Written by: Ashok Jaiswar
About the author: Group Head Marketing & Corporate Communications – Greaves Cotton Limited & Ampere Electric
“You sell it and they may forget you, You serve well and they may remember you always.”
This has been a source of great inspiration for me as a Sales & Marketing person working to create great memorable experiences in the lifecycle journey of customers.
Any customer buying a product considers 3 types of brands: –
Corporate Brand – based on the premise of trust, legacy, social equity which has been created so far.
Product Brand is purely about the product features, how one associates, uses & gets satisfied with the product.
Service Brand is how a customer gets service post purchase.
How brands create assuring ecosystem support so that the consumer doesn’t have to worry about the service or repair & eventually enjoys gratifying ownership experience is very important.
It feels amazing when customers feel assured to buy your product or service. There cannot be a better reward for a company than a satisfied customer who goes out & advocates about the product or brand.
GREAT EXPERIENCE – HAPPY CUSTOMER – LOYAL CUSTOMER – BRAND ADVOCATE- MORE LOYAL CUSTOMERS – MORE SALES – HIGHER PROFITS
Especially in mechanical products the post purchase service is an important part of the buying decision. Usually companies prepare their fleet of aftermarket teams to ensure all functional issues are addressed timely & efficiently.
With increasing mechatronics & growing digitization, this calls for a new set of skills & capabilities to ensure the product is up & running with an uninterrupted performance, always.
When it comes to service marketing one needs to find alternative ways of getting closer to the customer & educate the customer about genuine service so that the product enjoys a long life. Adulteration or fixing up alternate parts not fitting well in the original design scheme of the product, can hamper working of the product & impact heavily on product ownership cost.
What makes Service a critical pillar of the business strategy?
Service is a crucial part of any business strategy but most of the time it gets a huge miss. Many companies get myopic and keep most of their focus on the product sales, top line revenue and continuous chase of execution. It doesn’t work in the long run. Selling isn’t enough & without robust support of service & aftermarket care, any product may not be able to sustain for long.
- So, what do winning companies and brands do to provide superior usage experience for their product?
- How do they manage to get quick service done, build great relationships, generate referrals and in turn reduce the cost of sales?
- How can we prioritize our focus depending on the overall serviceable population in the market?
Here are few things one can do with reference to Service Marketing:
- Reach out to them over messages, calls, meets or at your service centres
- If a customer is busy or can’t come to the nearest service centre, provide service at doorstep. One may not use this often, but it’s always a great assurance to the customer that he won’t be left stranded & the company will take care.
- Sensitize the importance of regular service to prolong product life and remove any concern related to product usage.
- Share maintenance tips and educate how to take care of products.
- Communicate about new service facilities, schemes & warranty offers.
- Communicate about benefit of regular maintenance, cost savings etc
- Invite them to service camp, garage meets, workshops etc.
- SMS/ WhatsApp messages on service reminders for customers in the database.
- Share testimonials about happy ownership experience & build a pool of advocators.
- Leveraging service history, prioritize & consumer behaviour to upsell & cross sell value added products.
- Work around following parameters & communicate appropriately – Trust, Transparency, Accessibility, Friendliness, Genuine care, Availability of wide range of parts, Affordable parts, Quick Repair, Critical repairs & Value for Money.
Most automobile companies generate their revenue through service, while the sales function usually takes care of the overhead costs.
What do Service Champions do differently?
Attaining prowess in service calls starts from a deep-seated philosophy of care which usually is part of the DNA of these brands. They are obsessed with customer requirements & go extra lengths to not just meet their basic needs but to ensure they are happy & satisfied. They aren’t knocked down even by the lockdowns & always do things with great passion & discipline. The ecosystem is built around customer’s convenience & usually available at arm’s length of customer.
They are driven by what Katie Stabler aptly puts across “A customer’s praise can light up your day but a customer’s complaint can illuminate your entire understanding”
Champions are obsessed with customers & they actively practice the following:
- Listen: Study the recorded Customer calls, Service track records to understand what are their clear requirements & design programs accordingly for service & parts.
- Enable: Create customized packages for fast moving parts & bundle them at lucrative offer, which can be communicated to allure customers for service.
- Stay True– Live up to the “There for You” service philosophy & provide alternate products till the time any major repair is done (substitute vehicles in automobiles)
- Help– Reach out programs with advisory on how to prolong life by regular maintenance tips.
- Honesty-Display the NPS (Net Promoter Score) prominently in the service back office area & let that be a reminder to foster actions for the entire team.
- Appreciate– Reward service staff for improving their S2S score – Sales through Service.
- Agility-Address quickly any service complaint. Around 70% of service complaints are less severe in intensity & most of this can be resolved just over 1st connect. Delays in attending the case dampens spirit & creates negative perception for the brand.
- “Train– Observe-Improve-Train–Repeat” is the only way to upskill & create proficient teams who can do more for the brand in the long run. If this is continued, there is drastic improvement in the overall service performance & revenue.