Consumers increasingly are looking to manufacturers to support their products long after the original guarantee has expired.
Which is why manufacturers should no longer shy away from promoting product support packages for fear of detracting from the quality image that their brands stand for.
In the real world away from the shiny brochures and gleaming showrooms, products are used, and sometimes misused,. As a result, even the best of them can sometimes play up or even break down.
This is where branded product support packages such as AppleCare go above and beyond providing a mere product repair.
With them, you get expertise, reassurance and remedies that enhance relationships with customers and deepen brand value.
So, at a time when consumer organisations like Which in the UK and Consumer Reports in the USA often advise customers to steer clear of buying extra support after the manufacturer’s guarantee has run out, ask yourself this question:
Why are more and more consumers paying for product support?
According to a Harvard Business Review article by Rafi Mohammed the benefits of peace of mind are often top of mind when consumers think about a product that they would hate to be without if it developed a technical hitch or a major fault.
He cites his own experience of Dell who took care of his faulty laptop in a process that could not have been “more convenient, efficient, and stress free”. Guess which computer brand Rafi is likely to recommend?
It is invaluable knowing that the company that built the product has an expert on hand to resolve the problem over the phone or to repair or replace it.
But it is not just about “peace of mind”. It is also about protecting an investment which is as much an emotional one as a financial one.
The long recession has severely dented sales of consumer products. It has also led to customers keeping their domestic appliances and consumer devices for longer. Finally, it has forced consumers to consider all aspects of a new purchase more carefully.
Naturally, this now includes how well a brand provides support post-purchase.
Indeed, where the brand offers its own care packages, rather than outsourcing to third parties, this is often seen as evidence that a company stands fully behind its products.
Offering product support beyond the guarantee period increases trust
Offering product support to take care of products after the guarantee period expires increases trust in the product and in the brand.
The pay-off for those brands with long-term product support is that growing numbers of customers are now opting to buy into their after sales programmes.
A US study by Fulcrum Analytics in 2012 concluded that 51% would prefer product support from the brand itself. Moreover, 37% of customers stated that they would only buy product support directly from the manufacturer.
4 Benefits for Customers who buy branded product support
So what advantages are customers getting when they take their support straight from the brand that made their product?
Customers value 4 important benefits.
1. Online and telephone advice from people who really know the product
2. Timely product upgrades and maintenance support
3. Repairs carried out by certified product experts
4. An ongoing relationship with a brand that they have bought into
For brands this last insight has real power.