If a company wants to stay relevant in any market long term, providing high-quality customer service is not optional. There are several steps to creating a comprehensive customer satisfaction plan of course, but successful return merchandise authorization (RMA) management is one of the more crucial factors in eCommerce. Before suggestions regarding effective RMA management are discussed, it would be beneficial to take a quick look through the concept of RMA first.
RMA and RMA Management
Return merchandise authorization or RMA is a numbered system that authorizes whether a return request from a customer is to be accepted or rejected. If a return request is accepted, RMA determines how and when that return will be processed. A negative response or denial of a return request must also be authorized through the same system.
How the return requests will be managed depends on several variables which include but are certainly not limited to:
- The concerned company’s return policies, as applicable.
- The product’s nature, as some items like perishables and disposables, are universally not returnable.
- Return policies pertaining to that specific product, if applicable.
- Cause(s) cited for the return request and the product’s condition.
- History of the customer’s overall relationship with the business and especially that of asking for returns.
RMA management refers to the maintenance and management of all processes involved in authorizing a return request, be it for or against the customer’s return request. The software platform and connected tools used to manage the entire system are collectively known as RMA management solutions.
A customer with a valid return request should never feel like:
- They are being made to go through multiple, unnecessary hoops.
- They are being made to wait for a confirmation beyond acceptable limits.
- They are waiting far too long to receive the refund/replacement, post-confirmation.
Even customers with return requests which cannot be fulfilled must be informed about the negative response as quickly and courteously as possible. The negative responses should also be accompanied by the cited reason(s) to justify the denial of their request.
Unfortunately, the RMA process is not always as seamless as it should be on the business end, which inevitably affects the customer’s service experience in a negative way. The four most common RMA pain points responsible for causing the bottlenecks are almost always a result of using outdated RMA management solutions. These pain points can be summarized broadly as:
- Poorly designed and unnecessarily complex user interfaces
- Unverified, wrong, and incomplete customer info
- Absence of an in-house return ticket tracking system
- Absence of built-in assistive automation features
It is true that if your company is still using an ancient RMA system, then a newer system will almost certainly smooth out the workflow to at least some extent. However, you should not be comparing any new RMA management software with outdated solutions, to begin with. Instead, compare the different RMA solutions available now and choose what makes the most business sense in view of the company’s scale, budget, and specific RMA management needs.