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4 Key Elements of a Well-Rounded Repair Strategy

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Most technology products are built to last. But even the most well-designed products may need repairs when a device is damaged, a component is recalled or software updates are required. Forward-thinking manufacturers determine at the outset what can go wrong and devise a strategy that factors repair into the product lifecycle. Baking in a predictable response to an often unpredictable occurrence strengthens business operations and helps ensure a seamless customer experience when repairs are needed. A proactive approach also opens the door to opportunities in a circular economy whose ethos centers on sustainable practices.  

The question becomes how to execute that strategy. There are two options: You can either stand up a repair depot in-house or you can outsource repair services (in whole or in part) to an expert. Keeping it in-house can be tempting because your designers, engineers and technicians already know your products inside and out. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the capacity, bandwidth and skill sets to manage and execute repair services, too, as the totality of the repair function can be quite complex, especially for technology original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that have an extensive array of products and solutions in market. 

What Makes a Well-Rounded Repair Strategy?

Repairing the device is just one aspect of a repair strategy. There’s also inventory to consider — sourcing and warehousing replacement parts, and staying in sync with demand. There are logistics involved in shipping devices from the customer to the repair facility and back again. Labor considerations come into play, too, especially when skilled repair technicians are in high demand. Regulatory considerations add to the complexity as devices cross borders and as OEMs decide what to do with products approaching end of life.

Most OEMs view innovation and product development — not repair services — as their forte, so outsourcing is the optimal choice for many. There are four key elements to a well-rounded repair strategy that you should keep in mind when vetting a repair service partner.

1. Seamless Customer Experience

Not many things can upend your customer’s business faster than a reliable device becoming unreliable, especially if it’s central to their business processes. And there are few things that can ruin a customer relationship faster than inconsistent service and slipshod repairs. Delivering exceptional repair services goes a long way toward maintaining customer relationships and long-term satisfaction. 

Customers want four things from your repair services:

  • Quality: High-quality repairs that they can trust to be done right every time
  • Expertise: Seamless services that maximize the value of their technology investment
  • Convenience: Timely maintenance, 24/7 tech support and flexible payment options
  • Sustainability: Processes that take into consideration the health of the planet

An outsourcing partner who supports a full-circle repair strategy can extend the useful life of your products — something every customer will appreciate — and bolster your reputation as someone customers can trust to help them keep their business running smoothly. 

2. Durable Business Operations

Outsourcing to a repair services expert with global capabilities can help you address operational challenges that you don’t have the bandwidth, specialty equipment or infrastructure to manage effectively. Here are a few to consider:

  • Procurement and inventory optimization: Parts must be available when and where you need them to meet customer expectations, yet the principles of efficient inventory management still apply. An expert with an established global supply chain, rock-solid logistics capabilities and well-honed inventory optimization processes will help you ensure your repair strategy works well for your customers and your balance sheet.

  • Uncompromising standards: Fast repairs are one thing — doing them right is another. Look for a repair services partner who maintains the same high standards you do, from robust quality management systems and certified, conveniently located facilities to effective communication and expert support in proximity to customers.

  • Global visibility and expertise: Peace of mind comes with knowing the status of repairs and resting assured that they’re being managed by professionals who take your reputation as seriously as you do. Globally aligned and connected control systems enable you to review track-and-trace information, repair history, quality metrics and shipping status anytime, anywhere in the world. And having a supportive outsourcing team comprised of engineers, supply chain specialists, technical support teams and other experts helps ensure that any gaps in your capabilities are filled by people you can trust like your own team.

3. Actionable Sustainability Initiatives

It’s quite common today for customers and business partners to factor an OEM’s sustainability efforts into their purchasing and engagement decisions. They’ll certainly take note of whether or not your stance is in line with theirs and whether your actions echo your words. 

Engaging a repair services provider that supports the entire product lifecycle makes it easier for you to adopt sustainability initiatives that are good for people, the planet and your bottom line. They’re likely well-versed in the circular economy, which aims to keep materials in use for as long as possible. Participating in the circular economy not only limits pollution and reduces waste, but it also opens up new opportunities through repair, refurbishment and recycling that can produce meaningful revenue streams long after the initial product sale. 

An eco-aware repair services partner with well-developed circular economy strategies and processes in place can support your sustainability initiatives in numerous ways, including:

  • Providing insights that help you find alternatives to toxic materials, lessen the use of nonrenewable materials and restore landscapes and biodiversity when neither of the two can be avoided (despite your best efforts to do so)

  • Putting design thinking to work from the get-go to help you make your products easier to repair, recycle or repurpose when they reach the end of their useful life — all of which can keep your company from exacerbating the massive global e-waste problem

  • Ferreting out waste from your supply chain, logistics and manufacturing processes to reduce your carbon footprint and lower greenhouse gas emissions 

Every OEM can become a champion of actionable sustainability in IT with the right partner by their side. With your environmental credentials under review, it pays to “walk the talk” and follow through on your commitment to sustainability. The questions medical device manufacturers are asking around the six Rs of sustainability may inject some fresh thinking into your ESG efforts and illuminate more key points of consideration as you search for a complementary repair services provider.

4. Robust Depot Repair Services

All of the above elements are essential to an effective repair strategy, but by necessity, robust services should be nestled into the center. High-quality global repair services will keep your full-circle repair strategy humming, your products working as intended for as long as possible and your customers functioning at optimal levels. Here’s what full-circle repair services may encompass for your company:

  • Reverse engineering and root cause analysis to pinpoint the issue at hand, proactively identify trends to decrease future repairs and provide deep technical analysis when warranted

  • Visibility and tracking capabilities that give you a real-time view of the status of products moving through the repair process and offer data analytics that further improve the repair services you offer your customers

  • Logistics and inventory management that simplify spare parts planning, give you the flexibility to avert supply chain disruptions and streamline the movement of products pre- and post-repair

  • Product design consultation that contributes to the ease of repairability for your customers and more fruitful participation in the circular economy for your company

  • Refurbishment and end-of-life management that ensures you remain compliant with environmental regulations as your products are put to new use, as recyclable/reusable materials are harvested from them or as they are removed from service altogether

All of the above is helped by program management and reporting that ensures your repair operations run smoothly and that you are kept abreast of what’s happening with your products at every stage of the technology lifecycle. 

The Value of an Experienced Repair Services Partner

A single, experienced repair services provider can efficiently and cost-effectively manage your entire repair services program, giving you a powerful tool for customer retention and freeing you to focus on innovation. Learn more about what you can accomplish with an outsourced repair services partner in "The Key Spokes of a Full-Circle Repair Strategy." 

Download the eBook The Key Spokes of a Full-Circle Repair Strategy .

 

About the Author

Bobby-Wallace-headshotBobby Wallace serves as the Vice President of Global Repair Services for Shyft Global Services. He focuses on customer growth and service delivery and oversees the company’s CenterPoint facility in Groveport, Ohio, which encompasses Shyft’s widest range of end-to-end product lifecycle services.