This is particularly true when your product or service moves from just being used by savvy early adopters who are happy to work round issues (or even fix them themselves) to a more mainstream audience, who may not have any specialist knowledge and are traditionally more demanding when it comes to service.
A recent example of a consumer electronics company that has moved from a niche to mass market is Apple, which recently announced record sales. And, according to the latest US National Customer Service Survey report, while it continues to score well in some areas of technical support, in others it has slipped behind rivals such as HP and Dell. In the first six months of 2011, 58% of customers interviewed were ‘Very Satisfied’ with Apple’s phone based technical support, a drop of 15% since last year.
It is interesting to compare these results with the 2011 Eptica Multichannel Customer Service Study, which surveyed consumer electronics companies operating in the UK on how they responded to basic customer service questions via the web and email. It found a stark gap between the best and worst performing companies – while two companies could successfully answer 7 out of 10 questions online, the sector average was just 4.8 and one company only answered a single question satisfactorily. And only half of manufacturers let non-customers email them with queries – hardly an incentive to buy.
Given the fast moving nature of consumer electronics and the ever increasing complexity of products it is clear that manufacturers need to put the infrastructure in place that scales to keep pace with their success – otherwise their reputation and future sales will definitely suffer.