Most manufacturers consider their warranty service department to be nothing more than a drain on their resources and revenue – it is a cost of goods sold, afterall. Call it a step child or necessary evil, but investing in warranty services hasn’t exactly been at the top of the priority list for most executives.
The process of managing warranty claims is viewed as a manually intensive administrative task that’s not exactly the most productive or efficient. However, more and more manufacturers are recognizing the opportunity and potential to reduce costs and improve the customer experience.
With the tools and technology available at your fingertips, companies are jumping at the chance to make their warranty service department considerably more effective and efficient. A recent study shows the most common reasons executives would consider investing in their warranty services department:
It goes without saying that executives would consider investing in their warranty services department in order to improve customer satisfaction and product quality, but cutting costs and increasing revenue are often overlooked benefits. If you can add to your bottom-line, shouldn’t the process of implementing a warranty claims management software be a no-brainer?
So now that executives are more likely to listen when the service manager or others ask them to invest in improving the warranty service operations, let’s talk about some of the biggest challenges we face in managing those warranty claims. At the end of the day, it’s all about customer service, right? Right…but it doesn’t end there.
Even if you have a software solution that is “working” for you, the reality is that you still face many of the challenges outlined below. Having a solution in place doesn’t necessarily always mean it’s the right choice.
Duplicate Data Entry
In today’s technology-driven society, where there’s robots and self-driving cars, why are you still entering the same data and information in three or four different places? Eliminating the amount of data entry is one of the top challenges in managing warranty claims efficiently. Pace Productivity estimates that more time is spent on administrative tasks than any other area – aka updating customer information.
The right warranty claim management software is designed to avoid the redundancy of capturing information multiple times. InsightPro auto-populates information that’s entered the first time in each area of the application associated with that claim.
Claims Falling Through the Cracks
When it comes to warranty service, most people think of the challenges to delivering good customer service to be the biggest challenges. And, historically, those HAVE definitely been some of the biggest challenges.
And those are the challenges that tend to cause the most pain when handling warranty claims. An upset customer becomes an irate customer if they don’t think their warranty claim is being handled correctly…or quickly…or professionally. Communication is key. Making sure nothing falls through the cracks is critical to making sure communication happens.
Eliminating Recurring Issues
Some of the other challenges (opportunities) are internal. How do you keep track of all of the issues that your customers are having and report on recurring issues? By identifying those recurring issues, and communicating them to the production team, you can make adjustments to minimize those same issues in the future. Money saved.
Improving Productivity & Efficiency
How do the field technicians stay efficient and consistent? And how do they get the information they gather at the customer site back to the office quickly and accurately. A mobile app can solve this issue. With custom forms designed to walk a field tech through the process ensures efficiency and consistency.
Because InsightPro is updated in real-time, employees working in the office can access the information they need with just the click of a button. Utilizing real-time information, the customer service agent can follow up to ensure the customer is satisfied, preventing field techs from spending several hours at the end of each day filling out forms and faxing paperwork back to the office.
Why does it take so long to get the report you need…when you need it? Data is meaningless if it cannot be compiled into relevant reports that quickly guide the user to the story behind the data. Decisions today should be made with data to back them up. And data cannot be used to support decisions if it’s just sitting in a spreadsheet or database not being viewed.
Your Current Solution May Not Be the Right Solution
A lot of software, whether they’re CRM’s or ERP’s, sell themselves as an “all-inclusive” solution. But once you implement and start actually it to complete tasks and manage business, it quickly becomes apparent that they can do a lot but not a lot well. They are very wide in the number of areas they cover, but not very deep in any single area.
For example, CRM’s tend to be great solutions for storing sales leads and tracking movement along a sales process. But when it comes to managing projects, where processes can be different from industry to industry and even company to company, CRM’s don’t always get the job done. And if they do, it requires a significant amount of changes to processes and “workarounds.”
In today’s world of technology solutions driving the success of a business, shouldn’t you have the right solution for every part of your business?
The Right Solution is the One Designed For Your Business
The right solution is the one specifically designed for your business processes. When it comes to warranty claims management, while delivering excellent customer service and keeping costs low can be a challenge, the process itself is pretty straight forward.
- Gather information about the customer and their product.
- Verify that the warranty claim is valid
- Determine if new parts are necessary and, if so, order parts
- Determine if service is required and, if so, schedule a service technician
- Review the information from the service visit
- Follow up with customer to make sure issue is resolved
- Close the case
While the process doesn’t always follow the path perfectly (e.g., if the wrong part is shipped or if a second trip is required by the service tech) it is consistent overall.
Unfortunately, large out-of-the-box software solutions tend to be built around generic processes that assume much of the management of the process will be done manually, or will occur as the result of the user “making sure it happens.” This is how the big software can sell to companies of all sizes and industries
This type of manual process management is exactly why you need software in the first place. Software is supposed to take the “manual” of of the process as much as possible. When it comes to customer service, the most important thing is to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
Software should do this by design, keeping up with the where a claim is in the process, knowing who has the ball at any given time, and knowing what the next step should be and when it should happen. And then software should alert the user before a step becomes overdue and guide the user to complete the step and move the claim along to the next step.
Besides automating the process and providing timer-based alerts, software should also be a tool for the user where they work. In the ever-increasing mobile world in which we live, having the right mobile tool is as essential as having the right screwdriver or the right wrench. Many companies rely on paper forms or, at best, fillable PDF’s to gather information from their field service teams. Unfortunately, these “tools” don’t actually the service technician to their job. They just add work to an already busy schedule.
The best software for field service teams is a native app on their mobile device which works whether they’re online or offline. The app should help the service tech manage schedules, route to their service locations, and, most importantly, walk them through the process and capture the information the office needs as they complete their work.
In order to make the service tech more efficient and more effective, the app should have forms designed for each type of service request. Using logic-based questions and fields, the service tech can know exactly what needs to be done next based on their response to the previous question.
Nothing gets skipped and when the service tech is finished with each service call, the information can be immediately transferred back to the office – or, if offline, the information can be transferred once the device is back online.
With all of the improvements that the right software can bring to the customer service and field service teams, the data that is gathered should be used to support decisions around personnel and production. This is where the cost savings as a result of using the software can become most apparent. Reports such as cost by issue type or production location should be instantly available. These reports, combined with photos from the customer and from the field service team, can assist communication between operations and production to identify recurring issues and reduce future claims by addressing the issues quickly.
Trend reports should be monitored to show progress toward goals and identify issues before they become more costly. Many companies do not look at trends often enough because it takes so much time and effort to generate the reports. The right software will put that information at your fingertips.
The Bottom Line Benefit of the Right Software
Warranty claim management is more than just a necessary evil that companies must face. It can become an opportunity to grow business by providing excellent customer service when a customer has a claim. The way a claim is handled can not only make that customer happy with their previous purchase – it can bring that customer back the next time they purchase a similar product.
Warranty claim management, when done well, can reduce a company’s warranty expenses, directly increasing the bottom line. Having the right reports quickly and easily can make executives and managers more effective and improve decision making.