Alex Fourie, founder of iFix knows that a great customer experience must be at the centre of every part of the business.
Alex Fourie is the founder of iFix – a smartphone and device repair service for out-of-warranty gadgets. It’s grown from a dorm room to 14 stores around the country, and services 10 000 clients a month.
What sets this business apart is that 75% of its repairs are through word-of-mouth referral and the company has an issues ratio of less than 2%.
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That’s practically unheard of in the services industry. So how is Fourie getting it right? The short answer is excellent customer service. The longer answer is below.
In the time since launching as a first-mover, to now being a major player, how have you kept ahead of the competition?
The market has grown and changes hugely in the last few years. We carved out a niche by positioning ourselves as a premium services focused on convenience, a great customer experience through service, and fast turnaround time as we understand the frustration of having technology problems or not being connected.
We are continuously looking for ways to innovate and improve our service for a better customer experience, because the minute you stop, someone else will take your spot and the company will suffer.
How has your company changed to improve the customer experience and cope with new competition?
To deliver on our premium service we’ve invested time and resources on systematising and streamlining everything in the business for the best customer experience.
We’ve become vertically integrated and created our own internal supply chain that is centralised and tracked. Compared to 2010 when repairs would take up to 72 hours, today 95% of our repairs are same day/ We also provide spin-off offerings like insurance for out-of-warranty repairs because we’ve identified a gap – networks focus on selling airtime and data, manufacturers focus on selling devices, but there’s a gap for quality repairs that don’t cost a fortune.
With so much business coming from referrals, what goes into an impactful brand experience?
We hire A+ players on all levels even though the systemisation means that the business could operate successfully with B players. A+ players are always five steps ahead in anticipating problems and finding solutions.
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They’re proactive and make decisions without asking for permission first – we’ve empowered them in that way. The system also enables them to anticipate problems before they arise, like being notified when a device has been at the store for more than 24 hours, so they can contact the customer.
We also reverse train our technicians out of their network habits, which is cost-savings first, customer second. Here it’s always customer first. This is achieved through substantial on the job training and living our culture.
What would you say is the secret sauce in successful branding?
I come from a music industry background where I was very involved in marketing bands and their tours. I learnt that the industry is very subjective and driven by marketing: Band A and band B can both release good songs, but one will be more successful than the other and it comes down to the way you package and present the song, album and band.
It’s the same in the services industry and I’ve used that same philosophy for marketing iFix. We put a lot of effort into designing great looking stores, a slick website, active social media presence, and take advantage of brand ambassadors helping spread the word.
At the end of the day, when you’re dealing with people’s prizes possessions, you want to give them a sense of confidence, trust and security in your service quality and promise.