Device owners want a unified customer experience, says Sreevathsa Prabhakar of Servify

Speaking at TechSparks 2023 Mumbai edition, Sreevathsa Prabhakar, Founder and CEO of Servify, reveals the importance of offering device owners a complete customer experience, not one that’s limited to point of sale.

Device owners want a unified customer experience, says Sreevathsa Prabhakar of Servify

Thursday April 06, 2023,

4 min Read

Sreevathsa Prabhakar, Founder and CEO of Servify, has over the last decade seen the change in the device industry first-hand. His last corporate stint was at Nokia, which had over 40% market share globally in 2008. Over the next few years, the device industry saw many other options. In the early 2000s, India had about 80 million mobile phone subscribers. Today it is over 900 million.

Speaking at TechSparks 2023 Mumbai edition, he said businesses focused on distribution of products until 2009-2010.

“Anything thereafter, [there was] a liability of one year, the so-called manufacturer's warranty,” he explained at a discussion on ‘Elevating the customer journey for device owners’.

But with devices and gadgets becoming an integral part of our personal lives, manufacturers began to look at them in a different light. After-sales services and customer experiences started gaining prominence.

“Your phone is not just a communication device; it's a content platform. It's a commerce platform, and it's part of your lives. Consumers are willing to pay a subscription to keep them up to date - that’s why Servify decided to work with OEMs, or original equipment manufacturers,” Prabhakar said. 

A ‘one-company approach’ 

Many companies are now realising the importance of offering a complete experience, not just at point of sale. Say a customer’s TV stops working. They call the call centre, raise a request, and wait for a technician’s visit. But if the service team is not integrated with the call centre team, the technician won’t know what the problem is till they arrive at the customer’s place. This makes a “one-company approach” vital from design to end of life.

Prabhakar said many successful companies are now stitching the process together. “That’s where we come in - from the point of sale to the end of life,” he said.  

He gave the example of Apple to elaborate on the need to offer a unified experience. “When the iPhone was launched, people started looking at after-sales as a revenue opportunity. Today, Apple Care is a $16 billion business, the second largest profit pool for Apple. Apple [will] charge you, but [will] ensure you get a great experience. So, there is a huge opportunity,” he said. 

With companies today figuring out where they need to create impact as a brand, Prabhakar believes that the bigger challenge is to retain brand value.

Brands often launch new models to remain competitive, but they must maintain their reputation to stay relevant. This is why sales and after-sales are the bigger challenges today.

The Servify growth story 

Stitching services is not core to a lot of companies, which is the gap Servify is filling.

Servify is present in 130,000 outlets today, selling device care much like Apple Care or Samsung Care. The service is white-labelled by brands, but the product belongs to Servify.

“I think the first thing we are telling brands is that they have multiple revenue opportunities, including selling hardware and selling services. The latter is what most OEMs have never focused on, and we are saying we will bring that opportunity to you,” Prabhakar said.

The Servify founder added that if a company is promising future service for a damage incident, it comes under insurance – necessitating requisite licences. Servify completes this long process for brands.

It also helps build technology to ensure underwriting real time by creating contracts in the system and passing on all commissions to relevant parties that are involved, including the retail partner to OEM as royalty, etc.

“When the customer comes with a claim, we work on getting the entire after-sales service ecosystem on a common platform. That's the value that we deliver. The business that we are in, it's about a $150 billion business,” he said.

From a buying model to a subscription model 

When it comes to future trends, Prabhakar believes more brands will push for subscriptions of digital IDs like an Apple ID or a Samsung ID. He said OEMs are focusing on subscriptions for their services like a monthly free model. In those situations, customers will get upgrades whenever there is a new launch.

“I think that's where the market is moving - from a buying model to a subscription model, and from a one-time purchase to an evergreen subscription model,” Prabhakar said.