How smartphone makers are improving after-sales in India
Consumers in India are known to make considered purchases. Especially when you talk about smartphones as a product category, a smartphone often isn’t a necessity, but more of a luxury which is a considered purchase. Hence, after-sales becomes a big factor, when a person decides to invest in one.
In the last few years, the smartphone revolution has taken over India and it has reached a fever-pitch. According to Internet giant, Google, which is the maker of Android, the world’s most prevalent mobile operating system India will surpass the US in 2016 with the maximum number of Android users. As you’d imagine, most smartphones in India are powered by Android and most of them are low-cost devices.
Many new brands have entered India in last two years — many from China, some indigenous. After-sales, however, remains a bone of contention for buyers, especially from all these new brands which have often promised a great bang for the buck, but flattered to deceive post the purchase.
The good news, however, is that things are changing at a rapid pace. Smartphone manufacturers are realising thick and fast that they cannot just wing it when it comes down to after-sales because they will face the wrath of the consumer, who is empowered by a powerful tool called social media.
For the longest time, Apple has been perceived as a brand with the best after-sales in the business, which is trouble-free and simple. It is a reputation worth merit because Apple has often offered a seamless after-sales experience, where the company often replaces faulty products no questions asked, instead of just replacing parts.
Smartphone makers are resorting many methods to improve things in India. For instance, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has announced the Mi Pick service, which is being described as ‘a unique home pickup, repair and drop-off after sales service.’
It is a chargeable service for an added cost of Rs 189 covering more than 6076 pin-codes, 597 cities, 29 states and 4 Union Territories.
“With Pick Mi, we are trying to revamp the service model in India and bringing the convenience of e-commerce (doorstep delivery) to the service industry. We have seen positive results for Pick Mi. A large number of people are already using the service regularly in the pilot cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, and we receive a few hundred calls every single day,” said Manu Kumar Jain, head Xiaomi India.
Xiaomi isn’t the only one which is trying to make the after-sales experience as painless as possible. Chinese smartphone maker Oppo, which entered India in 2014 has announced a 2 year extended warranty for every smartphone that is purchased after December 2015.
The Chinese company also offers a service called Mi Protect, which offers protection against accidental damage for a year for a nominal overhead.
Oppo is going one step further. Like Apple, every phone purchased with a defected will be termed dead after purchase and it is also throwing a 6-month warranty for accessories like the charger, battery and even the headset.
“Any new OPPO handset that develops functional defect within the first 30 days of purchase will be termed, as ‘Dead after Purchase’ and the handsets will be replaced automatically. The accessories such as charger, data cable, headset and battery (including internal battery) come with a 6-month warranty.”
Micromax, which owns an online only brand called YU is offering an interesting upgrade offer for buyers of the new Yutopia smartphone. “The assured upgrade program gives any customer buying Yutopia an option to upgrade to Yutopia 2 when the new device is launched in the future. There will be an upgrade window from Yutopia 2 launch date and will offer 40 per cent cashback of value of Yutopia if the customer decides to exchange Yutopia and upgrade to Yutopia 2.
YU already has a doorstep delivery service at hand. In India, it has been the first brand to implement an onsite doorstep service in 283 cities. As a part of this service, the brand offers replacements for in-warranty customers and COD option.
Consumers still don’t feel the ripple effect
For consumers, the good days are yet to come. Most of these announcements are recent and most users haven’t experienced them.
For some even Apple’s service isn’t up to scratch. “The imagine service centre told me that the battery of my iPhone 6+ was draining because Wi-Fi and cellular networks were turned on,” said a disgruntled Gaurav Kapoor, who is a software engineer based out of Bangalore.
The iPhone 6+ can cost in excess of Rs 50,000 which is more than even the average laptop computer, so a mobile phone has to be a considered purchase in a market like India.
It is also worth noting that India is the most expensive market in the world to buy the new iPhone 6S.
For Akshay Agarwal too, Delhi-based blogger, the after-sales for his Xiaomi Redmi 1s smartphone wasn’t ideal. “ I had a bad experience with Xiaomi service. Redmi 1S was in warranty and its motherboard was not working. They took the smartphone to change it and I got the smartphone back after a month,” he said.
Often, despite issues with the device service centres don’t fix the issue with a phone and attribute the problem to physical damage by the user.
“That’s the default answer of all technical queries in India. No one wants to solve problems,” said Saurav Srivastava, who is a graphic designer at an MNC.
Some have faced horror stories where there have been multiple issues with the device and the company has not only refused to fix the problem of an under warranty device but has revised the quote on numerous times and also taken an eternity to fix the phone.
Karan Gupta, who is charted accountant and partner with SP Chopra and Co. had massive issues with Sony after things went awry with his Sony Xperia Z3 compact.
“Basically the problem was that my Sony Xperia Z3 compact had an defect and the phone was known to have a self cracking screen. My screen cracked on its own when the phone was on charge and there was no evidence of physical damage, yet they refused to fix the phone. I was given a quote of Rs 9,000 but then they revised it to Rs 12,000. More so, I got the phone after 4 months and then too, there was a fact with its proximity sensor and camera and there was back and forth for 2 months,” he said.
“But they didn’t replace the phone and only after I filled a case against them in consumer court they replaced the phone, but it wasn’t a sealed set. Even this phone has issues with the GPS tracker and volume,” he added.
Clearly, while things are improving, handset makers have a long way to go and there is a need in the change in the attitude of after-sales personnel.