First published in July 2015
In India, service is the sales argument par excellence – especially with regard to expensive, high-quality products from abroad. The biggest challenge for both, exporters of products (in need of service) to India and for companies producing in India, is to offer a comprehensive on-site customer service – that is, an After Sales Service in India.
Organizing an After Sales Service depends, first and foremost, on the type of product being exported to India. For instance, exporting simple, uncomplex products usually requires only telephone consultation or, if necessary, spare part order and delivery. Complex products or customer-specific solutions, on the other hand, require either constant maintenance or individual solutions and repairs on-site in India – which, due to the enormous size of the subcontinent of India, poses a major challenge. In this context, the so-called Annual Maintenance Contracts (AMC) are very common, stipulating a prompt and comprehensive After Sales Service (if necessary including spare parts) on the part of the manufacturer.
It is almost impossible to satisfactorily arrange an After-Sales Service in India, from abroad, by delegating technical personnel from the headquarters to India. Apart from high costs, the quality of service is, due to longer response times, mostly substandard. However, After Sales Service can either be outsourced to an external dealer or implemented with an own establishment in India.
Outsourcing After Sales Service in India to an Indian Dealer
After Sales Service, just like installation and startup services in India, can be outsourced to an Indian partner – irrespective of whether or not a foreign company is already represented with an own office in India. On one hand, exporters can benefit from Indian dealers being already established on the Indian market and their existing customer network. On the other hand, it is not guaranteed that Indian dealers have the technical and product-specific know-how to offer a proper After-Sales Service. Moreover, it needs to be established how to protect sensitive knowledge and how to contractually arrange the partnership, to ensure that all services rendered fulfill the expectations of the foreign company, and can be measured and checked accordingly. Another crucial point that should be discussed beforehand is the spare parts supply. To avoid delays due to separate exports of spare parts from abroad, spare parts warehouses in India are a must.
After Sales Service in India with own Establishment
Handling the Indian market with local dealers and partners might prove successful, but it is not the ideal solution for long-term India commitments – especially when dealing with products in need of service. For those who want to reach sustainable success in India, they should themselves be permanently present and available in India, to ensure competent distribution of one’s products and a comprehensive After-Sales Service. This is because you do not want to lose customers that you have won over with your high-quality products, only as a result of poor and negligent After-Sales Service!
Own sales and service offices enable foreign companies to provide – at least on a regional level – After-Sales Service in India, performed by one’s own personnel. Furthermore, the service personnel are familiar with the products and can be managed directly by the foreign company; hence, the quality of the After-Sales Service in India can be overseen and controlled first-hand. Due to India’s size and regional differences, however, getting an external dealer involved is usually, nonetheless, inevitable to guarantee nationwide service. Then again, own network and service structures facilitate improved collaboration with and control of one’s partners – not in the least due to the unfiltered customer feedback.
Above all, distribution and warehousing can be carried out as well – with one’s own personnel. And, managing spare parts delivery and storage must then be organized for India only – and not spanning across continents. The comparatively high financial costs and huge organizational efforts are best championed by combining distribution and service. When purchasing products, Indian customers are notoriously keen on services and long-term maintenance contracts – this does not necessarily imply higher costs for the manufacturer, but if handled correctly, this bears great potential: for instance, purchasing a product can be tied to an Annual Maintenance Contract, which is not only very lucrative financially but also improves customer relations.
Maier+Vidorno helps you find the right solution for your Administration and After Sales Service in India – feel free to contact us!
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