If you haven’t already heard, 2015 is the year big data became a ubiquitous business necessity. Whether used for operational efficiencies or customer information, the benefits of big data are limitless.

For manufacturers, data from warranty product registrations has the potential to be a gold mine for their marketing efforts. Historically, manufacturers offer warranty registrations in order to obtain customer data and use it to improve their marketing and sales processes.

“Manufacturer’s warranties play an important role in the business cycle,” explain Chris Walker and Scott Cederburg of PricewaterhouseCooper in a recent article for Warranty Week adding that warranties are critical to the success of a company’s sales and marketing efforts (source). Unfortunately for manufacturers, the opportunity to collect big data from warranty product registrations is currently not being leveraged efficiently due to an outdated, laborious process for the consumer.

Most warranty registrations still require customers to fill out a paper card and return it via mail to the manufacturer. In the digital age, these long and tedious forms are a turn-off for many consumers, especially since a separate warranty card must be completed for each product the individual wants to register. Consumers hate the redundancy of having to fill out the same information for multiple products, whether it’s a Fender guitar or a Black and Decker drill. These cards place the burden on the consumer, whose apathy results in a lost opportunity for retailers to obtain the valuable consumer data.

In addition, product warranty registrations, whether they are online or traditional card-in-a-box, suffer from a “perceived lack of trust” from customers regarding what will be done with their data (source). While some registration cards ask for simple information like name and address, others dig deep into the consumer’s personal information by including questions about ethnicity, income, education and family structure. It’s no wonder that less than 10 percent of customers fill out warranty registration cards (source).

It’s clear that the warranty registration process is broken, but companies are more eager than ever before to obtain data from their customers, as it presents a very lucrative avenue for gaining repeat customers. So how does a manufacturer increase the percentage of customers that fill out those registration cards and increase their stores of customer data?

Put simply, reducing the burden on the consumer by streamlining and simplifying the warranty registration process makes it much more likely consumers will submit their information. By making the process automatic and digital, companies reap significantly more data from their customer base, data that has traditionally only been held by retailers and receipt processing companies.

Several solutions to this problem are popping up, including apps that automatically start the warranty registration process based on consumers’ purchase data. Not only is this a benefit for the consumer, allowing them to digitally and automatically submit a warranty for every product they wish to register, but it also delivers value for manufacturers in the form of all-important customer data.

The manufacturers’ product warranty registration process is broken, and all too often is there little thought given to how technology can be leveraged to increase customer response rates. But with the digital resources like one-time entry databases and automatic submissions, the process can be revolutionized. Marketers in the manufacturing industry will finally be able to unlock the wealth and depth of customer data from product registrations.