Do You Need an RMA Program?

An RMA program (Return Material Authorization) is a process that is used to return a product to the manufacturer. RMA programs protect brand image and customer satisfaction through a variety of services. Typically, RMAs are used for warranty and out of warranty (OOW) repairs; however, other services include Advance Unit Replacement (AUR) and inventory management.

In a customer-centered industry, manufacturers have transitioned to domestic service centers native to their markets. The result is a more responsive customer service program and a better brand image. The biggest challenge that presents itself in defining the RMA process is the consideration of an in-house to the outsourced point-of-sale, POS, repair program.

In-house programs provide complete control, at the cost of roll-out expenses and growing pains that come with new ventures. Outsourcing warranty and OOW service are a modern trend where manufacturers seek domestic service partners that specialize in RMA processing.

The benefit of low initial/overhead costs come at the expense of product control. Factors such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, product management flow, and progress reporting are critical influences on the success of an outsourced RMA program.

If you have a warranty or OOW program chances are you operate an RMA program of some kind. One method of determining if additional resources are needed is analyzing the inbound volume and turnaround times. When repairs on inbound RMAs take longer than four days, identify if supplemental staff or third party assistance is necessary for a quicker turnaround.

If the amount of resources required to achieve the desired turnaround time exceeds the personnel and facility capabilities, this is a good indicator that the manufacturer requires a third party service center specialized in your industry.

A standard value-add for “white-glove” clients is an AUR program, which consists of maintaining a spare pool of available inventory to ship in place of returned defective product. The ability to ship replacements on demand bypasses turnaround times and fills the customer’s need immediately. The customer selects standard or next day options, assuring complete control and satisfaction throughout the process.

Inventory management is a necessity with any RMA program. The ability to repair and return the product rests on a reliable list of the most commonly used parts. Parts are delivered on a purchase order and shipped via RMA to end-users or third party centers. Analyzing parts consumed reports assists with forecasting and part orders. Hopefully, the ERP you’re using can collect and support the data needed.

Similar to the AUR program, inventory management requires an in-house tracking system that records inventory movements and requests. If this operating system is outside of your network’s capabilities, consult a third party service to manage the AUR and inventory programs.

Providing an RMA service to repair your product improves end-user satisfaction and brand image. Contact us for more information on starting your RMA service.

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