Sean Stapleton, president & CEO of Warrantech Corp., part of AmTrust Financial Services Inc., also spoke at the conference last week.
His presentation in Nashville, entitled “A Holistic Approach to Warranty & Service Contract Administration,” looked at a service call not only as an opportunity to fix a broken product, but also as an opportunity to cement a relationship with the customer.
“How the service provider responds to a claim will drive the customer’s perspective about the underlying failure,” he said. If it goes well, the customer will have a higher level of satisfaction than even cases where there was no claim.
Stapleton said service contract providers should never let the customer forget why they bought the coverage. In fact, he suggested that in cases where the customer’s product failed soon after it was purchased, the service provider should really make a fuss about it.
Maybe an early failure requires a response with a heightened service level, and a heightened sense of urgency? Maybe the failed product should be replaced with an upgraded unit and a sincere apology? Or maybe it’s just a matter of giving the customer a gift card, as some sort of compensation for their troubles?
Stapleton also suggested that service providers have to acknowledge that some of their social media activities need to go beyond just marketing, into actual problem resolution. And that can get tricky, because a service contract company such as Warrantech is really operating behind the scenes, supporting their retail and OEM clients and the brands they sell and manufacture.
For instance, a manufacturer or a retailer may post items to Facebook, and a disgruntled consumer may see one of those posts and take the opportunity to voice a complaint about a repair gone bad. Others see the complaint and add their own comments, and soon it’s hundreds of follow-up comments that have nothing to do with the original post. The longer it sits there unresolved, the more abuse it attracts.
Alternatively, let’s say there’s a complaint, and soon there’s a response from the company, and the problem is resolved. People read that and note the quick response, and they begin to form an image of the brand based upon its ability to respond quickly to problems.
Imagine, for instance, it’s the lonely Maytag repairman, who seemingly has nothing better to do than to monitor the appliance company’s Facebook page. When someone complains, there’s nothing more urgent in the world than fixing that problem. And the conversation is there for all current and future customers to read.
Brand Image Protection
That can turn out to be even more important a service for an administrator to provide than it is to operate a massive 24-x-7 call center that responds to complaints over the phone. For while a phone call is private, a Facebook thread is public for all to see, much like an advertisement run on television.
“I’m a huge advocate of using your partner’s brand versus building our own brand,” Stapleton said. “We’re the guy behind the scenes.”
Another attendee wondered how that would work, since it would require the administrator to essentially speak in the name of the retailer or manufacturer.
“It’s their brand you’re messing with,” he suggested.
“No,” Stapleton responded, “it’s their brand we’re protecting.”
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