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Successful Warranty Replacement Management: A Service Supply Chain Case Study

Last modified: January 8, 2018

What does it take for a $50 billion technology conglomerate to buck the trend of diversification and consolidate their entire North American warranty replacement chain with Flash Global?

For this Flash customer, the answer is trust.

Granted, the potential savings of consolidating their warranty fulfillment operations with one partner were beguiling, but anyone in this industry would say such a move would increase risk. The standard practice of mitigating risk by working with multiple service supply chain partners has a strong pull. But then again, Flash Global was no ordinary partner.

 

Business Partners Trust Flash Global

 

Background: Gaining advantage by going against the grain.

For our client, breaking the cardinal rule of supply chain management — thou shalt mitigate risk through diversified partnerships — was the culmination of a long and successful ongoing relationship with Flash stretching back to 1998. At the time, Flash was one of two providers fulfilling warranties for the company.

Flash Global Safety Net

Having two partners made perfect sense. Our client sells mission critical equipment. When the machinery fails, their customers lose Internet access and they have to turn over their business’s open sign. So the warranty replacement services they provide are a lifeline.

For a risk adverse company, our client needed that safety net. The arrangement provided the assurance they needed, and Flash was committed to delivering flawless service for them regardless of whether we were one of two partners or one of one.

However, the funny thing about being good at something is that people usually end up wanting you to do it more. And that’s exactly what happened with Flash.

Our client liked what they saw in Flash so much that they couldn’t see the need for diversifying through two partners anymore. There was no going back once they started to envision just how much they could save by consolidating with Flash.

In an industry where back-up systems are built into business models, the boon provided by consolidation amounts to a significant competitive advantage — so big, that our client asked us not to use their name, lest their competitors get wind of it and follow suit.

 

Challenge: Making the massively complex consolidation a reality

All was right and everyone was excited. Our client made their decision and Flash was committed…and then reality set in.

The elimination of redundant services was going to bring our client enormous savings, no doubt. In essence, they were paying twice for everything: every system and function — from accounting to customer service. And they were spending twice the time on everything from status meetings to monitoring KPIs. But winnowing down their partners would also bring doubt, risk and second-guessing that is SOP in any high-stakes venture.

Could they get past their reservations and follow through? Anything less than 100% commitment on their end wouldn’t cut it. They had to trust Flash implicitly to be the face and voice of their brand. After all, we would be responsible for ensuring their deeds followed their words. It was a big ask because they had demanding customers. Fulfilling on their warranties meant having replacement units to warranty holders’ facilities within 2-4 hours in most cases. The whole experience from when end customers reported a failure to when they received the replacement part(s) was white glove all the way. It had to be. These parts turned their business on or off. The pressure was on for our client — but it nowhere near matched the pressure on Flash.

Flash had to contend with two astronomically huge challenges. Starting with the second, doing the job. Warranty fulfillment in the mission-critical tech environment is a pressure cooker. Every part of the process has to flow together like the Bolshoi Ballet. Our perfectly timed, consistently executed dance has to be perfectly choreographed with our client’s operations. It’s not a job for the inexperienced or faint of heart. But Flash was born for the job. We cut our teeth in external warranty fulfillment before the segment was even a thing. So as far as challenge No. 2 goes, we were a lock.

Challenge No. 1 was a logistical Rubik’s Cube, though. Good thing we here at Flash relish logistics puzzles like no one else. This involved sorting and cataloging every part in our competitors’ control — hundreds of thousands of them. These parts had to be physically relocated to our facilities and the work could not interrupt our client’s operations one bit. That meant doing the work over weekends when traffic slowed. Nevertheless, the work had to be done fast — after all, we’re in the business of providing emergency services, and the thing about emergency services is you never know where and when they’ll be required. Throughout the move we had to be ready to rescue warranty holders without a hitch or single hour of delay.

Supply Chain Challenges

Physically moving the parts was one thing; coordinating with service providers previously contracting with our competitors provided another ginormous challenge. Every partnership had to be reviewed and either renewed under our banner, reconfigured to work with our existing partnerships or removed entirely in the case of redundancy. Forming partnerships, establishing contracts and working with new partners takes time — a luxury that did not exist. Our cut-and-dried procedures and expertise enabled us to do the impossible though: convert all services for seamless, integral coverage — all within a matter of days.

In the end, Flash nailed two challenges that 99.9% of warranty fulfillment providers would have run from.

 

Solution: Providing service that engenders absolute confidence

No vendor in the world could have achieved what Flash did — and continues to do — for this client. This level of integration, trust and expertise required can be achieved only with a true partnership. That’s right, an intimate, committed and collaborative relationship that provides our client with infinitely more than an executer of orders could ever provide.

This partnership opened the door to deep collaboration and sharing of ideas, resulting in innovations and absolute trust that enables them to dedicate their efforts to business development. Partnership was the ultimate peacemaker for our client. Sure, two service providers had provided peace of mind in the past, but having Flash at the table as the lone provider offered so much more in terms of insight, new ideas for services, agile adjustments, and intimacy with our client’s brand — as well as invaluable outside perspective.

Business Models with Flash Global

However, before Flash could prove itself in partnership, we had to provide the goods. We did, thanks to our worldwide network, proven processes and comprehensive suite of service supply chain solutions.

Flash had the capacity to provide the ultimate solution for our client because we had the assets available, were able to expand quickly where necessary, and we have the business model for delivering in high-speed, high-stakes situations. We hired people, added depots and purchased equipment as necessary. Most importantly, we were able to do this within our framework for excellence. That translated to a seamless transition largely completed over the course of a weekend.

Process Part I: Partnering at a deeper, more beneficial level.

Now that you’ve got an idea of the how we did it and what was at stake, you’re probably wondering why our client would choose Flash in the first place and what processes led them to realize they didn’t need anyone else.

Achieving partnership status with our client didn’t happen overnight. Our partner-to-be initially tapped Flash for engineered service supply chain solutions. In a nutshell, we came in to optimize our client’s replacement parts logistics operations using proven strategies, cutting-edge technology and proprietary systems. Flash had the goods, but what truly differentiated us from our competition was our service ethic that amounted to all of these functions being executed by a world-class team that passionately manages every step of the process — right down to the smallest details.

After about two years of sharing duties with our competitor, the Flash difference shone through. It often does. In our pursuit of perfection: we average 98% for all KPIs, for all clients.

Our client saw that by partnering with Flash Global, our teams and resources would operate as an extension of their existing infrastructure. We worked together to develop the agility to shift gears, easily monitor and address concerns, enhance communications, and use better practices to evolve with an eye toward our client’s future success.

Flash just being Flash meant we brought a relentless focus on flawless execution and client satisfaction to their warranty fulfillment services. We helped them build their brand while easing the burden of the day-to-day service. That enabled them to build their business.

Business Development

The other side of Flash’s relentlessness focused on our role as a proactive service supply chain solutions provider. That resulted in continuous added value and waste reduction throughout their entire supply chain. We sought out opportunities for improvements and examined each major point along their supply chain. In addition, we maintained an open dialogue to implement strategies with value-added propositions.

Our role as a passionately involved partner, not a transactional service provider, brought our client many benefits. By bolting us onto their team, they benefited from our years of experience not only in service supply chain but also in operations, technology supply chain services, and business consulting. In addition, they gained direct access to a leadership team with extensive experience in designing, developing, and implementing best-in-class processes, service delivery programs, tools, partnerships, products, and high-performing global teams.

Everything we learned along the way translated into improvement paybacks with immediate and long-term value. We continually built on our commercial and technical capabilities, which enabled us to assess, develop, and implement proactive supply chain solutions for our client, measure their ongoing success, and predict the likelihood of disruptions to mitigate potential damage to their bottom line.

 

Process Part II: Ensuring success through proven programs.

Driving the partnership was a Director of Client Services (DCS) who served as our client’s single point of contact within the worldwide Flash organization. From the get-go, our DCS provided hands-on management and continuity from initial implementation through it all — every challenge, triumph and change. Backed by a deep support team of tenured experts that included a Director of Business Development, Solution Design Engineers, and specialists in Client Services, Inventory Control and Global Trade Compliance, the DCS led the way in providing proactive account management and overseeing a proven process that made all the difference:

  • Translating our client’s annual strategic requirements into tactical plans.
  • Conducting quarterly business reviews.
  • Deriving independent insights from analytics review projects.
  • Reviewing projects, discussing requirements and managing projects.
  • Overseeing business performance through daily, weekly, and monthly reporting.
  • Proactively addressing issues and challenges — and devising solutions to grow our client’s business.

Our solid partnership with our client was anchored by a foundation of vertical expertise that catapulted successes from the onset. The high-tech service supply chain is incredibly volatile by nature. Our client’s even more so, given the importance of the replacement parts we were supplying and the short time frames. This demanded an increased focus on proactive risk management. Flash’s scalable, regionalized high-tech service supply chain solution with local experts who have tech insight and connections enables us to resolve issues before they become destructive.

Deliver Precise Solutions

Additionally, our technology, processes, expertise, dedication and innovative approach enabled us to effectively solve any service supply chain need that arose. Our client’s service supply chain — and continued growth — depends on predictability, consistency, adherence to strict turnaround commitments and visibility. That’s Flash Global’s sweet spot, and our deep engagement with our partner enabled us to proactively deliver increasingly more precise solutions that optimized operations and grew their business.

Our proprietary service supply chain technology enabled us to further increase visibility and reduce lead times. The backbone of Flash Global is our operating system called FlashTrac. It is considered one of the most flexible, customer-friendly systems in the industry. The system was easy for our client to use and seamlessly integrated with their operating platform. It gave them a real-time view of all field inventory, order management and third-party shipment tracking, all of which enhances our ability to identify and manage any potential exceptions that might occur. FlashTrac also enabled us to scale quickly, consistently improve productivity and optimize solutions for our client.

The savings they experienced by reducing from two vendors to one partner, Flash, was compounded by our processes that reduced operational costs and total cost of ownership while increasing visibility and control over their critical replacement parts. It was a huge string of wins for our client, and the savings give them a great big competitive advantage.

Enhancing our client’s customer satisfaction trickled down to increased satisfaction for end customers. The stable and efficient service supply chain increased retention and accelerated growth.

 

Results: Saving our client money was just the beginning of the benefits.

As a result of their boldness, and wise decision to go with Flash, our client is saving a lot of money, just as they hoped. Eliminating service redundancies caused them no sacrifice in quality of service though. In fact, quite the contrary occurred. Their entire service supply chain has been raised to Flash’s high standards.

Flash knows our client, their brand, customers and business. We know their way of work and can anticipate their needs — it’s a very efficient working relationship. They can expect us to meet their service contract requirements established with their end customers, and know with confidence we will do so with passion and commitment equal to theirs. In fact, by relinquishing more control over customer experience, our client has actually gained more control. As a result, they’re able to focus more on their core business and growth. And as they’re expanding, they are naturally calling upon us to help. They recently awarded a contract in Africa where a whole new set of challenges is waiting for Flash’s technology and never give up, never give in approach.

 

Wondering what Flash can do for you?

To learn more about Flash Global end-to-end solution for service supply chain logistics, use the form below to get in touch. An expert advisor can help address your specific needs and provide the detailed information you need to succeed.

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