Consumerism driven by globalization, enhanced income levels and aspirations is a reality in most developed markets around the globe. We, as consumers, are likely to buy, own and use many different products and services at different stages of our life cycle as a consumer. Many of these products and services have become ‘mission critical’ to our busy lives and the quality of life suffers when we are unable to use these products and services optimally.

How do Brands serve you and me as a ‘consumer’/’customer of their product or Service’?

Most products are sold today through an Authorized Dealer or a sales channel of the mainstream brand. Services are typically sold either by the mainstream brand directly or their authorised service centres/agents. However many of these channels do not have adequate level of IT systems to capture customer data and to maintain such data for customer engagement. Those who collect such customer data forgets to use the customer data subsequently.

The invoice provided by the point of sales are typically on POS systems with thermal printers. We are told that it is better to scan and save the invoice immediately since the printed matter may disappear over time and consumer may not be able to produce them for warranty or post sale support purposes. The purchase ends as a transaction between the consumer and the Brand/Service provider.

Should there be a failure subsequently of the product the consumer has to struggle to get services required be it a ‘breakdown’ or ‘warranty’ or ‘post warranty’. The onus is on the consumer to prove that he is indeed a ‘customer of the Brand’ through invoice number and date. Consumer has also to prove his identity as the owner of the product or service. The customer has also to remember the validity period of the warranty or service arrangement available to him. While it is a fact that quality of many products have improved over the last many years, it is also a fact that systems for better customer service has not kept pace.

Many consumer products require specialized installation and training for use particularly during the first few months after a new product purchase. While there are some services available for product installation, there are hardly any mechanisms available today for consumers to utilize the features available on the products. Imagine the customer satisfaction possible when he/she is able to use many of the unique features available on the product/service and to improve the quality of his use experience. How can this be achieved?

Can I, as a customer of a brand, bring value to the brand by providing feedback on the experiences, I have had with the brand at the point of purchase, point of installation and during usage that enables Brands to improve the customer experience at different points of engagement.

Can I be rewarded for such feedback?

Can I get a digitized copy of my purchase and warranty documentation that does not require me to store physical documents?

Can I be reminded on warranty expiry of my product automatically without a customer registration process with each brand?

Can I be automatically identified and considered as a ‘customer’ based on the data collected at the point of sales?

These are some of the expectations of consumers.

How are Brands responding to these customer expectations ? Please share your experiences.