The ‘Celebrity Warranty’. Do you offer it with your product yet?
Here’s a reality check from the future, a future which is coming to a business like yours in just over 6 weeks. This future is called “2015” and yes, it’s coming fast. You need to get your business ready now, by offering a Celebrity Warranty on your product(s).
“As a business owner in 2015, do not stick rigidly with the ‘terms and conditions’ laid out in your product’s warranty. If you do, then bad things will happen. Very bad things. I should know, it happened to me.” -Jon Ryan
Now, I understand that not sticking with your warranty might sound counter-intuitive, after all isn’t that what a warranty is for? To avoid exposure? Well, maybe that’s what it was for 4 years ago. Back then, in the years prior to social media virality, it served a purpose. Now though, a warranty is not worth the paper it’s written on. Instead, it’s all about creating wiggle-room to keep both you and your customer happy in the event of things going pear-shaped. You see, in 2015, more than ever before, you will need to know how to negotiate the grey-space that lies between maintaining your reputation while minimising unforecasted spend.
Let’s illustrate with one example of a typical warranty term, albeit in plain English:
If your customer’s warranty period expires, then you can stop helping them.
Well, isn’t that nice. Permission granted from a piece of paper. Yes, you can now safely brush your customer off “because it says it in the Terms and Conditions”. Time is money after all and you prefer shiny new customers, not those old ones, right? Great, at least that’s covered then. The thing is, if you adopt this attitude, then word-of- mouth will spread… and not the good kind either. No, that word-of-mouth will invariably portray your business as being average, at best. And average, as you well know, means that your business may as well not exist.
You see, it does not matter that the warranty information is laid out clearly on your website. Nor does it matter that the customer should have read the Warranty Terms & Conditions before purchasing their product. And as for those Terms and Conditions being legally binding? Well, yes of course that matters, if the time has come to initiate litigation. But if you’ve reached that point with a customer, you’ve already lost anything worth defending. You should have helped that customer long ago.
The reality is that customers don’t read those warranty terms and conditions in the first place. They never did in the past and they’re certainly not going to start now. Even though you had a nice legalese phrase in your warranty. In bold. Everything’s happening much too fast for all that reading. What’s even more frustrating (for business owners) is that even when customers do read the warranty, they pay no heed to it!
The point is this; if you stop supporting your customers and cite pre-formatted responses which you’ve learned over the years (and which used to successfully keep your customer ‘quiet‘), your customers will remember you for that. They will then tell people. Lots and lots of people. That’s the way it has always worked, it’s just that it happens so much faster now and at an exponentially larger scale. You see, now they have their Twitter machines and their FaceTubes, or whatever you call them, for spreading the word.
Enough about the problem, let’s talk about the solution and what you can do about it.
Unless it’s going to cost you a small fortune, keep supporting your customer. You be the judge of when the customer is asking for more than what’s fair; don’t refer them to a soul-destroying warranty document. Please. That’s playing the corporate game, and you don’t want to lose your ‘personal touch’ advantage. I’m not suggesting that you perform any additional support for free. No, nothing’s free now. But instead of chasing fees, you need to:
- Let the customer know that you’re going over-and-above any ‘warranty terms and conditions’
- Let the customer know that you’re making a special case for them
- Let the customer know that your extra dedication, while costing nothing, is not without some compromise
The customer needs to accept their role in the ‘Celebrity Warranty’.
That’s all fine, but what is a Celebrity Warranty? Simple. A celebrity warranty is created by treating each and every customer like they are, let me see… Beyoncé, or some such world-renowned superstar. And why wouldn’t you. With the ever increasing use of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all the other social media platforms, each and every customer may as well be Beyoncé. You see, each and every action that you take in dealing with your customers is now just 6 clicks away from going viral. If something happens to make your business go viral, you’ll want your story to be ‘viral-good’, as opposed to, well, the other kind of viral.
So instead of charging the customer for any extra ‘out-of-warranty’ work that you’ll provide, give your customer the means to promote you. This could mean sending them a handful of website links where you ask them to review your business; letting other people know just how fantastic you are. It might be asking them to write a spectacular testimonial that you can place on your website, or theirs. It could be asking them to tell their cousin (who happens to work in the local radio station) about what you’ve done.
You should know all these things by now; you’ve done your customer-profiling homework after all. Haven’t you?
This ‘Celebrity Warranty’, while shameless, can be worth a lot more to you than the fee you would like to have charged when the original ‘out-of-warranty’ scenario landed on your doorstep. Providing non-cash methods to increase positive sentiment towards our business is imperative. You’ll be surprised how effective it can be. I should know, it happened to me.
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