Recently I needed to purchase a new refrigerator to replace an 8 year old unit with a defective part. I couldn't continue with the repair as the part was no longer available. I realized this is the problem with current appliances with electronic or digital parts- obsolescence.
While I was upset about the lack of spare parts, I was open to a new purchase because I wanted to change to a refrigerator inverter which friends have told me had been very energy efficient, like up to P8,000 a month decrease in electricity.
I turned to crowdsourcing for feedback on three major brands- Electrolux, Panasonic and Samsung. These brands, to my mind, were all equal in terms of brand equity, quality and performance.
Friends piped in with different feedback and preferences- and I saw that like me, they focused on after sales service rather than price or energy savings. Since service is usually outsourced or subcontracted to a third party, this is where the differences come out.
In the end, I decided on the same brand of my old ref even if I initially got upset about their phasing out of parts.
And it is because I am satisfied with the quality of service of their subcontractor who has been providing service for the past eight years. They were apologetic about the phased out parts, tried to source from regional supplier, was honest to say it may take 2-3 months and still might not have that part needed, etc. And yes, they called back and followed through.
I remember a service case I read on the importance of car after sales service- that car owners will buy a brand that has consistently provided good service even if they had bought one "lemon" of that car brand. They know that in case of misfortune of acquiring (another) lemon, they will be taken care of, based on past experience. This versus another brand of car which may be performing well but with no or bad, prior after sales service experience.
So for companies who just focus on product sales, be very aware of how customers make decisions - and especially for consumer durables, after sales service may be the key.
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About the Author
Chiqui Escareal-Go is the CEO and Chief Service Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. She is also a former president of the Women’s Business Council Philippines. She volunteers to train and mentor women in micro and small enterprises in how to grow their businesses or how to spot opportunities. Chiqui is currently finishing MA Anthropology at the University of the Philippines.