We are living in the age of the 'always on' consumer who feels anxious when they are without their favorite electronic device, even for a short period of time. This means when products fail, their owners want them back in their hands as soon as possible.
An estimated 15% of consumer electronics fail in the first three to four years of ownership, according to SquareTrade. Yet more than two-thirds (68%) of returns are characterized as No Fault Found (NFF), meaning millions of products are returned for repairs for no particular reason, Accenture estimated. NFF issues can lead to billions of dollars of unnecessary costs, as well as impacting on the environment and a company's carbon footprint. The effects are then increased further if devices are then sent back again because the customer is still unsatisfied. For the 'always on' consumer, having a product returned when it still doesn't work properly ranks as one of life's biggest irritants.
The good news is that growing investment in research and development by some aftermarket services (AMS) companies means that screening and testing returned products is getting better and faster. Engineering departments in AMS companies are specialists in electronics testing and diagnostics as they are constantly working with devices and parts. These teams are driving this forward, constantly developing new testing processes and protocols, and implementing best practises. This is in order to identify issues as early as possible in the reverse logistics process and ensure processes are constantly improving to save time and costs. Thus providing a source of competitive advantage for OEMs, retailers and insurers, and can help minimize the occurrence of NFF.
Return avoidance is also made possible with self-help and remote diagnostics solutions. For example, the mobile phone sector is investing in such schemes in an effort to prevent returns and identify problems that the user can rectify themselves with guidance.
From our experience at Teleplan, over 30% of smartphone related queries can be resolved within minutes using live technical support specialists over the phone, for example. It avoids unnecessary returns and reduces NFF rates by a factor of four. This results in maximum device up time and a service that can help increase customer satisfaction rates to more than 85%.
Also, using equipment that we have developed, such as the world's first fully-automated, multi-brand smartphone tester for the after-market services industry, we can save around five minutes per device, reducing testing times by up to a 70%, and improving fault detection accuracy by up to a 10%. This amounts to massive efficiencies when testing millions of devices every year, as well as providing significant improvements to quality assurance, with more consistent, reliable, and accurate device verification.
This also saves customers the costs and frustrations associated with misdiagnosed faults and minimises the chance of receiving an incorrect NFF result.
Fast & accurate
A fast and accurate diagnostic process results in an efficient service supply chain, but also reduces the likelihood of returning a faulty product to customers. OEMs, retailers, and insurers need after sales partners with a top-class technical set up to test devices as effectively and efficiently as possible. Furthermore, product testing must keep pace with the rapid evolution of connected devices, as new technology such as wearables becomes more mainstream.
An incorrect fault diagnoses process can quickly erode customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. A customer is four times more likely to defect to a competitor for a service related problem verses a price or product-related issue, according to brand analyst Bain & Co.
For that reason alone, it is imperative to get the repair and returns process right. Don't let misdiagnosed NFFs result in unhappy customers – make sure you're working with a partner whose testing procedures minimise the chance of faulty product returns, are quick and efficient, and can rectify problems before customer relationships start to wilt.