Return of Product Process - Procedure or Flowchart

LesPiles

Involved In Discussions
#1
Hello everyone!

I am currently looking for a process about returns. Ideally, this process should be a flowchart but a procedure could also help.

We are looking to get an idea about what should be such a process: a high-level description and also details about the lower levels.

We know that this process involves a lot of players (storekeepers, quality inspector, repair, finance, customer service, etc.).

In the past, we have outlined a semblance of a procedure but have never succeeded in formalizing anything and we are lost on what should be such a process.

Curiously enough, we do not find much on Google ... At best, some rules for the client to return a product.

Someone can help me ?

Thank you in advance to all!

LesPiles
 
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normzone

Trusted Information Resource
#2
It varies from outfit to outfit.

One centralized instruction is useful if it all fits there nicely, but once it gets beyond that point in order to make it readable you may want to break it into a couple of pieces.

Map it out on paper or whiteboard with all the key players, and get consensus on what should be documented and what does not need to be. At that point seek agreement on one doc or multiple.

Flowcharts are useful, but they are a challenge to edit and revise, and you will find reasons to update this document. Some people who don't like to read think they are less confusing, but I lean towards text.
 

cferrer

Involved In Discussions
#3
Any other inputs here? It is true that there seems to be very little literature on the topic of returns, repairs as related to process management in the context of quality. Or I am just not finding the information?

Any experts out there?
 

Tagin

Trusted Information Resource
#4
How each company handles returns/repairs can differ, have different policies, etc., and so the associated processes/flows will necessarily differ.

A few things come to mind:
1) Generally, you would consider product being returned for credit/replacement/repair as nonconforming product. Therefore, your processes should take into account the requirements for control of NC product: labeling, segregation, traceability, etc.
2) Document the effect of rework: Are there changes to the specs/functions/lifespan/etc. of the product as a result of it being reworked? Are there are additional/different testing/verification that has to be performed on repairs? Are there statutory/regulatory impacts?
3) Authority/responsibility/approvals: who can approve a customer returning a product for repair/replacement/credit? Who can decide how to repair a product? Does each repair case need approval? Who decides the repair price? Who determines/approves scrapping of defective components? Does the service dept. have an escalation path? Etc.
4) What training do the repair techs need? It can often differ from the production personnel.
5) Tools - what diagnostic tools are used? Are they calibrated/maintained?
6) When you repair a product, are different/additional documented procedures required from the instructions used to originally build the product?
7) How/where are repair records kept? Are there statutory/regulatory/customer reqmts for these records?
8) How does the service dept deal with (e.g., document/escalate) customer complaints? (Since they may often bear the brunt of a complaint alongside a repair request.)
 

cferrer

Involved In Discussions
#5
Thanks a lot Tagin. OK, so here is how I envision the workflow:

1. Authorization to return
2. Receiving and incoming inspection of RM
3. Activation of the Control of non-conforming product process
4. Evaluate risk and decide if activation of CAPA process is needed
5. Trigger repair technicians or send back to supplier to be repaired
6. Diagnose to know if repairable
7. If warranty, repair or replace and send. If out of warranty, quote for repair or replacement. If none, dispose of.
8. If CAPA was activated, deliver 8D report or root cause analysis to customer. Continue with preventive measures.
9. If no CAPA was initiated, close case

So, I guess this is a very cross-departamental process (customer support, repair department, logistics department, purchasing department and Quality through the activation of CAPA). But do you agree that not every return must become a CAPA? Do you agree that QM must not be involved always but only when CAPA is initiated? Do you agree that the Process owner can be someone outside quality control?
 

Tagin

Trusted Information Resource
#6
But do you agree that not every return must become a CAPA?
Do you agree that QM must not be involved always but only when CAPA is initiated?
Do you agree that the Process owner can be someone outside quality control?
These questions would be answered based on requirements (company policies, regulatory/statutory, customer, compliance). There is no generic answer.

That said, I would think for most products it be unrealistic/unnecessary to create a CAPA for every return. Just like failures on a production line, you might assess a series of failures and after X amount or X% or certain characteristics of the failures, you might raise a CAPA; otherwise, you would just handle it as NC product.

It would seem prudent (and might be required) to monitor/analyze returns for trends, patterns, hazards that should generate some kind of corrective activity.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#7
These questions would be answered based on requirements (company policies, regulatory/statutory, customer, compliance). There is no generic answer.

That said, I would think for most products it be unrealistic/unnecessary to create a CAPA for every return. Just like failures on a production line, you might assess a series of failures and after X amount or X% or certain characteristics of the failures, you might raise a CAPA; otherwise, you would just handle it as NC product.

It would seem prudent (and might be required) to monitor/analyze returns for trends, patterns, hazards that should generate some kind of corrective activity.
I think the list you posted is very good, but I would be careful about classifications. You wrote:
1) Generally, you would consider product being returned for credit/replacement/repair as nonconforming product. Therefore, your processes should take into account the requirements for control of NC product: labeling, segregation, traceability, etc.
Notwithstanding your "generally" qualifier, products can be returned for many reasons--warranty repairs, repairs outside of warranty coverage, etc.--so classification can be important. Generally (again) classifying an out-of-warranty repair as nonconforming product can cause a bump in PPM numbers that's not justified. Similarly, warranty repairs will probably invoke a separate process in addition to simple NC status.
 

Tagin

Trusted Information Resource
#8
How each company handles returns/repairs can differ, have different policies, etc., and so the associated processes/flows will necessarily differ.

A few things come to mind:
1) Generally, you would consider product being returned for credit/replacement/repair as nonconforming product. Therefore, your processes should take into account the requirements for control of NC product: labeling, segregation, traceability, etc.
2) Document the effect of rework: Are there changes to the specs/functions/lifespan/etc. of the product as a result of it being reworked? Are there are additional/different testing/verification that has to be performed on repairs? Are there statutory/regulatory impacts?
3) Authority/responsibility/approvals: who can approve a customer returning a product for repair/replacement/credit? Who can decide how to repair a product? Does each repair case need approval? Who decides the repair price? Who determines/approves scrapping of defective components? Does the service dept. have an escalation path? Etc.
4) What training do the repair techs need? It can often differ from the production personnel.
5) Tools - what diagnostic tools are used? Are they calibrated/maintained?
6) When you repair a product, are different/additional documented procedures required from the instructions used to originally build the product?
7) How/where are repair records kept? Are there statutory/regulatory/customer reqmts for these records?
8) How does the service dept deal with (e.g., document/escalate) customer complaints? (Since they may often bear the brunt of a complaint alongside a repair request.)
Another one!: Handling of customer-owned property is also something to address.
(this post reminded me of that)
 

cferrer

Involved In Discussions
#9
Hello Everyone,
Some how I am still trying to wrap my head around the broader aspects and the context in which the Returns Process resides. Would you say that the returns process in embeded inside the complaints management process as just one of the variations in which a complaint manifests itself? This is of course assuming that for the types of goods in our industry (capital investment industial equipment), there will never be a return just because the customer "didnt like it and changed his or her mind."
 

cferrer

Involved In Discussions
#10
I guess another way to ask would be:
What is the relationship between the Returns process and other processes such as complaints handling, warranty claims management, and customer relationship management.?
 
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