It’s not enough to have a great looking screen, as many retailers have found. Customers still return new HDTVs by the boatload. So retailers are looking for ways to help keep the new HDTV at home once it gets there. And some manufacturers recognize this as an opportunity to support their retailers, so they are creating new services for their customers. One prime example of this is Sharp’s new program, AQUOS Advantage, which was announced on Wednesday. This free program provides “expanded customer support” for anyone who purchases a Sharp AQUOS LCD HDTV 42″ or larger.
Registered customers gain access to “AQUOS Advantage Advisors” who are trained to help with questions about initial product setup and optimizing set adjustments. Members will receive priority repair services, and according to the company release, “if a television is removed for repair, the customer may be provided with a loaner TV until the repair is complete.” Note that the word “may” is not much of a guarantee, but it does indicate some willingness to try.
Of course, it could be argued that Sharp is merely providing the level of support that you might expect to get for any purchase that costs a few thousand dollars. For now, it may be that the company can gain a competitive advantage by offering “exclusive” services such as these, but don’t be surprised if you start hearing other companies talking about how great their service is for their customers. As the quality differences between the products get more difficult to see, the companies will have to rely on service and other factors to differentiate their products from the competition.