The Indian mobile industry is the fastest growing in the world and India continues to add more mobile connections every month than any other country. Among the fastest growing sectors in the country, telecom has been zooming up the growth curve at a fiery pace. Mobile phone is the most extensively used electronic gadget in India, with more than 950 million handsets, around 70% of the Indian population owns a mobile phone.
The market in India is dominated by mobile, it is becoming the dominant device for voice, value-added services, and increasingly for mobile Internet also. It’s somewhat similar to what we saw in Japan in 1999 where, because of the limitation of broadband and computing mobile connection paved the way.
In today’s ‘Smart Economy’ there is a whole host of services being created around mobiles. An effective management of mobile services requires an understanding of the factors that underlie the evolution of the market. Factors such as market potential, timing and speed of adoption are of great importance for telecom operators for capacity planning. One of the most important factors for any mobile device manufacturer is the after sales support provided by them.
It’s been observed that in India electronics have a shorter life span as compared to other countries. Smartphones in particular are more complex than feature phones. Hence, they are more prone to operational issues cropping up like unresponsive screens, broken camera lens and faults in various slots in the phone.
With consumers upgrading to new devices more frequently and buying multiple devices throughout their lifetime, mobile phone brands realise the importance of customer lifetime value (CLTV) and the role service plays in acting as a differentiator for the brands. A good service experience helps establish the trust and loyalty among consumers for the brand.
Most mobile phones and electronic devices carry a 1-2 year manufacturer’s warranty, any issue in the phone under it, is generally reported by a consumer. But if the warranty period gets over, the consumer is left in a fix. There is a flux between choosing a local repair shop or an authorised service centre. Opting for a local repair shop is cheap, but the guarantee factor is missing.
The unorganised repair market in India is thriving on the huge telecom boom we are facing right now. A lot of local electronic markets have cropped up with varied service options for the device. These shops give services, exchange parts and correct the faults with the phone at a cheap price. It is imperative that a consumer reports an issue to the manufacturer rather than leaving the device at some local shop’s disposal.
There have been incidents reported of manhandling of devices, cheap spare parts used and improper service being offered. The parts also put by local repairmen do not carry any warranty. These shops give no guarantee of the phone after the service, hence putting the phone in danger.
Whereas, taking malfunctioned phone to a proper service centre may be a bit expensive, but the quality of service and the product is assured. Phones are repaired in factory like repair stations by well qualified and experienced engineers, where proper precautions and safety measures are taken in order to repair the handsets. Just like the factories where handsets are manufactured, the service centre also needs to be dust and moisture free. To be on a safer side, a consumer may also take device insurance, which in the long run is light on the pocket.
The process of a handset repair consists of many levels. The type of service depends on the damage occurred and the issue being faced. There are four basic phases, the first and the second phase of repair is a general service where a phone is serviced at the service centre itself, as the engineers there are qualified of handling such issues. These issues are generally small and do not require a full-fledged service. But, if a phone is damaged or requires a special service, it is sent to a repair factory.
These factories are fully operational with high quality machines and the engineers there are equipped to perform any kind of repairs. The devices are well tagged and proper record of the parts are also maintained. The parts exchanged come with a warranty and any issues faced later on is handled by the service centre. Nowadays, many manufacturers give a doorstep delivery option, where a phone is collected and delivered at the doorstep for a minimal cost.
Every authorised dealer has certifications in servicing and repairing of devices. Phones are in proper hands and there is a guarantee which comes with the service offered. Smarter phones require smarter services. Many mobile companies outsource their after sales service to specialised teams. The “Touch” service centres are examples of specialised service centres that offer a consistent customer experience in after-sales and repair services of plethora of smartphones.
The writer is head, consumer services, HCL Services