India is witnessing a trend of aggressive pricing and prompt grievance handling in the Smartphone market. Customers want everything from a good phone, value for money along with accessible and painless after-sales service. Evolved customer expectations and preferences have catapulted manufacturers to actively devise strategic ways to offer after-sales services. Earlier, the after-sales service wasn’t of much significance as much as it is today when customer expectations are varied and evolve every day. Today’s customers want long-term associations with brands and hence, to serve the new-age customers, leading IT companies heavily focus on strong distribution networks and establish service centres in every region. While most of them choose to outsource after-sale-services to reduce costs, many Indian players such as Lava, Intex Technologies and Micromax open their own chain of service centres based on the belief that the key to loyal customers is adept after sales services. To dominate and hold a huge market share in the market, Intex, a $950 million enterprise with a two-decade old consumer technology expertise, has equipped itself with a robust after-sales services network. Being one of the major players in mobile handsets, consumer durables and IT accessories, they are heavily focussing on after-sales services for the entire product portfolio from Telecom, to IT and Consumer Durable products including various services, onsite repairs, Installations and PJP i.e. Pre-Journey Plan.
There is a lot of scope for improvement in after-sales services to completely satisfy the customer. There is an emergent need of specialised service centres that offer a consistent customer experience in after-sales and repair services. Sales support to customers and effective management of services is the key to satisfy and retain customers. To satisfy the consumer with respect to after-sales services, Indian companies are discreetly working on their entire ‘service ecosystems’ to satisfy the consumer through their impeccable after sales services. This ecosystem consists of its Customers, its People, Process, Infrastructure, Measurement, Training, Reward & Recognition etc. For example, Intex has launched, implemented and institutionalized various Business Excellence Practices by introducing systematic and structured ways that lead to increased service performance. There is an emergent need to Upscale after sales services in India. Steps must be continuously taken to upscale and expand service network support systems and technology. Intex service centres exceed 1500 service touch points, its C&F partners strength have also reached to around 50 MICPs (Master Intex Care Partner), Pan India & this growth for all kind of service partners has been almost 15% Y-o-Y.
The following are the key focus areas to achieve superlative after sales services:
-Spare Part Management is a key focus area to upscale after sales services. This includes various systemic enhancements and maintaining the entire spare part at the service partner’s front. Strengthening the technological landscape of contact centres by introducing Emulators & Simulators where contact centre agents can simulate various product failures to provide faster resolution to customer queries and ensuring First Time Fix solution. Companies offering After Sales Services are continuously increasing their touch base with distributors, dealers and retailers to take Service related matters as priority.
-Service Excellence Practices, such as GQFD Framework – Governance, Quality, Financial & Delivery framework enables IT companies to truly listen to the customer’s voice and concerns and respond to them in an appropriate manner. This will help convert customer requirements into key business deliverables. This practice is adopted at Master Intex Care Partners. For a superior quality service support, mobile manufacturers must encourage customers to connect to the senior management directly. This connection builds valuable trust and creates a high level of assuredness in them. Along with the above service excellence practices maintaining a Service Excellence Checklist is very crucial – a check list to complete customer experience success.
The future of after sales services
The future of after sales services should be focused on three areas, i.e., Critical to Delivery (CTD), Critical to Quality (CTQ) and Critical to Process (CTP). High focus on Customer Loyalty & retention with Ease, Effectiveness & Emotions. Gearing up to provide Digital and Omni channel Customer experience. Other areas of focus could be Open service systems where there will be Customer Experience by Leadership where top management would be personally involved in meeting and interacting with customers.
Building a strong service network is essential to ensure hassle-free service for all customers. In India, there is a requirement for strong after sales services; therefore, Indian mobile players are striving to offer best after sales services. After-sales services is a key factor in the consumer’s buying decision and plays a critical role in creating new benchmarks to bring the brand closer to its customers. One bad after-sales service experience can drive customers away to other competitors. Therefore, after- sales service is an instrumental component to retain existing customers and keep customer relationship intact, also explore potential customers through good word of mouth. Take Care of your Employees and Customer will take care of you. Brands should focus on their Employees as only an engaged & motivated employee can deliver a superior customer service delivery and happy customers will take care of your brand.