Most believe that a deal is through once the payment has been made but this is not the case in today’s competitive business scenario. Nowadays, a deal is not considered as such until the customer comes back for another sale and players have realised the importance of after sales services in making this happen. Earlier, it was only the manufacturers who were offering after sales services to customers but now, channel partners, too, have started providing the same. The latter have qualified, well trained staff, with the required skillset to cater to the problems of customers. Chetan Ajmera, CEO of Componix says, “Our representatives can address the industry for all their technical queries and help in better placement of our products because of the proper training given to them.” Realising the importance of after sales services given by the channel partners, manufacturers have started emphasising on training their channel partners. Gayatri Industries, a manufacturer of voltage stabilisers, provides training to its channel partners (in India and overseas) so that they can competently take care of customers’ problems.
By Saurabh Sharma
Saturday, September 19, 2009: Manufacturers tend to select channel partners who have the capabilities to cater to all the needs of customers. “We always choose a channel partner who has an electronics background or has some experience of the electronics market due to the technical nature of the products. These qualities help him to connect better with the market,” says Arun N Avhad, proprietor of Jyoti Telecom. Manufacturers can opt to distribute their products themselves and can also provide after sales services directly but if they choose the distributor network for the dissemination of their goods, then it becomes a must for them to impart proper training to the partners in order to enable them to help customers.
Service through channel
After sales services have many advantages but sometimes they raise the cost bar of principals as they either have to establish an entire unit to provide these services or have to start a training centre, where they can train their channel partners. But training channel partners have given them an edge as now they can handle the customer queries on their own.
On the other hand, after sales services can rake in additional business opportunities for the enterprise as customers always tend to get their products rectified by the manufacturer and this gives the company the option of charging annual maintenance charges (AMCs) once the warranty period is over. For Indian manufacturers, it is easy to send out engineers for servicing but for the international manufacturers, it is not possible to set up an after sales unit in every country, so they have to train their channel partners in order to sell their products efficiently. Advance Tec Services Pvt Ltd sells many products of foreign companies but it has trained engineers, who are fully capable of handling all customer queries. This has given the company an edge over other importers because they can solve customer problem in the minimum possible time and does not have to send the product outside India for repair.
Training course for partners
Recently, ABB Electronics launched a web-based training programme for its channel partners and customers to educate them on low voltage motors. After attending the course, its channel partners and customers are now able to work as efficient members of ABB’s low voltage motors’ sales channel. The duration of this course, although scheduled to last five weeks, was variable and dependent on the participants’ discretion. It was equivalent to two days of classroom training and comprised six units, one exam unit and an evaluation. Topics taught in the course included knowledge of the product range, technical data, sales tools and after sales services. “Such courses are extremely essential as they equip customers and channel partners with vital knowledge about the product. They are turning out to be a successful initiative as channel partners and customers are registering online and taking the required training,” says Deepak Sood, head corporate communications, ABB India. A trained channel partner is necessary for the better growth of the company as customer’s tend to have more confidence on the product because they do not have to go to the company for its maintenance.
Benefits of services
After sales services hold many long-term benefits for companies. They not only provide monetary gains to the enterprise but also help it to build a brand name in the market. “A customer who comes to us with a complaint is an opportunity in disguise. If we successfully solve his problem and he is satisfied with our services, he will come back again and next time, perhaps with another customer,” says Avhad. Backing up one’s products with the assurance of after sales services gives customers the confidence to buy them and as they are content in the knowledge that they will be attended to if something goes wrong. If a product comes with a slightly more expensive price tag than other products but also comes with assured after sales services, then customers tend to overlook the price tag.
Along with training channel partners some companies are providing basic training to their customer’s as well so that they can handle some problems directly. Lattice Semiconductor recently launched an online tutorial videos in an endeavour to provide online after sales support to its customers. These videos provide customers with thorough knowledge about the company’s products while they sit in the comfort of their homes.
Return on investment
After sale services are considered a long-term investment, as they don’t render immediate returns. They yield fruit much later, through constant efforts on the part of the company to forge lasting relationships with customers. They also require initial investments for setting up training sites and professional training of employees and channel partners. “To retain existing customers and attract new customers is the policy of our company,” states Ajmera.
Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No.1 Electronics B2B magazine