After-sales customer service and experience have never mattered more than now. A quick Tweet from a disgruntled customer can very quickly tarnish the image of a brand, leaving prospective customers searching for alternative brands. In addition, products and services have largely become commoditised, thereby putting all the focus on the complete experience that the brand offers, including after-sales service.
Recently we witnessed the launch of television commercials that address after-sales concerns of customers. It is not often that we see advertisements like the ones Lenovo, Samsung TV, and Ford have created. While two of the recent ads promote after-sales customer service, the other busts myths about the servicing costs associated with its product.
The latest ad from Lenovo introduces customers to its guarantee on offering a response within 30 minutes for its after sales service. The Lenovo ad is an example of an ad that builds reassurance for the brand through the service ad. This is the latest in the series of ads focusing on after sales service. In the past ads from Hutch about network coverage involving the pug, Airtel’s Open Network campaign and even Maruti Gypsy’s “No matter where you go you are never far from a Maruti Service Station” campaign have in different ways approached the after-sales customer relationship and promised reliable customer experiences.
Late last year, Samsung TV created an ad that also spoke about its after sales service. The Samsung TV advertisement shows a Samsung Engineer travelling to provide service to a customer in a remote village. Despite the many hurdles, he arrives on time to find that his customer is a young girl at a school for those with visual impairment. The ad goes on to say: “At times, one must go further for the sake of relationships. That’s why Samsung Service Vans go to every corner of the country.”
Tarvinderjit Singh, executive creative director, Cheil India, who conceptualised the Samsung Service Vans ad, said, “This ad does not offer a solution it rather creates a deeper relationship with the customer and reassures the customer that Samsung cares.” Consumer durables once bought become part of the household for almost a decade. It is then critical that a brand shows its commitment to servicing its customer for all those years. This ad is all about forging that long-lasting relationship, according to Singh. This ad went viral and was viewed more than 50 million times in the three weeks since its launch.
According to Bobby Pawar, MD, South Asia, Publicis, ads such as these are a great way to put out a corporate message. “The level of commitment a company has to its customers can be demonstrated through the service campaign. That helps build the brand image beyond the product,” he said.
Ford, on the other hand, addressed the misconception that the cost of service for its various cars is very high. The ads used facts to discredit rumours. Pawar said that in the case of Ford the ad not only dispels preconceptions, it influences consideration let alone buying. “If the preconceived notion is stopping people from getting into the consideration set, then that is something that needs to be addressed,” he said.
The necessity of service ads
Including customer service in the marketing strategy has proved to be a successful recipe for effective marketing in the past too. Maruti Gypsy’s memorable “No matter where you go you are never far from a Maruti Service Station” campaign delivered the message effectively while also making viewers smile. The advertisement created the perception of a reliable and assured customer service for its existing as well as prospective clients.
“Back then, perception was reality, now experience is reality,” said KV Sridhar, Founder and CCO, Hypercollective.
Explaining why it is necessary that brands create powerful service ads, Pawar said, “Consumers now have a platform to express their dissatisfaction and people tend to become more vocal when they have a platform. In many cases the positive experiences don’t get heard. The brands themselves need to make them heard.”
Keep promises or lose customers’ trust
Pointing out that the expectations of customers are very high these days, Sridhar said, “It has become very difficult to satisfy people. If one has to stand in a queue for 15 minutes, they will send out a tweet about it. It is therefore important that when brands do choose to address customer service-related concerns they should be geared up to actually address those concerns in the real world.” Pawar reiterated that experience is the cornerstone of service ads. He said, “It is not just important to say that our service is great. The service has to be demonstrated in a way that people feel it and realise it. That is when these campaigns are most effective.”
Echoing the same sentiment, N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA, said that when an advertisement targets the after sales experience from a brand, it is key that the promise that is made is kept. Ads that are real case studies have a chance of making a greater impact than ads that simply make tall claims. According to him if brands do not meet the claims made in the advertisements, customers will lose faith in the brand and the impact of the advertisement will be naught. “Everything depends on the service that customers receive, if the brands fail to deliver what is promised, customer disenchantment will be high,” he said.
Pawar drew attention to the timing of a service ad. In the case of the Samsung TV service ad, which is unrelated to the Samsung Galaxy fiasco, the timing of the ads helps create a positive image for the brand when the brand is the midst of handling a crisis. “An ad that talks about how much attention will be paid to you, the customer, is a good thing to do when needed,” he said.
Pawar added that the service on the ground needs to make good for the promises that are made. “All the goodwill in the world comes crashing down when the experience does not match the expectation. Therefore, one must be careful to not over emotionalise a weak promise,” he said.