From a marketing point of view, after-sales service itself is also a means of promotion. It can not only maintain customers and achieve re-sales, but also increase the brand influence of the company.
In recent years, Internet mobile phone manufacturers in the Red Sea have enriched their online experience, and their tentacles have also begun to extend offline, opening experience stores, deploying after-sales systems, and so on.
At the end of 2020, Apple also quietly reorganized its after-sales service system, introducing the IRP Program (Independent Repair Service Provider) program established in Europe and the United States last year into China, and Hi Repair became the first cooperative brand.
Interestingly, this news was sent from the Hi maintenance official, not from Apple. The IRP project that entered China is very low-key.
Prior to this, Apple's after-sales service system was divided into two types, one is directly operated stores, which is the genius of Apple Store, and the other is authorized repair center (AASP).
However, relatively speaking, the coverage of the current Apple service system is not wide enough. The resources are mostly concentrated in first- and second-tier cities and cannot reach more people. After Apple's IRP project enters China, it appears initially, will this situation be gradually improved?
What is the Apple IRP Program service?
Apple IRP-Program refers to the Independent Repair Service Provider Program (hereinafter referred to as IRP). According to the official statement, “Apple will provide more independent repairers regardless of size or size with the same original parts and components used by Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASP). Tools, training, maintenance manuals and diagnostic tools.
In 2019, Apple took the lead in launching IRP services in the United States, aiming to expand the official after-sales service system. Apple-certified third-party repairers provide services similar to Apple Store and AASP, and support replacement and repair of original parts without affecting the official Apple warranty of the repaired device.
In one year, Apple has expanded its IRP service to Europe and Canada. It also stated that the number of authorized dealers providing after-sales service in the United States has tripled, covering millions of users.
On the surface, the IRP service is to make up for the coverage of the Apple Store and authorized service providers, while providing the same service. Not surprisingly, the repair price will be consistent with the official.
Judging from the information provided by Apple's US official website, the cost of IRP certification is not high, but the key lies in whether the qualification can meet Apple's requirements. According to Hi Maintenance, Apple has been investigating and researching for a long time, and finally "recognized Hi Maintenance's service concept and vision values."
IRP enters China, will it be more convenient to repair iPhone?
Previously, Apple's IRP service was limited to North America and Europe, and the cooperation with Hi Repair was the beginning of opening up new markets. Will IRP make repairing iPhone more convenient?
According to the introduction of Hi Maintenance's official website, Hi Maintenance, established in 2015, is an O2O service provider that supports on-site repair and recycling of mobile phones. Currently, the service covers 30 large and medium-sized cities with vertical control and no franchisees.
In terms of coverage, it has a high degree of overlap with Apple Store and existing authorized service providers. At this stage, it does not sink to third- and fourth-tier cities. Moreover, from the perspective of the WeChat applet, the official Apple accessories now provided are only the original battery of the iPhone, but the price is cheaper than the official one, but other items have not yet been opened. This is also similar to the US IRP service in the initial stage, starting with iPhone batteries and slowly expanding to product lines such as Mac and iPad.
▲ The official repair project is only for iPhone, and Mac products are not yet involved. Picture from: Hi Repair
After becoming a certified repairer of Apple's IRP project, it means that the equipment that has been repaired by Hi (provided that official accessories are selected) can be checked on Apple's official website. Moreover, few manufacturers can provide the experience of "official" door-to-door maintenance.
In a sense, Hi maintenance has indeed brought us convenience and even increased the willingness to choose this type of IRP service. After all, it is the most comfortable to stay at home in this weather.
Previously, Apple’s authorized service providers were sufficient to cover many areas and would provide many official services, but the reputation was far less than the genius in the Apple Store. Even after the number of Apple Stores expanded, the genius still had difficulty making appointments. Relatively speaking, O2O brands such as Hi Repair pay more attention to consumer reputation, and their prices and effects are more transparent. Perhaps the arrival of IRP may re-establish the reputation of authorized third-party repairs.
In any case, the IRP project does not seem to be harmful to consumers. Instead, it provides us with an official repair channel. More importantly, it can also perform official "non-destructive" repairs at the door.
But is the truth so?
What is Apple's real purpose?
As we know, Apple has a high desire to control its own hardware products and services, and has established a closed ecosystem to keep us in it as much as possible. The same is true for Apple's after-sales system. The introduction of the IRP plan this time is a test of the water, expanding this closed chain and enclosing a wider range of user groups.
Cooperation with Hi Repair is the beginning. In the future, more similar organizations, service providers, and even private repair shops will definitely join in. In the process, Apple’s "official" repairs are likely to gradually sink to Third- and fourth-tier cities that have never been involved will retain more users and will also put some pressure on other manufacturers. After all, this after-sales expansion model is not common.
According to Apple, official repairs are not profitable. In November 2019, Apple's response to the U.S. Congress stated that "since 2009, the annual maintenance service cost has exceeded the revenue generated by the maintenance business." In other words, Apple has lost 10 consecutive years in the after-sales maintenance business.
Indeed, Apple’s in-warranty repairs are indeed very kind. The previous iPhone’s battery replacement program, MacBook’s keyboard replacement program, etc., are basically free of charge if the conditions are met. For Apple's after-sales service, the out-of-warranty maintenance fee may be an income. Of course, if AppleCare+ is also included in the after-sales service, Apple's after-sales service income will rise a lot.
Apple’s timely launch of the IRP project is actually aimed at the big business in the repair parts market. Through the IRP project "collection" of third-party maintenance organizations, Apple then sells them official parts, and the third-party maintenance organizations earn corresponding maintenance fees, thus forming a closed loop. As more maintenance organizations join the IRP program, it means that Apple has a wider control over after-sales maintenance.
It can even be boldly guessed that Apple intends to monopolize batteries and parts, trying to get all repair shops to buy original materials to complete the "big unification". The repair business that has lost ten years is gradually profitable. At this time, it is time to give Cook a praise. . Although it is a bit of a conspiracy theory, it is undeniable that Apple still wants to change the current after-sales situation, perhaps as it wishes?
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