Change and Innovation in Aftersales ServiceRobert Coolidge
Another Consumer Electronics Show has come and gone, and the industry is well into the first quarter of what promises to be an interesting year of change and innovation for the aftersales service community.
The buzz in the Appliance and Electronics verticals continues to center around the “Internet of Things” with focus on the connected home. Remote monitoring and control of devices throughout the home via WiFi is gaining traction. Now our smart washers can tell our smart phones when the laundry is done, so it appears the Jetsons weren’t as farfetched after all.
With this type of connectivity, it seems logical that remote online diagnostics will be the future of repair, minimizing time-consuming in-home visits. Service teams would be able to connect to home networks and read failure codes to troubleshoot and identify parts needed. Just another few clicks and parts can be ordered – Encompass is standing by!
In consumer electronics, there may actually be a reversal (or at least slowing) of the replace vs. repair trend. Display panels have become so thin that components must be housed separately within the control base. This change in design makes televisions less bulky and more portable, which could help energize depot repair. For field techs, commercial and residential installation and connectivity service are tremendous offerings they should be aggressively promoting in addition to repair.
On the back end, warranty underwriters are also exploring innovations to their models. There is much opportunity to “own the home” for extended contract providers looking to expand beyond single product coverage. In turn, whole home warranty providers may consider adding non-traditional goods like televisions, smart phones and computers to their list of covered items.
With many electronics now easier and potentially less expensive to repair, extended warranty providers should reexamine their product buyout policies. Through a variety of measures, Encompass annually saves our warranty partners millions in buyouts – not including the extensive costs and effort of recovering a faulty unit and disposing it within government environmental regulations.
Once repairs are completed successfully, everyone wins: consumers get functioning products and the service community gets work, while being driven toward the proper behavior of enabling more repairs. Labor rates could possibly improve more if the repair process can be more efficient and less products are simply thrown away.
Warranty companies avoid costly buyouts and earn satisfaction from their contract holders. Gift cards and product replacements should be the options of last resort. Even the product manufacturer wins since their products remain in the home and are not displaced by a different brand.
As the industry continues evolving year after year, there will always be opportunity to thrive for those willing to look and work for it.