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A camping solution product vendor in Australia was looking to automate some of their business needs. When customers raised an RMA (return merchandise authorization), they needed to enter information into 3 different platforms. They were doing it manually, it was error-prone, and they needed to verify all 3 platforms periodically to check if all items have been processed. In short, it was a very manual and labor-intensive task, that is very error-prone and they were looking to automate the process.

Identifying the workflow

An RMA is raised when the customer has a defective product or needs to send the product back for inspection. The process begins with the customer being on the phone with a support agent. A customer with the defective product first calls the vendor and gets on the phone with a support agent. The support agent will assist the customer in troubleshooting and identifying the problem. Once the support agent is confident that the product has to be sent back for further inspection, the RMA process begins.

First, the support agent has to create a return slip that will be sent to the customer, since the vendor would cover the shipping costs in returning the product. This is the interaction with the first platform.

Next, the support agent creates an entry on the ecommerce platform for the RMA order. This allows the vendor to track how many of their products have been RMA’d.

Lastly, a support ticket is created on a support ticketing platform. This is used to track the RMA process and also to send over the return slip to the customer.

Then, the vendor has to periodically check whether the customer has sent the product, and follow-up with the customer if the product has not been sent. This takes up a lot of resources for something that is repeatable, and is one prime aspect that the vendor has identified that is suitable for automation.

Implementing the automation

All 3 platforms provided the necessary API for integration. With this project, a solution that will create and enter the necessary information in all 3 platforms once the support agent to raises an RMA is implemented. With the focus on reducing human error, I focused on the aspect where the support agent only needs to enter the information once on their end and everything necessary will be done automatically.

The implemented solution automatically creates the return slip and adds tracking information to the support ticket. This allows a daily job to keep checking for the shipping status and perform follow-ups as necessary periodically.

With this solution, the vendor was able to save roughly 5 hours per week of manual work, and in total they were saving up to $10k of costs per month and provide better customer satisfaction.