1. How much do warranty claims cost us? (See “True Cost…”)
While this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s amazing how many manufacturers we talk to that don’t have a clear idea of the financial cost of their warranty services. Sure, they have an idea of how much – often as an estimated percentage of revenue – but without a true understanding of the cost of your warranty claims, you cannot effectively take steps to reduce those costs.
2. How long does it take us to resolve a claim?
The longer a claim takes to resolve, the more it costs the company. Having a benchmark for days to complete and measuring results toward that goal can help to reduce overall costs. By monitoring resolution time, and making adjustments when trends uncover reasons for delays, you can save money and improve customer service.
3. What is causing our issues? (See “True Cost…”)
It’s easy to get so bogged down in taking care of claim after claim that you don’t seem to have time to analyze the metrics and trends of all of the claims that your company works. Visibility into the causes of your claims (defect codes, production location,, etc.) allows you to address the underlying causes, reducing the volume of claims and the cost to your company.
4. How are we doing this year compared to last year?
Sometimes your software solution can do a good enough job of helping you manage your current claims, acting as a to-do list. While this tends to lead to reactive service (the last one who called is the next fire to put out) it does not provide a simple way to monitor trends over time. Most companies are just focused on working claims but they don’t have the right tools to know how they’re doing at reducing the claims over time. As a company, the goal should be to improve customer service, and this can only be accomplished by monitoring metrics.
5. What do our customers say about us after we resolve a claim? (This is a big one!)
Warranty claims are all about customer service. While minimizing the impact on operations by reducing the number and cost of claims should be a priority, providing exceptional customer service should be your top priority. And the only way to ensure that you are is to know what those customers say about your company’s service after the issue has been resolved. While there are a number ways to accomplish this, automatically sending a survey as soon as a claim is completed will greatly increase the response rate by your customers, giving you more insight into how well your company is doing in its goal to provide exceptional customer service.
When we buy a new car or truck, there are certain things we look for. Most of us have specific items that we consider “must haves.” For some, it’s 4 wheel drive, or a sunroof, or 3 rows of seats. For others, it’s navigation, or a luggage rack, or leather seats. We seem to take comforts such as air conditioning or conveniences such as power windows and doors for granted these days. It would seem silly to ask the car salesman “Does it come with air conditioning?” while we’re test driving, wouldn’t it? And nowadays so many features on a car are sold as packages – in order to get what you want you have to pay for a whole bunch of features that aren’t really that important to you. We’ve had leather seats in both of the mini-vans we’ve driven, because they came with the package we wanted. Leather seats, with small children?
Decisions about software, in some ways, can be like buying a car. We enter the conversation with an idea of what we want, hopefully based on what we actually need. And then we are presented with a software package that seems to be what we want, but is often not what we need. We get a lot of features that we like, some even bring some benefit to our operations. But after a while, we begin to realize that we are still lacking the core functionality that we were looking for.
For example, CRM’s are known for being very broad in their functionality but not very deep in any specific area outside of managing a sales process. So many times we implement a CRM because it’s a database that seems to track most of the information we need. And then we realize it doesn’t have the functionality to manage our workflow. And so we either abandon it completely, or we spend a lot of money customizing it to get closer to what we need, or we use it for the things it’s best at and use the way-we-used-to-do-it for our specialized needs. Because of the cost, the effort, and the resources necessary to implement most CRM’s, especially if any customization was necessary, it often seems impossible or even irresponsible to consider replacing the CRM with that better matches your needs.
Can you afford to not have the right technology to manage your business?
The Power of Being Proactive
“It’s 10% what happens and 90% how you handle it.” We hear this a lot when it comes to customer service, especially when it’s about warranty claims. While customers react to product issues in various ways – some simply wanting the problem to be fixed, some upset but willing to acknowledge that “things happen,” and some so angry that it seems nothing will make them happy – most would agree that how the issue is handled determines how they feel about it once it’s resolved.
Communication is the key to good customer service. Regardless of how long it takes to resolve an issue, if the process is clear to the customer and they are kept updated on the progress toward completion, they will be satisfied with the result. When things fall through the cracks, when steps are missed or drag on without the customer being notified, the situation often escalates.
While technology cannot (and should not) take the place of human interaction, it can (and should) make sure that nothing falls through the cracks. Software engineered around a defined process should have timers and alerts designed to remind customer service agents when things are about to hit their deadline. By making sure that things are happening as promised, and communicating any delays along the way, the customer feels informed. And, contrary to popular belief, customers aren’t looking for perfection they’re looking for progress.
So make sure your software is built around your processes and it will do half the work for you. When it’s clear what needs to be done next – when you can be proactive instead of reactive – it becomes easy to deliver outstanding customer service. And when we deliver outstanding customer service, we create raving fans that not only come back to us in the future, they tell their friends about us.
Collecting information in the field seems easy: you write down everything and then go back to the office to hand in your paperwork. Someone in the office then deciphers your notes and usually retypes everything into some type of software application. If you’re lucky, you didn’t miss anything but many times you have to call the customer back or even make a second trip to get the missing details.
Technology has introduced new methods of collecting job site information. Unfortunately most of these solutions are nothing more than a static digital form – you don’t have to decipher handwriting but you’re still missing valuable information.
The only real way to collect all of the information you need is to use a logic-based form approach. Consider these 4 “must have’s” when looking for your next mobile solution:
- Optional Questions: In some cases you’ll want to include optional questions but only prompt the user to answer them if they apply to the situation. For this reason, optional questions are good and cause the field person to think, to make sure they get all the information the first time.
- Required Fields: Required fields can’t be skipped – they are critical for collecting consistent and complete information in the field. And required fields are a “must” for concise, accurate reporting.
- Branch Logic: This isn’t simply “If you answer “A” then ask question 2 or if you answer “B” skip question 2. Logic should be built in a way that, depending on your answer, you get one or more different questions which could be a completely different path or simply one or two “extra” questions. Branch Logic can be complicated to build but it should flow seamlessly for the user.
- Repeating a Form: You must have the ability to repeat a form without asking redundant questions. For example, you show up at a job site and are required to take a photo of the area, input a contact person’s name or the time you arrived but you shouldn’t have to answer those questions each time you fill out the form while on the same jobsite.
When considering a mobile solution for your field service team, don’t settle for digital forms that simply replace handwriting with typing. Opt instead for a logic-based approach that gives you all of the information you need every time. Your team will be more efficient, you’ll save valuable time, and your reports will accurate. And all of that means better customer service and lower cost of service.
You have some degree of knowledge about your warranty business and you’ve identified at least some of the knowledge you’re missing. To gain that missing knowledge, you take the information you know and piece together some of that missing information or inferences of that missing information, by massaging your data using tools like spreadsheets. Once you slice and dice your information into something actionable, you may have increased your knowledge but how much energy have you exerted in obtaining this new knowledge and addressing it with your team? How much energy will your team exert in understanding, applying and now taking action on this new knowledge?
What if you and your team had all the necessary information about your jobs readily available from the onset regarding your customers, warranty cases, service orders, product issues, etc.?
What if during the course of working a warranty case, a process and structure was in place to seamlessly capture all necessary information as a matter of course?
What if actionable information about your roles came to you instead of you having to look for it?
What if that information included things you hadn’t thought of that would positively affect your role and company/team operations?
When searching for a new or improved warranty management software solution, consider what information is being recorded and how that information is captured, presented, displayed and shared. Your software should provide benefits such as:
- Never forgetting an open/active warranty case
- Automatically communicating with customers as their warranty case progresses
- Distributing product and claim information to Production, Sales and other departments
- Understanding Claim Cost, Product Issues, Service and Performance trends to proactively create solutions
- An intuitive mobile application for service technicians
- Automatically receiving customer feedback on your company and products, retailers, and service efforts when jobs are completed
- Improving company reputation by increasing the level of service, productivity and product quality
The ideal software solution should provide a structure for reinforcing a repeatable experience for both your customers and your team. With the right solution, you and your team could regularly operate in a proactive manner, building on your existing energy and confidence.
Picture a group of surgeons standing over a patient in the operating room about to perform a procedure. Now picture those surgeons blindfolded. Not how you’d want them operating on you, right? So why would you blindfold your leadership team when it comes to warranty claims management?
“What do warranty claims and post sales service cost you?” Can you answer this question? Most manufacturers cannot.
Imagine if you had the ability to easily view and track your cost of warranty claims, including parts, labor, and credits at the touch of a button. Knowing where your costs are really coming from can help prioritize your attention.
“What is driving your warranty and post sales service?” Again, if you’re like most manufacturers, you don’t have the tools to accurately or completely answer this question.
Imagine if you had the ability to easily view the reason for every claim in your system at the click of a mouse. The ability to see this information in real time for any time period you select would provide the insight you need to focus on the areas that generate the largest call volume and the most number of claims. And tackling the root of the issue ultimately reduces or even eliminates the costs.
When you connect the dots between what’s driving the calls and what you are spending to handle the claims, you have the power to effectively address real and repetitive issues in production and in the field. They aren’t just costing you financially – they’re also costing you your reputation, time, and customers.