labels: advertising/branding
To bond with customers call Service 007 news
Venkatachari Jagannathan
25 February 2002
Chennai: Hello brand-owner, is your after sales service revenue on the downslide? Are you not in a position to closely monitor your service department personnel? Do you want to mine mission-critical information from the maze of data available on your service engineers call sheets? More importantly do you want to bond with your customers for a long time to come? Then call in Service 007. Or Naresh Purushotham.

Well, Purushotham is neither a corporate spy nor a sleuth detecting white- or blue-collar frauds. He is the managing director of Customerbroadcast, a neutral infomediary between brand owners or companies and their customers, offering a combination of CRM and call-centre services.

Some MNCs (Sony, Grunfos and Siemens Medical Solutions) and Indian companies (Sumeet Mixie, Parryware and Sundaram Home Finance) have already hired his services, branded as Service 007. Companies, or brand-owners as Purushotham calls them, earn handsome margins on spares and services. A dent in that activity will be a major hit on a companys bottomline.

He says 96 per cent of dissatisfied customers do not complain. But on an average a customer tells 10 people about his problem with a company. Poor after sales service makes 65 per cent of the brand-users to switch brand loyalties. "But a majority of them will come back if their complaint is handled satisfactorily," Purushotham says. "These days it is the company, and not the buyer, who have to be careful."

A switch in brand loyalty will directly affect the brand owner and not the intermediaries in the distribution chain. Realising this, MNCs bestow lots of care in handling customer complaints. So what is that Customerbroadcast offers? It offers a special software to keep track of customer complaints till it is resolved by the brand-owners. The company also keeps itself in the loop by acting as the call and complaint centre.

Starting operations with one client Sumeet Mixie nearly a year ago, Purushotham is a happy man today. Today Customerbroadcast is cash positive and more clients are signing up. Further, he is confident of getting a second round of funding. Says he: "Ernst and Young is talking with a couple of investors."

A cursory glace at Customerbroadcasts client portfolio will reveal a mix of brand-users that are individuals and commercial establishments.  "It is the commercial segment which helps us to generate revenues fast and build a strong foundation," he says. About the competition posed by call centres, which offer value-added services like following up a customer complaint till it is closed, Purushotham says there is no other player in Customerbroadcasts domain.

"Our USP is our software that mines data and interprets the same. From the data generated, we can find out the performance of a service engineer and the equipment. One can decide whether a particular service engineer needs training or the equipment needs to be redesigned. Pure play call centres are suitable for low-value, high-volume, plain-vanilla service. Unlike call centres, our service is web-enabled. We are also planning to use SMS to inform our clients service engineers about a customer complaint," he says.

Customerbroadcast is now planning to do the dealer rating service to consumer durable companies as a value-added offering. Under this scheme, immediately on receipt of sale information from a consumer durable dealer, Customerbroadcast will call the brand-user to find out his shopping experience on different parameters.

Typically Customerbroadcast signs up a two-year agreement with a brand-owner. Starting its operations on a transaction-based revenue model, Purushotham soon changed over to an annual flat-fee structure. The service charge depends on the kind of service the brand-owner wants shared resource or dedicated resource. "We charge a fixed annual rate and also a user-charge for using our software," he says.

Customerbroadcast has established assistance centres in 21 major cities in India. "As calls made within 200 kms can be considered a local call, I can say that the 21 centres effectively cover more than 200 cities," Purushotham says.

Further, with the reduction in STD rates, he is negotiating with private basic telephone service providers like Bharti to get a favourable tariff plan. "If we get a favourable tariff structure, which includes long-distance calls and web-connectivity, then we may close down all the centres and have one big centre in Chennai."

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