Complaint processing of commercial goods in industrial companies: This is how it works, guaranteed!

Published June 20, 2024

Dortje Janzen d.velop AG

Mistakes happen and they are human! But mistakes, especially those that lead to complaints, should not be repeated. In this way, sources of error should be uncovered in order to ensure the high quality of an end product and overall business success in the long term. Nevertheless, dealing with complaints is a particular challenge for many industrial companies. This also affects the quality of purchased parts, such as merchandise that is resold without processing. Companies that have a high proportion of merchandise are therefore striving to improve the process chain, especially complaints processing. Only good and structured handling of errors can prevent them in the long term and ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty.

This article describes how you can use digital complaint processing to regulate damage to commercial goods in industrial companies and thus achieve additional profit.

What does complaint processing/complaint handling include?

Complaint processing includes all processes and measures to manage a claim reported by the customer. This applies to all steps from complaint analysis to condition adjustment and credit or replacement delivery to the customer.

How important is the handling of complaints about commercial goods for industrial companies?

As a rule, companies have the right to free subsequent delivery in the event of a complaint about commercial goods. Subject to the volume of merchandise, quality checking maybe random, with some items being sent to a customer without special inspection. This means that possible errors only become apparent when the end customer complains about the defective goods. This illustrates the importance and necessity of defect-free delivery or efficient complaint processing in the event of damage. However, due to the lack of professional complaint processing, companies often have high complaint rates and high costs, especially when the costs resulting from a complaint are not passed on to the upstream supplier.

Faster complaint processing through greater involvement of suppliers

The aim should be to raise supplier awareness of how to deal with complaints and thus improve the exchange and dissemination of information. In addition, the monetary charge for the goods complained about is intended to achieve a long-term learning effect for the supplier. For this purpose, industrial companies should create in advance an additional supplier agreement, to include the process in the purchasing conditions.

Optimised complaint processing process – with a document management system

The complaint processing process is described using two basic systems. On the one hand, an ERP system, for example SAP, and on the other hand, a document management system (DMS), such as d.velop documents.

1. Entry of the customer order

The process always begins with entering the customer order in the ERP system. All documents, information as well as internal and external correspondence relating to an order are then stored in the DMS archive system.

2. Complaint order

In the event of a complaint, the customer reports it and a complaint order is then recorded. If the goods are commercial goods, the required goods are reported to purchasing, who then place a complaint order with the supplier.

3. Complaint order

The order history is directly visible in the complaint order. This means the supplier can quickly and easily understand what the original order was. The item description of the complaint order also states the reason for the complaint, which is automatically taken over from the complaint order. All of this information is automatically read by the ERP system and printed on the document. The complaint order is then archived in the DMS, where it is machine read and a workflow is triggered for further complaint processing.

4. Review of the complaint order

A purchasing employee must then check the order. As an example, review images of the goods being complained about, which were also automatically attached to the order through the link in the DMS. If the identified damage was caused by the supplier, they will receive an email with the corresponding complaint order and the pictures.

If the supplier does not respond within a reasonable period of time, it acknowledges the complaint and undertakes to comply with the conditions set out in the supplier agreement, such as a free replacement delivery.

However, if the supplier responds within the set deadline, the email is automatically stored again in the DMS and a new workflow begins. A quality assurance (QA) employee is now responsible for processing the workflow, as they can better assess the damage due to their technical expertise. With just a few clicks, the QS employee has an overview of all the information and documents that have already been generated as part of complaint processing. As the complaint process progresses, the QS employee communicates directly with the supplier. After agreement, the workflow can be closed.

Advantages of digital complaint processing

  • Central storage of all relevant documents and emails regarding a complaint
  • Allocation of costs incurred based on cause
  • Transparent display and evaluation of all complaint orders
  • Prevent sources of error through information exchange
  • Greater involvement of the supplier in complaint processing
  • Time savings for employees

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