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Turn service guarantee into a marketing tool

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Surveys show that consumers believe business services are worse than ever. That makes it easier for a top-notch service guarantee to stand out as a drawing point for your product.

Good service guarantees produce loyal customers. They can give you an edge on competitors because most businesses’ guarantee policies are meaningless or confusing.

However, many policies inadvertently turn off customers. Here are four lessons:

1. Don’t complicate guarantees with fine print and lots of different conditions. One Fortune 500 company’s guarantee contains more than 20 conditions under which the guarantee doesn’t apply.

2. Avoid vague promises. Examples include “fast delivery,” “totally satisfied” and “complete satisfaction.” Make policy promises concise and simple.

Example from Time Warner Cable: “Time Warner Cable guarantees any billing problem will be corrected the first time you call or your next month is free. Time Warner Cable guarantees to credit your account for major service interruption in excess of four hours, upon request.”

3. Make it easy for customers to invoke service guarantees. Some companies require customers to fill out several forms, talk to several departments and answer many questions about the reason they’re invoking the guarantee. Advice: Require customers to write or call only one person or department to secure the guarantee.

4. Offer unconditional guarantees. Guarantee everything you can control, such as service, repairs and quality. Conversely, don’t place numerous conditions on aspects you can’t control.

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