Situation: The warranty department at a mid-sized sporting goods company was overwhelmed with product complaints. Sales had tripled over the previous four years, and the company instituted a 100% guarantee on all products, increasing the burden on the small warranty department. Turnaround time on consumer calls and emails averaged from 3-4 weeks. Consumers were frustrated, and the company was getting torched on Facebook, significantly affecting brand loyalty. Intervention: We drew a value stream map to clarify the situation and identify the root cause of the problem. In this case, the incomplete information that consumers were providing from the outset forced the warranty service reps into several rounds of email exchanges and phone calls in order to get the necessary information—essentially tripling their work. We redesigned the warranty pages of the web site and built forms that prompted consumers to provide the right information the first time. We also channeled international and military consumers into different buckets, so that they could be handled appropriately.

Resolution: Turnaround time for warranty issues was reduced from four weeks to 48 hours. (As a side project, we also reduced on-hand inventory by 80% by switching to a kanban system with frequent replenishments.)