How effective are your current Reverse Logistics Strategies? Find out by asking your CEO, CFO, VP of Sales, Heads of Design, Engineering, Packaging, Manual Design, Operations, and Call Center these two fundamental questions:
1) Who manages our Returns Reduction Program as part of your overall reverse logistics strategies? Who is the single person inside our company responsible for following and working on reducing our product returns from the design stage all the way through to return liquidation?
2) When one of our end customers takes one of our products home and has a “perceived” problem, what is the first thing we want that customer to do? What practices have we put into place that ensure this action will actually happen?
If you discover inconsistencies in the answers you receive (or perhaps an inability to get sufficient answers along with supporting data), then read on. The potential for increasing profits via reverse logistics is significant and attainable.
Originally published in Twice Magazine
You approach the service counter of a typical retailer, any retailer, armed only with a defective product and the extended service you purchased on it. You recall back one year ago when you purchased the product. The sales associate spun a glowing tale of being able to take care of you and your product for an additional three years beyond the manufacturer’s warranty. You were skeptical as it was explained to you about all the time, money and headaches that you would avoid if you bought their service contract. By the time they were done you were sold. You wanted the plan, you needed that plan. It was pricey, but the peace of mind it provided was well worth the investment. Besides, the sales associate was just so darn sincere.
Fast-forward one year. As you make the long walk to the customer service counter, it starts to resemble a scene right out of a Clint Eastwood western. You receive a steely look from the person working behind the customer service counter. You imagine yourself in the center of town on a lonely, empty street while tumbleweeds roll by.
Originally published in Twice Magazine
Most dealers view the customer with a return as a "problem customer" and not a "customer with a problem." Any product purchased by a consumer and returned (for any reason) costs everyone involved, including the customer, time and money —a lot of money. Effective returns management benefits consumers, retailers, and manufacturers alike.
The problem lies not only in that it costs a lot to process returned products, but in the fact that the product was returned at all. It's been proven that the vast majority of all returns have absolutely nothing technically wrong with them. So why are they returned?
Retailers and manufacturers are jointly responsible for the consumer experience regarding the products they offer, yet rarely do they effectively work together to address the solutions to the consumers' problems that are causing returns.
The goal of improved returns management should be to develop a strategy to reduce returns that addresses:
Here are a few suggestions on how to keep the consumer happy and the product sold:
Ask these questions:
Are instructions written at or below a sixth-grade level?
Does your Web site guide the consumer with a problem to easily find the solution?
Are the FAQs updated to reflect the changes in consumer questions throughout the life cycle of the product?
Create and implement training with retailers for sales and service/return counter associates. Training must include not only the features and benefits of the product but also issues the average consumer may experience in learning how to operate the device. Utilize the consumer information obtained by the call center and Web site to update returns management training on an ongoing basis.
We all know that most products are returned because "they didn't perform as expected." There was a breakdown somewhere along the product development and sales life cycle. Effective returns management ensures that it happens less often in the future than it has in the past. This will only occur through better cooperation and communication of the issues between retailers and manufacturers.