Five tips: Building a competitive reverse service supply chain

The reverse service supply chain can be a key business differentiator and contribute to enhanced customer satisfaction in an increasingly competitive market.

At Teleplan we believe there are five key elements that can help organisations maximise on the opportunities available.

1. Try to keep devices out of the supply chain at first. Customers increasingly expect to resolve technical issues on their electronic devices themselves. Businesses should therefore ensure they provide self-help portals or best practice guidelines so individuals can find and rectify faults themselves, if possible. From our experience this can help increase customer satisfaction rates to more than 85 per cent.

2. A convenient, simple and transparent process. If physical returns are necessary it is crucial the process is simple and convenient. Manufacturers must have access to a strong logistics partner network to service consumers at a time and place that suits them, as they demand a returns process that fits into their lifestyle. Visibility of a device’s progress through the repair cycle also adds value to the customer experience, especially when dealing with electronic goods that consumers rely on in their daily lives.

3. Fast screening and diagnostics. A quick and accurate diagnostic process not only improves the overall efficiency of the service supply chain, it also reduces the likelihood of misdiagnosing a faulty product. Working with partners that have fully automated testing capabilities can reduce the testing time by up to five minutes per device, which in the case of smartphones adds up to a significant saving to pass on to customers ‒ an estimated 150 million units are now returned for service and repair globally every year.

4. Efficient repairs. Once a fault has been identified, the next step is to provide an efficient, high quality repair that is up to a brand's standard. From software related issues to highly technical board and ‘cleanroom’ repairs, manufacturers need to be sure that its devices are restored to a usable state by subject matter specialists in accordance with defined practices.

5. Return to sender. The packaging can be just as important as the repair itself. Returning a product in the packaging it arrived in can demonstrate environmental care and be just as important as the repair itself in contributing to overall customer satisfaction levels.

It’s time businesses embrace the opportunities at hand and offer product-enhancing services that will in turn increase customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. All this can be achieved by working with a partner who can deliver and control every aspect of the service supply chain smartly and efficiently.

Sven Boddington is vice president global marketing and client solutions at Teleplan International

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