Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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12/26/2008
01:09 PM
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A Service Holiday As The Ultimate Gift

"For sale" is certainly a purchase motivator, but the gift of help -- even if but for a day -- might deliver value far in excess than that revealed by even the deepest price slash.

"For sale" is certainly a purchase motivator, but the gift of help -- even if but for a day -- might deliver value far in excess than that revealed by even the deepest price slash.Customer service, like pricing, is often left apart from the traditional branding equation. This is no more true than in the consumer technology sector, wherein the ultimate benefits you get from buying something are presumed to be functional; technology brands do things. When those benefits fail to materialize, it's an exception (or blank) in the math that the owner should figure out and fix.

Technology buyers are all too happy to perpetuate this dichotomy, allowing brands to literally outsource customer service to the customers themselves. The arrangement works, generally, as long as those customers are willing to take on the responsibility of ensuring stuff does what it's supposed to do.

But I wonder if the practice serves as an ongoing obstacle that keeps a much larger universe of customers from buying the stuff. The idea could be tested if tech brands (or a consumer electronics retailer, for instance) chose to change this arrangement, perhaps for a day.

Call it a "service holiday" and, simply, figure out how to help everything work. Maybe proactively reach out to customers and make sure they're satisfied. Keep retail prices steadfast, and instead integrate satisfaction with functional experience and the ongoing definitions of brand.

Instead of giving money away, why not spend the margin hit on providing some extraordinary, hands-on, utterly satisfying service holiday? I wonder if it would do anything for the massive challenges the consumer electronics brands are facing?

Jonathan Salem Baskin writes the Dim Bulb blog, and is the author of Branding Only Works On Cattle.

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