IT Maintenance Can Add Value To Your Product Strategy - InformationWeek

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4/5/2016
09:10 AM
Nelson Takumi Kavatoko
Nelson Takumi Kavatoko
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IT Maintenance Can Add Value To Your Product Strategy

If you haven't been thinking about post-sales maintenance, it might be time to start.

Manufacturers tend to focus on selling products because that is their core business. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, what if a customer needs any kind of IT maintenance after the sale? What is expected from the manufacturing company then?

Imagine that the new device (a mobile phone, tablet, notebook, etc.) you had expected so much from fails within a week. You call the manufacturer only to learn that the nearest authorized service provider is in another city. Worse, it’s going to take approximately 30 days for the product to be repaired and returned to you -- not to mention the customer service representative was rude to you on the phone.

If you encountered something like this, you would probably be frustrated and would hesitate to buy something from that company again.

Are Post-Sales Support Services Really That Important?

Customers are more likely to tell others about bad experiences than good ones. They might post complaints on the manufacturer’s website, write negative reviews, or talk about their dissatisfaction on social media. With all that negative press, current and potential customers will start to view both the product and the brand as unreliable.

Consequently, the support that a manufacturer provides after a sale is just as important as the quality of its products. Providing good post-sales support is the final chance a company has to fix customer issues and prevent them from having a negative experience. Support services are even one of the parameters in product quality ratings.

Some companies are known for their excellent support services -- Apple for smartphones and Audi for cars, for example. You’ve probably heard friends or relatives mention their preferences for certain brands over others because they received good post-sales service from them.

Personally, I check out a company’s reputation before I buy its products. I prefer brands with few complaints and high customer satisfaction; remember, a bad support process dissatisfies many customers.

How Does IT Maintenance Affect Your Product Strategy?

The maintenance services that companies provide directly affect their product warranty costs. Efficient management of this component can help decrease a product’s final price.

Which warranty costs beyond traditional maintenance costs (e.g., labor plus parts) are you factoring into your product’s price? Here are some costs you should be considering:

  • Legal
  • Social media
  • Customer cash back
  • Payment for authorized service providers
  • Management teams

Finally, when developing a product strategy, you should also consider how you want to impact your users’ experience with your company. A few years ago in Brazil, Lenovo implemented a new strategy for supporting its products. The project was named Lenovo Home User or Lenovo at Home because the technician would actually go to the customer’s house. This type of service is very different from traditional ones that require the customer to send the product by mail and then wait for its return.

What’s your company’s product strategy? If you haven’t been thinking about post-sales maintenance, it might be time to start. You don’t even need to have all the required IT maintenance abilities in-house; you can contract third-party support services to provide maintenance and support to customers.

Nelson is a subject matter expert at IBM for Multi-vendor Support Services, applying the knowledge acquired during more than nine years of working in the IT services area. He graduated in IT Management from FATEC, continuing his education with post-graduate work in business ... View Full Bio
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