’s willingness to foster a long-term and collaborative partnership.
  • Suggestions and Additional Feedback: Encourage suppliers to provide additional feedback and suggestions for improvement.

How to survey suppliers

To successfully gather insights from suppliers, consider the following approaches:

  • Use a Supplier Survey Questionnaire Template: The easiest way to begin would be with a supplier survey template. This will depend on the survey tool you’re using, but you can always use the questions in this article as a template.
  • Leverage Customer Satisfaction Survey Templates: Many of the questions that are standard to CSAT surveys will apply to suppliers too. So, if you’ve surveyed customers in the past, you can save time by duplicating this and making a few small changes.
  • Ask Both Closed and Open-Ended Questions: Combine closed-ended questions for quantitative analysis and open-ended questions for qualitative data. The open feedback will also provide much-needed context to closed questions.
  • Measure Your Net Promoter Score (NPS): Implement Net Promoter Score to gauge supplier loyalty and find your advocates.

Pro Tip

Always ask your important questions first. This means that even if your completion rate is low you still have the data you need to make
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Examples of supplier survey questions

These carefully crafted questions will enable you to collect valuable supplier feedback. Allowing you to make data-driven decisions, strengthen supplier partnerships, and enhance overall supply chain efficiency.

However, you can also use them with potential suppliers, who you’d like to know more about before entering a partnership.

General information questions about the supplier

  • How long have you been a supplier for our company?
  • Which product or service category do you provide?
  • In which industry sector does your company operate?
  • What is the approximate annual sales volume of your company?
  • Where is your company’s primary location or headquarters?

Performance and service related questions

  • How satisfied are you with our order fulfillment process?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the quality of the products/services you provide?
  • How would you rate our team’s responsiveness to your inquiries and concerns?
  • How satisfied are you with the timeliness of our resolution to any issues you’ve faced while working with us?
  • From your perspective, do you feel that we encourage innovation and continuous improvement in our collaboration?

Communication and responsiveness questions

  • How would you rate our responsiveness to inquiries or issues?
  • Do you find our communication channels effective for addressing concerns?
  • Do you find the information and updates provided by our team clear and easy to understand?
  • How often do you feel we proactively reach out to keep you informed of any changes that may affect our collaboration?
  • Are you content with the availability of our team members for communication and support?

Quality and reliability questions

  • How do you ensure the consistent quality of the products/services you provide to our company?
  • Can you describe the quality control measures you have in place to maintain high product/service standards?
  • How do you handle instances of product defects or service shortcomings if they occur?
  • From your perspective, how reliable do you consider your company as a supplier to meet our needs consistently?
  • How often do you meet the agreed-upon delivery timelines for the products/services?

Cost and pricing related questions

  • How do you ensure that your pricing remains competitive in the market compared to other suppliers?
  • Do you believe that the value you offer aligns well with the pricing of your products/services?
  • How transparent do you consider our pricing and cost breakdown for the products/services you provide?
  • Are the current payment terms we have in place suitable for your company?
  • Do you offer any cost-saving opportunities, bulk discounts, or loyalty incentives for long-term collaboration?

Key characteristics of a supplier evaluation survey

A well-designed supplier evaluation survey possesses the following characteristics:

  • Relevance to Business Objectives: Ensure that each question aligns with your business goals and objectives.
  • Clear Questions: Craft straightforward questions that suppliers can easily understand and respond to.
  • Balanced Rating Scales and Answer Options: Offer balanced scales to avoid response bias and obtain accurate feedback.
  • Adequate Benchmarking for Comparison: Establish benchmarking criteria to evaluate suppliers against industry standards.
  • Regular and Consistent Survey Intervals: Conduct surveys at regular intervals to track changes in supplier satisfaction and performance.

Pro Tip

To increase your response rates as much as possible, make your survey available in as many channels as possible. E.g. Link, Email, Web Embed, QR Code, and Pop-Ups.
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Wrapping up

Supplier surveys play a pivotal role in nurturing strong supplier relationships, optimizing the supply chain, and achieving overall customer satisfaction.

By employing various survey techniques, businesses can gather valuable insights to improve their operations and provide exceptional customer experiences.

Remember that consistently measuring supplier satisfaction and acting upon feedback will lead to a more successful business in the long run.

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