Developing Healthy Customer And Brands Relationship.
Buddies, India is a growing market and growth can be translated in terms of increase of resources, increase in number of choices and change in customer/consumer’s taste. Consumers in India are becoming informed day by day with help of media tools like Internet and TV and social platforms like Twitter and Facebook about various products and brands existing in our market and the development of advertising platforms has given them ample room to choose and select the best product out of the lot that suits their needs. As we are an automotive platform hence, my article shall be confined to automotive brands and accessories brands that are often used in both 2 and 4 wheeler.
When a customer starts his/her search for buying a vehicle the first thing that customer checks out is the budget and once that is set, the next step is to search the brands which offer the product in the set budget. While choosing the brand, customer often wants to associate with a reliable brand and the reliability is often established with help of reviews about the brand existing on social media platforms. The reviews provide an insight into the brands and help the customer decide whether he/she wants to associate to it or not. Social media in today’s time plays an important role in building and sustaining customer’s relation with a brand because social media is an easily accessible platform which helps the customers to voice their opinions about the brands and products in the long run. Social media today has become a consumer/brands most sort after and economic way to reach out to maximum number of audience/markets.
With help of the social media platforms the brands listen to the views of the customers and try to improve on their products and R&D procedures so as to give the best possible end-to-end solutions. However, not every brand is as vocal of its shortcomings as others are and such brands often refuse/reject customers views and this leads to the fall of the brand in the market gradually. Being vocal with the customers helps the brand to develop further because in a market like India which is highly customer centric, the opinions of the general public holds immense importance as the general public is the end-user. I as a person have experienced both type of brands, i.e one who listen and address the shortcomings and others who look for an opportunity to escape from questions.
When a customer invests his/her hard earned money in purchasing a car/bike worth thousands and lacs then it should be of prime importance to the auto-brands to address the customer’s concerns on priority. In India, there are some really non-customer centric brands and go-forbid if you ever have to deal with them, the experience turns out to be the most bitter one. Thus, the only resort left is the use of social media which makes such brands repent and address the concerns out of pressure. I do believe, such situations can be actually avoided if the brands become more customer friendly by informing and sharing info of their upcoming/existing products in a more open manner like prior to launch they can showcase their products and conduct online workshops with the target customers so that the brands will get better ideas to improvise their products and provide the end-customer with a highly accurate and reliable product.
There are number of instances where customers had to ultimately raise their concerns with regards to products purchased online or even in person with customer grievances forums to resolve and ultimately it was found that the brand was at fault. So to avoid this unpleasantness the brands and customer should go hand in hand as to mark a long lasting respectable relationship. When a brand offers its products in a designated market and to a specific target audience it should make sure that all parameters are in-line with the tastes/demands of the customer. Most of the problems arise when the products fail to fulfill the demands of the customers either in performance or reliability or the most important aspect i.e after sales services. Customers who buy expensive products often have to face the issues with after sales and huge investment made in repairs. So, every brand in my opinion that is existing in India should provide an accessible and economically viable alternative to customers with use social platforms where in maintaining the product is not a pain for the customer. Some brands have initiated this process but at present the scope is pretty small and still customers are running back and forth for settling their issues with regards to brands and their products. Once a customer friendly platform is set by the brands, they’ll have better reputation, more customer base, more transparency in dealings.
In the light of building a healthy and friendly customer and brand relation, I have thought of few suggestions:
• Brands to be more transparent and vocal in showcasing upcoming products to target customers on social media as well as in flesh.
• The brands should not restrict enthusiasts in checking out the upcoming products of the brands.
• Customers on the other hand, should provide valid reason for doubting on the brand’s credentials.
• One should also believe his/her own eyes apart from the word of mouth about the brand.
• Brands should not harass the customer by unnecessary finding short coming from customer’s end.
• After-sales and services of online portals dealing in auto-products should be friendlier to customers as the dealing is primarily all virtual. Prior to purchasing online, the customers often don’t see the product in flesh so it becomes imperative for the portal to build and honor customer’s trust in them.
• In case of any issue, pro-actively the brands should come to customer’s help and provide best possible solution in real-time.
• Customers should not blindly buy a product based on brand’s value they should compare products of all brands in specific segment and then decide on the best one.
• The Terms and Conditions of purchase should be clearly stated for the benefit of customers. Vague and Ambiguous conditions with hidden intentions don’t make the brands survive for long.
• The executives and professionals dealing in the brand/product should have proper knowledge of the product because they are the face of the brand and if they fail in providing accurate information of the product, then down the line, sales and reputation of the brands start to decline.
• Customers need to keep a thorough check on their dealings so that once the deal closes, there is no question left in the minds of customer.
So friends, I believe if we as customers keep in mind the above type of suggestions and even the brands follow such friendly suggestions, then building of a harmonious and healthy customer-brand relationship will not be difficult at all.