Managing prompt replacement service

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Product replacement strategy of a company is an important focus in retaining a customer. On time replacement of products and speedy after sales services are important initiatives.

By Jesus Milton Rousseau S

Wednesday, December 16, 2009: Channel partners play a vital role in shouldering this responsibility. Distributors continuously work towards meeting this need of the customers and deliver within their promised time. Unfortunately, many companies fail to meet this requirement or do a quick fix job to address the problem. As Dinesh Singh Samyal, CEO, LWI Electronics, puts it, “On time replacement of products is one of our primary objectives. We make conscious effort to satisfy our customers.”

During their noble endeavours to meet deadlines and targets, there are chances of the products being damaged fully or partially. There are also times when the products delivered to the channel partners by the principal companies may be in a ‘dead on arrival’ (DoA) condition. So how do channel partners deal with such damaged products? How do they tackle the situation when a repaired or damaged product reaches a customer? Channel partners and their principal companies have replacement policies to overcome such intriguing situations and try to maintain an esteemed image in the sight of their customers.

“Definitely, replacement of damaged products and within a time limit enhances our company’s image in the eyes of the customers. It helps in making the bond stronger and strengthening the faith and trust between us. This not only helps in bringing more business but also increases the goodwill of the company,” says SK Jain, CEO and managing director, Sumitron Exports. “Still if due to some unavoidable circumstances the product does get damaged during transit, we successfully replace it,” he adds.

Tackling complaints

Channel partners have dedicated after sales or customer support teams to deal with such situations quickly and efficiently. The product is scrutinised to see whether it is a genuine defect and covered with in the warranty period. Generally, the products are replaced immediately, free of cost. “We deal with complaints from customers on priority basis. We get the damaged product replaced or freely serviced as per the terms and conditions previously agreed upon,” says Jain.

Samyal adds,“We offer warranty to the customers and replacements are provided immediately. Usually one year warranty comes from the manufacturers. Moreover, we have dedicated customer service support team at LWI.”

TV Deshikan, director, Omniscient Electronics, agrees, “If the products are under warranty, we help customers in getting the replaced products. Also, we do detailed analysis of field failure and provide report to customer to know the reason of failure.”

Arrow operates in a different fashion. Samson Sudhir, marketing manager, Arrow Electronics India, says, “Our products are delivered from Singapore office and our responsibility ceases once it is handed over to the customer’s freight forwarder. We follow set procedures to make sure the packaging is airworthy and seaworthy depending on the mode of shipment. We expect the customer to have insurance cover during the transit from Singapore to their premises as we are not liable for the damages due to bad handling by the customer’s freight forwarder/clearing agent.”

Some manufacturers and distributors offer extended warranty, which is also doing good business. Some experienced consumers, however, warn that it might not be worth the added cost.

Time frame for replacement

Replacement of product is done quickly and swiftly when the damaged product is under warranty period. Says Samyal, “Our time frame for replacement is as soon as possible. Also, the replacement time is based on the availability of product.” Jain cites, “The Time duration for replacement varies from product to product. If the product is available in stock then the damaged product is replaced within three to four working days. Otherwise, it takes around four to five weeks.”

Deshikan adds, “We provide immediate replacement if the damaged parts are in stock. The customer has to fill return material authorisation (RMA) form with the test report and the reason for failure of the part. We then collect the parts from customer and send it for detailed analysis at the manufacturer’s facility.”

Sudhir adds, “Generally, no damage is caused due to transit but sometimes it is due to the quality of the product. The product is then sent to the principal company which does a failure analysis report and if the product is confirmed ‘not working’ then it is replaced through RMA procedure. If any damage caused during transit to the customer premises, the customer’s freight forwarder will be responsible. However, we will process a separate order to meet the customer’s immediate requirements at his cost so that his production plans are not hampered.”

Cost factor

Who bears the cost of replacement of products? Jain says, “If the product is under warranty period then the loss is borne both by us and our principal.” Adds Samyal, “LWI proceeds with any deal cautiously only with those suppliers who offer back to back warranty. Low margins are acceptable but low on quality check is not compromised.” Deshikan further adds, “Sometimes the principals bear the loss, that is, if the product is under warranty, or else we share the cost of the damage.”

“If the product is damaged during transit from the customer’s freight forwarder to the customers premises, the loss has to be covered by the customer through an appropriate insurance cover,” says Sudhir.

Prevention is better

Rejection or damage of products can be prevented by proper packaging and quality check of products. Samyal says, “At LWI we put all our efforts and emphasis on quality check to ensure that if at all any rejection happens, it should happen only during inward inspection at LWI and not at the customer’s premises.”

Regarding packaging, Jain says, “We usually do not get many complaints regarding damaged products as we take outmost care during packaging. Selecting the right packaging style is important, for example, thickness of carton is more when the product is heavy, wooden pallets are used in packaging for shipment; but for air freight nothing extra is needed.”

“Our products are packed cautiously and there is very little chance of the product getting damaged during transit,” says Sudhir. “Choose your friend, employees and suppliers carefully. All your future problems will automatically be reduced.” concludes Samyal.

Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No.1 Electronics B2B magazine

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