RMA Management – As a manufacturer, you are continually designing and producing innovative products of the highest possible quality. You devote a lot of attention and spend significant time optimizing the manufacturing process. Also, you have put in place clear procedures for quality control. Nevertheless, for reasons that may differ from customer to customer, products are sometimes returned. Whatever the reason, fact is that companies need to handle this process of Return Materials Authorization Management(RMA management) as effective as possible.
Here are 8 suggestions for improving your process management.
1. Establish procedures
Usually, more than one department is involved in RMA. First of all, there’s the customer service department that needs to find out why a product is returned. If the product is faulty, departments like quality control and engineering will want to understand the reason. In the meantime, logistics takes care of sending a replacement, should the customer want one. If not, accounting will make sure the customer gets his or her money back. To allow all these divisions to work together, clear and unambiguous procedures need to be implemented.
2. Appoint dedicated employees who ‘own’ the process
No matter the quality, some of the products that your company produces will be returned. That is why manufacturing companies cannot do without dedicated service representatives. RMA entails more than just receiving the product and returning the money to a customer. You need to take shipping costs into consideration, find out why the product is returned and identify patterns. Dedicated staff or departments (depending on the size of the company and the number of returns) taking ownership this process is key.
3. Keep returned goods separated.
Allow engineering a chance to review returned goods and issue a diagnosis. This not only allows them to identify trends in quality issues, it also provides an opportunity to repair the product. In any case, there will be parts that can be recycled, reused, or repaired.
4. Identify trends in quality issues
Quality issues might be incidental, but it could also be that the same faults occur in across your products. That is why it is crucial to log quality issues in a highly detailed manner. It allows your engineers to find out if the same fault in different products is caused. Is it a mistake in the production process and if yes, solve it – preventing more products from being returned.
5. Make returning products easy and convenient
Keep communication with customers as clear as possible. Create a standardised return process, which is easy to understand and carry out. So why not, for example, use the original buying transaction number, or an extension, as a reference for their returns? This allows you to keep oversight and is also good for your image as a trustworthy manufacturer who has its ducks in a row.
6. Differentiate reasons for returning
Not all products are returned because there are issues with quality. Customer expectations are sometimes too high, or clients might simply be misinformed about what a product can and cannot do. So, if you also allow your customers to return products that are not faulty, you should separate these returns from products that are sent back because of quality issues. If too many products are returned because of wrong expectations, perhaps there’s work to do for your communications department.
7. Automate and control the process
Field returns facilitation, the refurbishment process, field quality monitoring and asset recovery processing … all can be automated. Using the right software, you will be able to capture and monitor data from field services. This then allows you to increase customer satisfaction, improve performance, lower stock levels, improve supplier quality, and product performance whilst reducing service costs.
8. Manage Partners / Departments
In some cases, managing the performance of a department or a partner is required. Productivity, Quality
Performance, Cycle-time, Test Effectiveness are just some of the metrics you can use to monitor your internal, and external teams.