Rethinking OEM customer satisfaction surveys for electronics manufacturing services (EMS)

By Staff

EMS providers say they want to improve the OEM customer experience. To manage perceptions, EMS providers ask OEM customers for feedback with satisfaction surveys. Unfortunately, OEM respondents are carefully targeted. EMS firms will focus on OEM customers who are less likely to provide feedback that leans more negative

Traditional EMS industry customer feedback

In nearly every situation, OEMs are asked to rank from important to not important, and/or from excellent to poor, the following criteria.

Customer service, dependability: Is communications comprehensive and timely? Are problems resolved? Are quotes turned quickly, does the EMS provider have dedicated program management support…

Services offered: Does the EMS provider have a broad service offering? Considering responses should go beyond just whether or not the EMS provider offers front-end design and prototyping through to direct fulfillment.

Expertise, responsiveness: Does the EMS provider demonstrate ability that proves they can deliver Proven. Experience (history) is no indication on the EMS provider’s future performance.

Quality, technology: What sort of systems does the EMS provider have in place, including processes (how actual v measured), certifications, etc…

Pricing, value for the price: Does the EMS provider have competitive pricing options. This can include lower cost factory locations.

Proximity: This can refer to adequate proximity of EMS provider factory/locations relative to the OEM’s point of delivery, which can include FOB point of consumption in the field.

Historical dashboards lack a path forward

But the above approach is outdated and short-sighted. OEMs deserve better transparency into EMS provider functional departments and commitments for OEMs (and their EMS partners) to be able to spot problem EMS areas before they surface. Add to this, willingness from EMS providers to be held accountable to improve.

EMS provider customer service excellence and awards

Customer reviews and customer feedback has created a cottage industry. Customer feedback on Amazon, Yelp reviews, and EMS provider customer feedback and related awards can be big business for organizations. I suppose it comes down to knowing what is motivating someone to write a review or provide customer feedback.

But many people already see how easy it is for Amazon reviews and Yelp reviews to get gamed. EMS industry and EMS provider customer feedback on services and excellence is also being gamed.

Case in point, for some EMS provider awards programs in industry, EMS providers are tasked with reaching out to 10 of their customers with a questionnaire about the EMS firm’s services and overall business capabilities. The EMS provider is going to pick only their best customers, with otherwise healthy relationships, to participate and contribute feedback.

EMS providers are not motivated to solicit feedback from customers who are not satisfied with the EMS provider’s performance. Yet, this type of information, if accessible, would prove helpful to prospective, and existing, OEM customers.

EMS industry awards programs focused on customer service and satisfaction can be self-serving to EMS providers, and misleading to OEM decision makers.

One of the important pieces of information any business can know is why a customer is leaving. Understanding the reasons for customers leaving can help businesses better navigate, and make needed changes, to possibly prevent other customers from leaving.

Types of EMS provider information accessible by Venture Outsource

But in many industries, and contract electronics manufacturing is no different, there is no incentive for an OEM customer to expose truth about why they chose to leave an EMS manufacturer. The only side of of the OEM-EMS relationship that benefits from knowing this information is the EMS provider. What motivates an OEM to help an EMS manufacturer who did not execute effectively, or failed to meet contractual obligations, has a poor record of post-sale program management support, etc…

Visibility into EMS management capabilties

Armed with the understanding that typical OEM customer EMS survey ranking techniques are one-sided in EMS industry reveals the historical/dashboard nature of gauging EMS service excellence. Its only a snapshot in time that already passed.

Not only is the information input skewed in favor of the EMS provider, filters in place prevent otherwise more helpful OEM commentary and OEM customer reviews of EMS providers from seeing the light of day.

Add to this, OEMs are not given a pathway to fully understand risks of working with some EMS providers and, therefore, OEMs are less likely able to hold EMS providers accountable for weaknesses the OEM could have known about early on.

Savvy OEM decision makers are informed, able to make decisions based on more comprehensive data. OEMs also want to see any EMS red flags early, and they want input into EMS provider visibility with root cause (and effect) when challenges and weaknesses surface. This helps OEMs and OEM program, while also making it difficult for EMS providers to table sensitive topics for later discussion that often never materialize.

Search EMS manufacturing listings

In your search results you can further target other Industries and/or Services plus, you can add more geographies to your search.

In short, the OEM-EMS provider customer satisfaction survey today insulates EMS providers from identifying real issues and taking responsibility. Looking at the longer arc of the OEM-EMS relationship, OEMs who use the proper tools can help pinpoint potential problem areas in their EMS manufacturing supply chains early.

Focused feedback through unfiltered input channels

OEMs should not be coaxed into coughing up information or offering their opinions. Perhaps the OEM decision maker does not want to be truthful to the person asking for input. Or, they are uncomfortable delivering difficult information or bad news. Maybe timing is not right in their busy day, the OEM is busy thinking about other things or they simply have no interest.

But good or bad experiences, unsolicited feedback or reviews of EMS providers by OEM decision makers, given at a time convenient for OEMs, can be deemed more genuinely authentic by industry. The OEM sharing their experience working with a particular EMS provider is offering the feedback information under their own free will. And without filters.

Speaking of authentic reviews, watch the four minute video below. Somewhere, marketers for Inergy Apex are bent in fear. The same might also be said about their EMS manufacturing partner.

Meanwhile, there is a better way for OEMs to asses EMS provider capabilities, which can also help OEMs assess an EMS provider’s possible future performance while holding EMS providers more accountable.

Using our questionnaire form, OEM decision makers can formulate more insightful discussions with their EMS partners focused on outcomes that matter to OEMs. EMS providers who use this form are also better at displaying transparency to their OEM customers’ concerns, communicating the EMS provider is serious about holding EMS internal functional departments and key EMS employees assigned to OEM customer programs accountable for EMS provider performance, and overall OEM customer program success. Learn more here.

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OEM Checklist for EMS Manufacturing Quotes

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