#SCM#reverse supply chain

Five tips for a competitive service supply chain

Follow @SamJermy and @SupplyChainD on Twitter. For many organisations the perception of the reverse service supply chains primary role has shifted fr...

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|Aug 4|magazine12 min read

Follow @SamJermy and @SupplyChainD on Twitter.

 

For many organisations the perception of the reverse service supply chain’s primary role has shifted from a functional necessity to one which is increasingly being recognised as an essential tool for competitive differentiation and a key part of customer satisfaction. One place this is particularly relevant is in the  electronics sector, where products often have long working lives and uptime is critical to end-customer happiness and retention.

But just how do businesses ensure that their service supply chains are hitting tight turnaround times and maintaining product reliability to really maximize on the opportunities available? At Teleplan we believe there are five key things which help organizations achieve a competitive service supply chain.

 

Keeping devices out of the supply chain

When considering customer satisfaction, often the best kind of service is one that doesn’t need to take place to begin with. Consumers, particularly millennials, increasingly expect to be able to resolve technical issues with their electronic devices themselves.

Here, businesses need to ensure that they have best practice guidelines, or live technical support services available. The convenience of these self-help portals mean individuals can try to find a fault and find early resolution in many cases. Our own experience shows us that over 30% of smartphone related queries can be resolved within minutes through live technical support, preventing unnecessary returns and reducing no fault found (NFF) rates by a factor of four. In fact, this service can help increase customer satisfaction rates to more than 85%. So in short, everyone is happy!

 

Convenient, simple and transparent process

Where physical returns are deemed necessary, the simplicity and convenience of the process is crucial. Consumers are demanding a process that fits to their lifestyle and schedule. No longer can we rely on a one-size fits all approach to returns. Gone are the days when it was enough to ask consumers to drop off and pick up items at a central depot. Nor will consumers expect to stand in line and wait. Manufacturers must have access to strong logistics partner networks to service consumers in a place, and at a time that suits them.

 

Moreover, when dealing with electronic goods that users rely on so heavily, such as smartphones and connected devices, enabling visibility of the device’s progress through the repair cycle is an essential supply chain consideration. Providing updates on the estimated time of return is critical in order to give users the reassurance that they are being properly looked after.

 

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 your customers getting back a misdiagnosed faulty product. This is particularly important when sales of smartphones to end users totaled 1.2 billion units in 2014, from our own experience we estimate 150 million smartphones are now being returned for service and repair every year across the globe. Fully automated  testing capability can reduce the testing and diagnosis time by up to five minutes per device, a significant saving to be able to pass on to customers.

 

Efficient repair

Once a fault has been identified, an efficient, high quality repair is essential.  From software related issues to highly technical board and “cleanroom” repairs, manufacturers need to be sure that their devices are being restored to a usable state by subject matter experts.

 

Not only do repairs require specialists, but they should be carried out in accordance with the defined functional repair standards of manufacturers, in order to ensure brand reputation is maintained. It is imperative to deliver them back a device that is up to brand standard.

 

Return to sender

The final stage of the supply chain process is often the least considered. It mustn’t be forgotten that it matters how a customer receives their product once it has been repaired. For example, does one return the product packaged as new, or return it in the packaging it arrived in to demonstrate environmental responsibility? By focusing on returns as an important part of the service supply chain solution, manufacturers can really benefit from a simple, but important differentiator.

The service supply chain is increasingly dealing with products that consumers rely on for their daily lives and as a result, having a process that works quickly, efficiently and with visibility can make the crucial differentiator between you and your competitors. It’s time businesses embraced the opportunities at hand, to streamline logistics, save time to meet tight turnaround times and deliver ultimate customer satisfaction. All of this can be achieved by working with a partner who can deliver and control all aspects of the service supply chain enabling you to unlock more value.

 

By Sven Boddington Vice President Global Marketing & Client Solutions at Teleplan International.