If your business delivers products in returnable containers, you have to keep tabs on thousands of containers. This is tricky. Your containers can be lost as they move to and from a customer site. Tracking down lost containers from a customer is a headache, causing customer disputes that sap the energy of your team and hurt your reputation.
Customer disputes are so common that they are accepted as a normal part of business, but they shouldn't be: implementing tracking software to monitor the lifecycle of your returnable containers allows you to prevent disputes before they start. Whether you decide to track via barcodes or RFID tags, the impact is the same: tracking software maintains the electronic transaction records that will tell you and your customers the status of your containers throughout your supply chain.
Let's look at two root causes for customer disputes and how tracking software, like TrackAbout, can prevent them:
- Inaccurate hand-written transaction records
If your drivers record the transactions for containers by hand and make a mistake, your team at your office will record incorrect data about your customers’ outstanding balance of rented containers. You will then send incorrect invoices to your customers and damage those relationships. When managing thousands of containers, it would be disastrous if even 2% of all handwritten transactions contained mistakes like this.
Solution: Digitize Transactions. Handwritten mistakes are prevented by moving all documentation on paper to an electronic device with tracking software. Whether you use a rugged device, mobile phone, or tablet, the movement of your containers is recorded using the following process:
- Scan container (with barcode or RFID tag) at your warehouse when moved onto truck
- Scan when delivered to customer location
- Scan when moved from customer location back onto your truck
- Scan when container arrives back at your warehouse
After scanning the container throughout its lifecycle, you’ll always have a clear audit trail of the container’s status. No need to worry about your customer invoice anymore, right? Wrong.
If a container isn’t scanned at a point where the container changes hands, you may encounter another root cause of customer disputes: lack of communication.
- Containers can be moved without notice
Suppose you deliver containers to a hospital, and the hospital’s ambulance company takes some of your containers from the hospital to a nursing home and leaves it there without telling anyone. Now the hospital has 'lost' your containers, and you will have no record of where the containers were moved.
Not knowing that some hospital containers are lost, you will end up charging the hospital for more containers than they can find. Once the hospital notices the incorrect invoice, this blows up into a dispute and sucks your people's time, energy and hurts your reputation with the hospital.
To make matters worse, when lost containers finally are returned, it will be difficult to determine which of your customers should be credited for the ‘found’ containers.
Solution: You can't stop containers from going missing, but you can give credit to the right customer when you get the container back. Once the ambulance company returns the empty container to you, your tracking system will tell you to give credit to the hospital for the return and not the ambulance company. This dramatically improves trust with the hospital.
If you’ve accepted customer disputes like the scenarios above as a normal part of running your returnable container business, you may want to consider investing in a returnable container tracking software solution like TrackAbout. Reach out to the TrackAbout team here for a free demo.
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