19 Oct 2015 20:07 IST

Service, the differentiator for alike products

From left: Mithun Sacheti, co-founder and CEO at Caratlane, moderator Ramkumar L, Managing Director at Tube Investments of India and Grocermax's K Radhakrishnan
From left: Mithun Sacheti, co-founder and CEO at Caratlane, moderator Ramkumar L, Managing Director at Tube Investments of India and Grocermax's K Radhakrishnan

If done well, this leads to the creation of a successful digital brand, say panel

When a product cannot be distinguished from others of its ilk sold by different suppliers, marketers need to focus on service, and aim at creating a service brand instead. Its importance cannot be ignored, especially in the case of online retail, where the future of retail seems to lie. For, here, the purchase decision heavily rests on service delivery: the product’s journey from screen to the customer’s hands.

If done well, this leads to the creation of a successful digital brand.

Service as a brand

Recognising the importance of the service brand experience and its impact on creating a digital brand, the recently held 14th MMA All-India Management Students’ Convention organised by the Madras Management Association (MMA), in Chennai, saw co-founder of Grocermax K Radhakrishnan and Mithun Sacheti, co-founder and CEO at Caratlane, speak on the subjects. The sessions were moderated by Ramkumar L, Managing Director at Tube Investments of India.

Read about the inauguration

“Service is valued more and more as countries prosper. And service is all about experience, people need to feel good about it,” said L Ramkumar. To elaborate on this, he spoke about his experience selling Hercules and BSA bicycles. Around 10 years ago, they realised that selling cycles was not enough. It was important to reinvent the way they were sold. So, they decided to open bicycle stores where people could not only buy cycles, but also learn more about them. Some stores have professional cyclists who educate people and address the needs of other professional cyclists. “We created or elevated the sales experience for the customer,” he added.

Session on how to brand a commodity and turn it into a premium product

With the advent of e-commerce, this can be done more effectively. Today there is a way to know exactly who is buying what and when. So, one can position their business’ online activity accordingly and tailor the service to it, he said.

Customer engagement

“Service is a mindset, it’s a value proposition you create in the minds of the customer. Company adds cost, consumer adds value,” added Grocermax’s K Radhakrishnan, “And online this involves displaying trust at every stage of transaction,” he added. Apart from service, a product needs seamless customer engagement to succeed in the market, he added. And customers can be pleased enough to give testimonials if you treat them well.

Personal branding is who you are

Caratlane’s Mithun Sacheti spoke about the experience of customer engagement towards building a strong digital brand. “Around 23 per cent of consumers give testimonials,” he said. Testimonials are very important because they attract more customers and improve brand presence. But how does one make sure that the service was memorable?

“On Valentine’s Day, we decided to create the customer experience for our employees. Each of them found a handwritten note along with a product they liked on their desks as a gift,” he said. “The goal was to tell them how much we valued them.” And they went on to tweet and share these on social media, thereby spreading the word. “Relationship building started on the inside for us,” he added.

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At Caratlane, they realised that their employees first needed to feel invested in this brand promise. For only then would the employees be motivated to serve customers well and build relationships with them.

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