Customer service is how appliance brands win loyalty. Don’t treat it like an afterthought.
Years ago, building customer loyalty was simple. You spent your time and money researching the best ways to manufacture the best product. You had focus groups telling you what features they wanted in their next refrigerator or washing machine. You asked your mom and dad what they loved most about their oven. You improved your product, you priced it competitively, and you earned lifetime loyalty.
Even the most reliable appliances break down, but you knew your customers would buy your brand when they went out to replace it, because you made the best product on the market.
Changing Consumer Habits
As newer generations age into home-ownership, the market is seeing a shift. Simply having the best product with the best features isn’t enough to earn a millennial’s lifetime loyalty. Younger generations haven’t necessarily had time to build loyalty, and even if they did, there’s a perceived parity across the home appliance market.
Their next oven isn’t the one with the most trustworthy brand name on it, it’s the one that’s already in their pre-furnished house when they move in, or the one that is on sale at Home Depot.
Service as a Product
The modern generation is more brand-agnostic than ever before. Let’s look at one of the most popular consumer brands in modern history – Uber. If someone calls an Uber, they care that it arrives on time. They care about the security of knowing who is coming to get them. They care about getting where they are going in a timely and comfortable manner. What they don’t care about is what kind of car comes to get them. They don’t even care about Uber specifically – they might even dislike Uber based on bad press – but Uber provides a flawless service to them every time, so they continue to use it.
Yes, Uber is a service, and today, owning an appliance is as well.
Having the best brand name or making the best product isn’t how you build loyalty today – but that doesn’t mean loyalty doesn’t exist. Today, loyalty is built by delivering the best, most painless service experiences, every time.
In the US, the market has seen a significant shift towards service industries that highlights this point. According to The Atlantic, services now account for 2/3rds of the total US GDP. People pay for experiences, not for products.
Every time you need to fix one of your appliances, you’re looking at the best opportunity you will ever get to build loyalty and create a lifetime customer. It’s not about your product any more. It’s about delivering the best possible service experience. This is even more important now that more people are working from home, putting more strain on their appliances, and becoming more protective than ever of their homes and their families.
The Service Challenge
Now comes the hard part. The reality of the field service industry is that today, most brands rely on independent contractors to provide service to their customers. These pros know what they’re doing, and they get the job done, but at the end of the day, they don’t work for you. You’ve built a network of independent pros to service your customers, but since they don’t work for your brand, you have little to no visibility into their performance – unless they do a bad job. Then you better believe you’ll hear about it from your customer. The one you just lost for good.
This is an opportunity, but it’s also a risk. In a recent study of consumer feedback, Deloitte says “62% of complaints were about staff attitudes and competences, compared to just 34% about the quality or reliability of goods and services”. Not only is service an important way to differentiate yourself, it’s a potential pitfall if you don’t keep up.
Given this new reality, cultivating your service network, understanding their performance, and taking control of the experience they are providing your customers on your behalf is now the single most critical thing you can do to drive customer loyalty. By moving your operations onto a platform like Dispatch – a platform built from the ground up to help brands work more easily with their independent network, and deliver a more consistent and positive experience to your customers – you can regain control of your service experience.
Today in the Appliance industry, loyalty is built on a foundation of fast, efficient service experiences that cater to the modern expectations of the evolving consumer. It’s hard, but not impossible, to take control of those experiences by working with your independent pros and making sure they represent you in the best way possible.
You give me a great service experience, and the next time I’m in Home Depot upgrading my kitchen, I’ll be looking for your brand.
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