How much visibility do you have over your warranty and servicing obligations?

Lindsay Sisson
Written by

Why tracking and recording are essential for customer service and future growth

These days, it's not enough to simply offer warranties and/or servicing on a product; the process has become much more complex than that. This is especially true if what you're selling has a number of parts with varying warranties and service guarantees. Not only do businesses need to keep track of what they're offering, but they need to adopt a proactive approach if they want to enhance their relationships with both their customers and suppliers.

Manual processes and outdated legacy systems are no longer up to the task of managing all the moving parts that come with warranties and service guarantees. To achieve total visibility across the whole area and be able to leverage data for insights into patterns and business growth, a modern digital solution is required.

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The value in tracking and recording goods

One of the main challenges facing most organisations is that of tracking and recording. For every product, there needs to be a record of when it was sold, and when the warranty will expire. If a business doesn't have this information right from the beginning, it makes proactively following-up with customers or managing when a product is returned difficult. To combat this, businesses need to be able to quickly see:

  • When a product was sold
  • What the warranty on it was at the time of sale
  • If the product had components with different warranties
  • A record of product expiry dates
  • A clear view of warranty liabilities
  • An ability to collate statistics on problematic products and components and identify why they are failing

If you're not accurately recording and tracking warranties and service guarantees, you're likely to experience problems in other areas such as service request creation, repair scheduling and delivery.

Managing warranties and service guarantees effectively means getting it right for both your business your customers. It's important to take both perspectives into account, because if the process fails at the business end, the flow-on effect can impact your customers.

Customers and businesses - a dual perspective

The business perspective
If you know the warranty status of your products and their components, you can manage when to sell it and how to manage the after sales process well. When you do sell it to a customer, you're giving them accurate information about warranty and service guarantees. You could then decide to take the approach that once it's gone, it's gone, and it's up to the customer to return it if something needs fixing.

However, if you have a system on board that lets you know when the warranty on products you've sold is about to expire, or they're due for servicing, you can take a proactive approach and contact the customer to let them know. Communication on this level is a key method of enhancing the customer experience.

Additionally, if you've purchased products with expiry dates, you need to record them at the time of purchase. These need to be tracked on a both a batch and expiry basis — chemicals and drugs are a good example. Keeping track of the stock you have on hand means you can see at a glance if the expiry date is approaching, and you'll know whether you can return it to the supplier. This means you'll increase the efficiency of the stock you have on hand, ensuring that you're not on-selling it to customers with an approaching expiry date.

The customer perspective
Customers want to know that if they return a product that’s within warranty, it will be repaired or replaced. Likewise, if the terms of sale include a service guarantee, they want to be sure that the process will go smoothly. What they don’t want is to endure a lengthy process in which your business has to hunt back through records and then take more time to make a decision about the product.

For any business that’s serious about improving their customer experience, having a system that ensures streamlined management of warranties and service guarantees is essential.

Managing all the moving parts

For businesses that manage selling and distribution of a large number of products, one of the biggest challenges they face is when they're selling products with a number of components. Take spa pools as an example. There will be different warranties on the various components, so it's essential to keep track of the expiry dates of each one. So, if a customer contacts you and complains about an issue with the pump, you need to be able to instantly access your records to determine the warranty on that pump. If it's outside the expiry date, but the remaining components are not, you can then make a decision about whether to repair or replace the pump.

What we've often found is that businesses that aren't effectively recording and tracking warranties will, when contacted by a customer with a problem, decide to be pragmatic and simply repair or replace the product without determining if it was outside its warranty. They do this to ensure customer satisfaction, but it comes at a cost in both time and money to the business.

However, if the warranty status of a product is clear to the customer at the time of sale, and the business has the records to prove it, they can avoid these costs without damaging their reputation.

The importance of good communication in a world driven by social media

Word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways customers can damage or enhance a business's reputation. Social media and online reviews provide customers with platforms to tell the world what kind of experience they had with a business — and more than any kind of advertising or marketing, other people will take those reviews on board.

Customer communication is something that many organisations need to improve on. Being able to keep a dialogue open throughout the sales process and beyond is key to enhancing customer satisfaction. You need to provide your customers with up-to-date, correct information about when their warranties and service guarantees will expire, and be proactive about sending service reminders. The more transparent a business is with their customers, the more those customers will appreciate them.

The most effective way to achieve this kind of communication is by harnessing the kind of technology that provides instant access to warranty and servicing information — and that's the path to continuing favourable reviews and social media commentary.

ERP strategies that make the difference

If many of the above challenges sound familiar to you, it's time to rethink your strategies for managing warranties and service guarantees. Manual processes are time consuming and prone to error. Spreadsheets are outdated. You need to be on the digital transformation journey.

An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that's been specifically configured for the needs of your business will enable you to update your strategies for managing warranties and service guarantees.

Tracking and recording
This is the foundation of efficient and effective management. With the right ERP system on board, you'll be able to track products owned by you or your customers for preventative maintenance scheduling and service order management. You can also track warranty classes by models of equipment to prevent needless customer invoicing parts and labour when the work is covered under warranty.

An ERP will provide reminders to follow up with your customers and check that they're still happy with it. You can set these periodically - for example, you might want to check in with them after a month, then after six months. You can record their feedback and use it for improving customer service.

You'll be able to take a proactive approach with them and let them know if what they've bought is due for a free servicing under the purchase agreement, or if a warranty is about to expire.

Improve the efficiency of your inventory
ERP systems will track a product or components of a product throughout their lifecycle. So when you access their information, you'll see:

  • When it was manufactured
  • What the warranty status was then
  • What the warranty status was when you purchased it
  • How long it's been in your inventory
  • If the warranty is about to expire

Having this information at your fingertips means you can keep your inventory up-to-date, without on-selling products that have expired, or are about to. You can set alerts for each one, so that you don't have to keep trawling through the entire inventory; you'll simply be alerted by the system when stock or products are about to expire.

Leveraging data to spot patterns and glean insights
With the right ERP system on board, you'll have access to the kind of information that boosts intelligence. Continually recording and tracking generates data and statistics that can be analysed in order to spot problems. When one of our customers analysed their collated statistics, they determined that a certain component on one of their products was failing while still under warranty. When they spotted this pattern, they undertook an investigation and discovered that there had been a change in manufacturer who were using poorer quality materials. They were then able to start a discussion with the manufacturer, explaining in detail the warranty claims they were dealing with as a result of their failing component.

How we can help

When we partner up with a business for ERP implementation and support, one important task is to determine the pain points around warranty and service guarantee management. We use our extensive discovery experience to establish the best way an individual business can keep track of warranties and servicing agreements, and enhance the relationship they have with their customers and suppliers.

We work with the business to determine which ERP system will be the best fit for them, based on their requirements and business objectives. We offer on-going support, tailoring the system as needed. In this way, we not only help a business manage their warranties and service agreements more efficiently, but we help them to build the kind of on-going, positive customer relationships that are so critical to successful business growth.

Endeavour has extensive experience in helping numerous businesses effectively implement systems for warranty and service management. We have over 30 years’ experience in delivering successful ERP projects and would love to help. If you'd like to learn more about streamlining your warranty and service guarantee processes, let's talk.



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