Arun Kaushik
Regional Head – Service North India,

Brands And Its Retail Channel Partners: What Is Your Responsibility Towards Service Network?

Post-purchase service quality is becoming more critical for the home electronics buyers and hence brands and channel partners need to define the RACI for managing it. An electronic item is no longer a one-off sale, as most of the large global players offer a portfolio of products and bad service for one product has a cascading effect on the brand.

People often approach me with this question from those evaluating an electronic “What is the service for xyz brand’s refrigerator? I love the latest refrigerator launched by this brand but due to the bad service experience I had with service of a television from the same brand I am unable to decide. What do you suggest?”

Can brands afford to let poor service experience tip the decision of their potential long-term customer?

Top five things that brands can do to create and maintain a good service

Behavior of brands toward the service providers or service organizations. As brands rely on a gamut of partners for providing services on their behalf they must share in the onus for ensuring their label is not scarred by poor end user service experience.

If brands treat their partners be it dealers or service providers at par and as wheels in their be-spoke model, the customers will not be lured out of their allegiance to the brand. However, this requires a change in attitude, from servitude to service at altitude (as I like to call it).

Brands should ensure that this change in attitude toward service providers goes deep in the field sales teams. The current trend of brand field sales executives treating the service team as untouchable has to change if they want their service to be of the greatest level.

Behavior of dealers toward service organization. As much as it is important for brands to improve their perspective toward service and service providers, in the same way it is important for dealers and distributors to treat service providers as a team. The current trend of lacking consideration for service partners and doing all simple tasks like local installation through the organization’s own staff and giving upcountry, repair jobs to service providers has to stop. To create a win-win situation for service providers and all stake holders in the ecosystem a selfless attitude has to come.

Know the percentage of calls going to the service partner. Plan your service mix thoughtfully. If you or the dealer or your sales channel will take the cream of the services and leave the squeezed-out sugarcane for your service partners to juice you should never expect quality from service providers.

The trend of flow of upcountry versus local and installation versus repair bookings should be known by brands. And this trend has to be healthy in order to keep the service partners motivated. Brands cannot give a professional service experience to their customers if the retail channel is not trained on this and if they do not understand the importance of a healthy mix.

It is not the big things but the tiny ones that matter the most.

Invest in your relationships. Devoting all their energies and efforts to the single purchase point is not a prerogative for brands anymore; it is at best a tactical move with short-term lure. Investment in relationships with the stakeholders across the product life cycle from the point it enters the customer’s consideration for purchase to the point it leaves the customer’s house after years of usage and re-initiates the journey of deciding Which brand to buy? should be the area of play for brands.

Brands must therefore solidify their relationship with their service partners by understanding the challenges faced by them on ground and work out mutually beneficial solutions. Scheduling regular service meetings could be the first meaningful step toward a more fulfilling association.

A brand can afford to be egotistical and focus only on the short run, but with time a non-judicious approach will be detrimental.

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