Procurement teams typically spend a great deal of time evaluating the performance of their supply base and setting relevant and meaningful KPIs. While there’s no doubt that this approach can drive superior supplier performance, top quality service, and innovation, the best buyer-supplier relationships are built on a foundation of respect, trust, and mutual satisfaction.

A Voice of Supplier survey is provided to vendors by procurement professionals to help the latter assess and improve their suppliers’ satisfaction levels. These questionnaires ultimately facilitate the development of more strategic and transparent partnerships.

Voice of Supplier Survey

Looking to develop a Voice of Supplier (VoS) survey for your organization but not sure where to begin? Look no further. We’ve developed a list of the most important questions to include, which can be divided into six core subject areas.

Alignment between buyer and supplier

Striving for alignment between buyer and vendor will help your supplier relationships to flourish. A high score in this area indicates that your vendors feel heard and are comfortable collaborating with your organization and influencing the partnership’s strategic direction.

To assess business alignment, ask the following questions:

  1. How well do your business’ values align with the buyer’s values?
  2. Do you feel that the buyer approaches the relationship like a business partnership?
  3. Does the buyer keep you informed and up-to-date when it comes to important decision-making that will impact your business.
  4. Does the customer measure and report on your performance consistently and fairly?
  5. Does the customer measure and report on their own performance consistently and fairly?
  6. Does the customer allocate sufficient time to learn about, and accommodate, changes to your business?

Good communication between buyer and supplier

Long gone are the days when buyers could get away with managing their suppliers with an iron first. Today, successful relationship are built on good communication and long-term meaningful relationships.

A high score in this area indicates that your supplier enjoys working with you and feels engaged with the relationship.

Ask these questions to assess the effectiveness of your communication:

  1. Do you find it easy to work with the buyer?
  2. Has the buyer developed and implemented an effective SRM strategy?
  3. Does the buyer communicate clearly and concisely?
  4. Does the buyer encourage and welcome your feedback and are there formalized processes in place for you to provide it?
  5. Do your contacts at the buying organization prioritize fostering meaningful relationships with your team?,

Driving innovation

One of the biggest benefits of an effective buyer-supplier relationship is the increased opportunities to drive creativity and innovation. A high score in this area suggests your vendor feels confident that you are fully leveraging their unique skills and talents.

To assess whether you are driving innovation with your supplier, ask the following questions:

  1. Does the buyer prioritize innovation and long-term value creation over short-term cost-savings?
  2. Does your buyer acknowledge and celebrate your service offering beyond cost reduction?  
  3. Does the buyer encourage you to produce the best products or deliver the best service possible?
  4. Does the buyer set aside time for you to pitch new ideas and are they typically receptive to these ideas?
cost reduction strategies

Commercial success for the vendor

It’s important that the vendor’s employees feel happy and comfortable working with your organization, but the partnership also needs to drive profit for their business. A high score in this area suggests that the vendor values the relationship from a commercial perspective.

Are you creating value for your vendor? Ask the following questions to find out:

  1. How high is the cost of working with the buyer compared to your other clients?
  2. What proportion of your annual business revenue comes from the buyer? 
  3. Do you have a comprehensive understanding of how the buyer awards contracts?
  4. To what extent does the buyer directly influence how you operate your business in terms of the products and services you offer, the regulations you follow, etc.?
  5. How often do you prioritize the buyer’s needs over other clients and how does this impact your business?
  6. What is the level of risk associated with the buyer compared to your other clients?
  7. Are you confident that the buyer will continue to purchase your products or services?

Complexity of the relationship

If your organization is consistently changing specifications, demands, timelines, and priorities it can make things difficult for the supplier. A high score in this area indicates that you are respectful of your vendors processes and time.

To assess whether you are making it difficult for your supplier to deliver on your requirements, ask the following questions:

  1. Does the buyer give you plenty of notice when they request changes to the products and services you provide or amendments to the contract?
  2. Has the buyer implemented effective processes that reduce the number of change requests made?
  3. Does the buyer attempt to reduce the regularity and complexity of requests made?

Buyer-supplier responsibilities

It’s important that both the buyer and supplier understand which deliverables they are accountable for and takes ownership of these key responsibilities. A high score in this area indicates that you are meeting requirements as stated in the contract.

Is everyone on the same page? Ask these questions to find out:

  1. Does the buyer work with you to determine key responsibilities as per the contract?
  2. What could the buyer do better to improve your relationship and better meet their objectives? 
  3. Does the buyer pay as per the contract terms and quickly resolve any payment issues? 
  4. Does the buyer respond quickly and appropriately to and issues that arise?

Additional Resources

The Sourcing Hero podcast recently chatted with Sam Singer and Jay Anderson from Rapid Packaging. In Episode 35, the two discuss the importance of using supplier experience management to improve their suppliers’ satisfaction levels.

Need help setting up a Voice of Supplier survey or navigating your supplier relationships? Una can help. Reach out to our team of Sourcing Advisors to learn more.

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