The ownership experience should be a critical brand differentiator and revenue generator for both manufacturers and retailers. Yet only 17 percent of North American consumers believe brands truly care about them after the point of purchase—which might be an accurate reflection of the importance that acquisition-centric marketers place on the aftermarket service and support that drive and solidify satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.
A new study by the CMO Council and LiveTechnology, Product Ownership: Lasting Satisfaction or Painful Distraction?, reveals that 60 percent of surveyed consumers—all owners of one or more homes—rate their post-purchase experiences with manufacturers as underwhelming, and 56 percent were disappointed with service from retailers and e-commerce sites.
The research confirms that the aftermarket ownership experience remains dramatically under-served by most retailers and manufacturers in a landscape in which chief marketers are more focused on demand generation, customer acquisition and product sales—despite the fact that the aftermarket has shown to be a lucrative area of ongoing value creation, revenue growth, higher profit margin, relationship building, referral and customer enrichment.
“While moving product is the focus of many manufacturers and retailers, the post-purchase ownership experience is frequently overlooked and under-served,” said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, in a news release. “Given the cost of acquiring customers and the desire to maximize customer lifetime value, the aftermarket should be an area of strategic focus for marketers seeking low-cost repeat or add-on sales, more service revenue, higher margin/profitability, and greater brand loyalty and advocacy.”
Overwhelmingly, the study reveals that both manufacturers and retailers, in general, are failing to integrate and unify their efforts and reflect a poor understanding of what satisfies and sustains lasting and valued relationships with customers. Other key findings from the Customer Ownership Experience Audit reveal that:
- A substantial half of homeowners believe retailers and manufacturers are disappointing in their care for customers after purchase. Only 17 percent rate their ownership experience as “extremely good,” and 30 percent say their ownership needs are cared for only “pretty well.”
- A high proportion (46 percent) of homeowners say efficient installation and delivery are the most important elements of the post-purchase experience—just behind a well-designed and easy-to-use product (47 percent), and ahead even of product reliability (36 percent).
- In encouraging news for brick-and-mortar retailers, 53 percent of homeowners sourced their goods from department stores, 43 percent from a home goods superstore and 34 from an electronics superstore, while only 28 percent say they used eCommerce channels.
- A sizable 38 percent of respondents say they are most frustrated by retailers who don’t support or service after-sales products, and another 28 percent are most frustrated with retailers who won’t accept returns or warranty claims.
The report also suggests that a large proportion of homeowners don’t want the onus of keeping paper records of their purchases, untangling complex warranty conditions and fine print, or being the sole drivers of aftermarket action. One in three consumers does not register purchased products or return warranty cards—putting them virtually out of reach of aftermarket post-purchase engagement. More than one-third (36 percent) find the terms of returns and warranties confusing or complex while 16 percent actually discard paper receipts, manuals and records.
Customers have a clear call to action and are looking for brands to provide quick, easy, secure and on-demand information on their ownership. They also want relevant, personalized messaging that does not annoy—a responsibility shift that companies like LiveTechnology are pioneering with cloud-based app solutions specifically engineered to deliver accessible value and prevent the frustration of, for instance, rummaging through shoeboxes to find receipts and warranty information.
“Technology is changing the way companies interact with their customers. Consumers are looking for a single application to manage all the items they own and access information on this stuff,” said Wayne Reuvers, CEO of LiveTechnology and the LiveStuff platform, in the release. “Brands now have the opportunity to manage this public facing material. With the ability to update and add new content connected to their products, brands can continue to created advocates for their products and simplify the way consumers get relevant information. This is why we built LiveStuff. A place where brands and consumers can continue their aftermarket affiliation for decisive insight for both,” Reuvers explains.
Most striking is the mutual win-win proposition that emerges in the post-sales process—one where retailers and manufacturers hope to monetize enduring post-purchase relationships and where consumers are quite prepared to pay for quality parts, service and upgrades…so long as their ownership experience is easy and founded on a shared responsibility for that product.
The report highlights three key questions every CMO needs to ask in order to optimize the ownership experience:
- Does the organization have access to and insight on the points of engagement and connection beyond the point of sale?
- Is there a central repository of information where consumers can collect receipts, warranty details, service plans and the vital details of their ownership relationship with the brand?
- Does the organization have a comprehensive assessment of the ownership experience and where new opportunities exist?
In order to help answer these key questions, the CMO Council has partnered with LiveTechnology to develop a product ownership experience assessment to identify where and how a brand’s ownership experience has taken shape, and evaluate aftermarket service effectiveness.
Insights were gathered from more than 2,000 North American homeowners by Pollfish in the second quarter of 2017. The 14-question online insight poll was conducted in May 2017 and asked about the post-purchase experience specific to any home appliances, power tools, electronics and other durable products acquired during the previous 12 months.