Warranty/RMA’s (Return Material Authorization). Necessary – But – Really Bad!

Sometimes we make customers mad and don't even know how bad we have treated them!

Causing and/or allowing defective material to leave your facility can and usually does require Warranty/RMA – Return material authorization.  To me RMA is the black mark of black marks when viewing total customer service and satisfaction.

I started my career in the world of customer service, dealing with Warranty/RMA – return material authorization processes.  After several years of building and working in warranty and RMA departments I found myself being very good at dealing with mad upset customers.  After many years, I have decided that returns are the worst form of customer service possible.

Customers buy with trust that the product purchased was useable, not to be returned.  A perception of a companies on-time delivery, reasonable pricing, great reliable products and great supplier company — “Can be gone or at least damaged”.

As I grew through the Warranty/RMA system, I wrote procedures, built departmental space, created budgets and hired personnel.  Years ago as is today this is a necessary evil.  However, after much thought and reflection I have concluded that this department and procedure should be continuously monitored and reviewed by top management.

After buying and operating my own company in 1997 I decided that even though I needed a Warranty/RMA department and system, it should be diligently watched and monitored.  I set up metrics to watch and be notified of any returns on a daily basis.

Many companies know the reality of having the Warranty/RMA service.  Many, especially larger companies I have worked for never really monitored the process – they set up the department and took it as a fact-of life, put it in the back room and ignore.

I believe this was part of the nucleus for my start on the “LEAN JOURNEY”.  I now own another company and we have begun lean thinking — I am definitely watching and doing all that I can to stop and/or keep returns as close to zero as possible.

Remember, Warranty/RMA's (Return Material Authorization), Necessary – but – Really Bad!