Michaud The Importance Of Service In Covid-19 Times: Part 2
Laurent Michaud gives us an update on his boutique, and the current health situation. Part 2.
Laurent Michaud, who has run the Michaud boutique in Neuchâtel alongside his sister Marie-Maude since 2010, kindly agreed to answer our questions; about the shop, about Covid-19, and about the relationship between the boutique and its (local) clientele.
Laurent Michaud © Michaud
After-sales service is a significant factor in a purchasing decision, particularly for a local clientele. How does the after-sales service at Michaud set you apart from other retailers?
We’ve had our own after-sales service Atelier for a number of years, employing a watchmaker who is approved to work on such prestigious brands as Rolex, Tudor, Cartier, IWC and many others. Our partner, Rolex, carries out regular inspections thanks to which we retain our status as a Rolex Official After-Sales Service Center. Equipment is regularly updated as are the various procedures. Watches are serviced at the boutique, which generally reduces wait time for the customer. Our watchmaker also spends part of his time in the shop, where he can talk with customers and explain the technical details of a service should they wish.
We have the privilege to represent a dozen watch brands, thanks to which our customers can bring us their various watches for regular servicing. We also act as an intermediary for brands we don’t carry, including Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Breguet and Omega. We provide our customers with certain facilities such as sending their timepiece to these brands’ after-sales service.
After-sales is an essential service yet all too often retailers, and even brands, underestimate its importance. Some of our customers bought their watch over 20 or 30 years ago and continue to bring it for regular services or for a battery replacement, because they still wear it. How often has a customer brought his or her watch to the boutique for a service and decided to treat themselves while they were there. How many customers have we helped with after-sales, often for watches that weren’t purchased from us, and they have ended up becoming very good customers for the boutique.
Rolex © WorldTempus/Jordy Bellido
Why should customers prefer Michaud’s after-sales service over that of the brands? What’s your added value?
As I mentioned, the customer has the same intermediary for their Rolex, their Audemars Piguet, their Hublot, etc. There’s also the fact that the majority of boutiques are in Geneva or Zurich and for an individual customer, sending a watch for servicing is always a complex procedure. We take care of all that on our customers’ behalf; some of the work will be carried out in our Atelier and the rest will be subcontracted directly to the brands. It’s extremely time-consuming and barely profitable, but it’s a service we are happy to provide. You don’t just sell a watch and that’s the end of the matter.
Hublot © WorldTempus/Jordy Bellido
In your opinion, what will change for retailers after Covid-19 and what will stay the same as before?
It’s very hard to say. This crisis has made profound changes to our lives at every level.
Neuchâtel boutique © WorldTempus/Jordy Bellido
What can retailers offer their customers in the future? What else can they do to win their business?
There are two models. Some groups or brands are moving to vertical integration for complete control of the distribution chain and increased profitability, and because they want to interact directly with the end customer. Others continue to work with a trusted network of multibrand retailers around the world who have been instrumental in helping these brands grow. I’m convinced that multibrand watch retailers have a bright future, even though the competition is tough. It’s a distinct advantage to be able to provide customers with a choice, the opportunity to compare several brands, and recognition for all the watches he or she has acquired throughout their lifetime.
It’s also about the trust that builds between the customer and the retailer. We represent the fourth generation at the head of Bijouterie Michaud. Certain of our customers purchased their first watch from our grandfather, Edouard Michaud, and no doubt we’ll be serving their children and grandchildren. For many of our customers, this counts for a lot.