Watches are challenging to service for any company, with customers spread across the globe. Factor into that jewellery watches and jewellery and the complexity multiplies.
Europa Star caught up with Xavier Yerly, Group Customer Service Manager Chopard, to find out more about how the company handles service to its watches, jewellery watches and jewellery.
“Clients are our most valuable asset,” Yerly says. “Therefore, the entire Chopard after sales team takes all necessary measures and steps to provide the best possible experience in order to guarantee and maintain 100% customer satisfaction. Our first objective is to deliver flawless and prompt service. The profit of quality customer service is satisfaction, and hence, customer loyalty. We analyse cost/time efficiency to constantly improve internal workflows and turnaround time.
Each of Chopard’s 15 subsidiaries across the globe has an integrated service centre with the capacity and craftsmanship skills to meet the volume and area needs for their market. Around 10 per cent of the total pieces serviced worldwide are serviced in Switzerland (e.g. complicated manufacture L.U.C timepieces or high jewellery).
“Local customer service centres allow us to take advantage of the customers’ proximity, while greatly improving service turnaround time.”
Additionally, Chopard’s external network of more than 50 independent workshops/centres service roughly 30 per cent of the global volume. Chopard would prefer to service watches and jewellery in the same region where the customers live. “Local customer service centres allow us to take advantage of the customers’ proximity, while greatly improving service turnaround time,” says Yerly. “We support, train, equip and maintain close contact with our official Chopard Service centres globally. Each country is supported by one of our 15 subsidiaries, therefore, if the country doesn’t have a service centre, the piece is sent to one of the subsidiaries, if not to our headquarters in Geneva.”
Chopard has a long tradition of complicated mechanical watches, and each of these watches will have to receive service, requiring a commitment from Chopard to stocking parts and having the watchmakers necessary. “It is indeed challenging to source skilled technicians, as true experts capable of servicing all types of mechanical watches are very rare,” Yerly admits. “However, thanks to the effort and commitment made by Chopard, we are able to train new talent and attract specialists, offering them opportunities such as a dedicated apprenticeship or specialised training courses.
“The movement of a Chopard watch deserves particular care,” he continues. “In order to guarantee its performance, it must be serviced regularly (or at least when the watch’s going rate deteriorates) by an official Chopard service centre. We kindly recommend having the water resistance of a Chopard watch tested once a year or before engaging in any prolonged aquatic activity.”
Having diamonds or other gemstones on a watch adds more service issues to prepare for and requires the specific technicians to do the work, as watchmakers are not stone setters. “Upon reception in one of our Official Chopard Service Centres, an analysis is conducted by a technician in order to determine the issue at hand,” Yerly details. “If the issue with the stones appears to be a manufacturing default, Chopard provides an international warranty of two years. If the cause appears to derive from mishandling, an estimate will be provided to the client within 24 to 48 hours, detailing the necessary and optional actions recommended to fix it.
“As Chopard is a company that prides itself on both its high jewellery and fine watchmaking expertise, we often love to marry the two worlds with our creations,” he continues. “More and more we are creating high jewellery watches that are matched with a sophisticated and complicated watch movement. It is only fitting that these pieces are just as intricately designed on the outside as they are on the inside. The technique of gem setting timepieces requires exquisite artisanal skills from experienced setters. There are very few experts capable of such a savoir-faire, therefore it is a métier d’art.”
Servicing these pieces becomes exponentially more difficult, as only the master gem setters can address problems on these high jewellery timepieces.
Unlike watches, there is no recommended service interval for jewellery. Usually, jewellery pieces are sent in for service when customers wish to have them polished and put back to their original condition. Chopard suggests that customers periodically check the settings and clean their pieces with a soft brush to maintain the shine.
“More and more we are creating high jewellery watches that are matched with a sophisticated and complicated watch movement.”
Chopard keeps the workshops for watches and jewellery service separate, as different skills are required. “The areas and technicians are, in most cases, specific for each type of skill set (i.e. jewellers/watchmakers/polishers, etc.), for both practical and technical reasons,” Yerly explains. “The effective time needed to service or restore our products, could vary significantly depending on the type (watches/jewellery), its level of complexity and the tasks needed to fix it. However, two to five hours, on average, are usually sufficient for the technicians, to carry out most of the services, in addition, a couple of days will be taken to control all the functions of the piece. The average turnaround time for a service is around 10 to 20 calendar days.” The handling, packaging and shipping of high jewellery pieces requires special attention, skills and knowledge. Specific training is given to the customer service teams handling these pieces.
Handling the service needs of high-end timepieces, high jewellery watches and jewellery is more complicated, necessitating two complete staffs, two service areas in every service centre and more. Chopard, however, understands the need for excellent after-sales service. “We truly believe that the client relationship only begins with the purchase and we are committed to building lifetime loyalty to the brand,” Yerly states. “After sales service is an opportunity to nurture positive client relationships, build up brand fidelity by fulfilling expectations, and potentially acquire new sales. Chopard is continually investing in training of its apprentices as well as other activities and equipment to guarantee long term service, which makes all the difference.”
Source: Europa Star October - November 2013 Magazine Issue