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Old 24th August 2011, 00:09   #16
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Default Re: Why is After Sales Support such an important criteria?

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Originally Posted by Gandhi View Post
What I meant was, A.S.S. is not that important a factor to rule out a car or short-list a car.


Well, I feel buying a product is a totally different ball game
than buying a service.

The most simple example we can think of a service is the airline industry. We have seen lots of carriers go bankrupt (or on the verge of it), but still people fly them, because your association with the service ends once you make use of it. You don't OWN anything here !!

But in the case of a product, it's totally different. You become the owner of the product for quite a period. With car being the second most expensive purchase (next to home) in one's life, the *** factor is pretty important. There are quite lot of things in the car which can be fixed ONLY by the manufacturer's ***. For these issue, we are pretty much at their mercy.

When GM was struggling to get out of bankruptcy in 2009, they got some of their cars/pickups to different Lowe's locations every weekend and offered $25 incentive for every person who test drove them. This was what they had to do to get people have a look (not even buy) at their cars. People just did not go to the bankrupt company's dealerships because they feared the *** & spares would be gone once it ceased to exist.

At-least people in the big cities have options (multiple *** centers of the same manufacturer, local mechanics, etc..). But for people living in small cities there is not much of a choice. If something goes wrong with the vehicle (not the generic issues like puncture, etc.), he/she will be pretty much at the mercy of the only *** nearby.

The *** is much more than routine service (6 months, 1 year, etc.). It does include breakdowns, damages, preventive checks, etc.

One important point to note is the change in our driving habits. With all the 4+ lane highways coming up, the number of people taking their cars for long drives has increased exponentially. This definitely demands an increase in the quality/network of ***. Imagine someone with a fantastic car having a breakdown on the way to a 3 day trip. They definitely don't want to spend 2 days in the service center (waiting for spares,etc.).

Can understand if *** of a dealership (of any car manufacturer) not being up to the mark. But if it's an issue with the majority of the dealers of any car manufacturer, then it's their battle for survival.
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Old 24th August 2011, 00:17   #17
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Default Re: Why is After Sales Support such an important criteria?

@vista_qjd - It would be interesting to know your POV after reading few replies. If you are ignoring the service part ( as a seller or as a customer) ... I indeed do not know what to say.

Service makes or breaks a Car and its brand. A Car being reliable is a different aspect (almost all Cars are reliable nowadays) compared to incompetency/cheating prevalent at most ASC*. Few manufacturers listen, few turn a deaf ear. Not just the ASC, but the manufacturer (if brought into the picture after dissatisfaction from ASC) should be able to resolve the issue.

* Most ASC's are same, but few are good and those few ones are listed in Team-Bhp's directory for very good reason
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Old 24th August 2011, 08:58   #18
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Default Re: Why is After Sales Support such an important criteria?

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Originally Posted by noopster View Post
One of my bosses used to say, Hope is not a good strategy.
Is this boss of yours Red from Shawshank redemption
"Red: Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."

Back to the topic, I had a pre-abused (as opposed to pre-worshipped) M800 as my first buy, if it was not MS, I doubt if it would have survived 7 long years in my hand. An abundance of qualified service technicians is a big boon, especially when part after part reaches its end of life.
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Old 24th August 2011, 10:26   #19
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Default Re: Why is After Sales Support such an important criteria?

In my opinion, after sales support is as important as the product itself.

When you are selecting the product (car), you are fully aware of the specifications of the product and you also get to test drive it before purchasing. But as far as the after sales services are concerned, you get a taste of these only after you have made the purchase. There is no way to be aware of the quality of A.S.S. before making the purchase, other than through word of mouth publicity.

Hence I don't mind selecting a slightly inferior product (specs wise) as long as I buy it from a company which provides better after sales services than its competitors. Its the combination of the product specifications and after sales service that influences the decision for most customers, especially first time car buyers.

While we are discussing A.S.S. , let me clarify about what is my idea of good A.S.S. Most people might infer good A.S.S. support as a widespread service netowork across the country. While it might be desirable to have a dozen agencies and hundreds of service centres in one city, this should not be the sole factor to classify the A.S.S. as good or bad. Also, having service centres in remote locations may not be useful for customers who use their cars mostly inside the city.

What makes the A.S.S. good is their ability to perform routine service efficiently and effectively (hence making the vehicle reliable and niggle free), ability to solve major/minor problems without requiring multiple visits by the customer, being able to procure replacement parts quickly, honesty and trust factor (not cheating customers/replacing parts), attention to detail, courtesy towards customers and reasonable prices.

I don't buy the logic that customers should take crappy treatment from A.S.S. because that is the way we are treated by restaurants, internet service provider and cable TV operator. Today the customer has a choice of selecting from various service providers. If you still choose to opt for services from providers who are offering you crappy treatment, then you are either completely ignorant of the other service providers or choose to stay with the crappy service providers because of their low prices.

I shifted from the crappy cable TV to Tata Sky because I was fed up of the crappy service from the cable TV operator. Tata Sky subscription charges are slightly higher, but the signal quality and prompt service are assured.

I did not opt for BSNL broadbad, even though I am elegible for 40% discount on internet bill. Reason - I can't handle crappy service from BSNL employees.

If I get crappy service at a restaurant, I would not visit it again and also advise my friends not to visit the place.

I feel that customers should boycott companies who provide shabby services. That way, the companies would be forced to improve their services.

Maruti has set an example of offering a nationwide service network with multiple service centres in every city, service centres in the remotest of locations, offering efficient, reliable and cost effective after sales services to the customers in huge volumes.

If Maruti A.S.S. can do it (widespread+technically sound+cheap+volumes), what is the excuse for other brands ?

Rohan
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Old 24th August 2011, 11:08   #20
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Default Re: Why is After Sales Support such an important criteria?

A.S.S is pretty important, as is the car. A.S.S being good is also pretty important. Ask most Skoda owners (me excluded, touch wood!). Reliable service is what we want, when we purchase a car. If something goes wrong (remember, that it will), we want a quick and honest solution to the problem.

That said, once my car is out of warranty, I aint headed to the A.S.S, unless its for parts. Regular servicing shall, and will be done at a known private garage.
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Old 24th August 2011, 11:18   #21
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Default Re: Why is After Sales Support such an important criteria?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vista_qjd View Post
One thing i noticed across the forum is the importance people give for the A**. I never quite understand what the fixation on the A** is.
.
.
.

Isnt what matters for a car the most - The reliability - has it left you stranded on a road? Your thoughts?
(A disclaimer: I own a Tata vista)
Even I share the same thought as you. That is the precise reason I bought a Punto inspite of knowing FIAT does not have it's own service centres & TATA's poor A.S.S.

I bought it because I like the car & to heck with the A.S.S. Coupled with FIAT's 15k or 1 year service interval, like you mentioned, I rarely need to go the A.S.S. But I am also aware that GOD forbid if my car decides to play spoilsport, I would be in a fix.

So, I wont say a good A.S.S. is not necessary, but it wont be the deciding factor or top priority for me while choosing a car...
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Old 24th August 2011, 11:46   #22
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Default Re: Why is After Sales Support such an important criteria?

A.S.S. for me is the most important criteria after the vehicle's reliability. Let me explain it through an incident. After about an year or so the left front wheel steering rod started making noises. I own a Wagon R. On inspection at the nearest authorised service centre the problem was identified and since the car was under warranty he advised me to take it to a Dealer workshop as Maruti's A.S.S. are not authorised to undertake warranty related issues.

Being a Maruti I had the option of 4 Dealer Workshops within 4 kms of my residence. Unfortunately the two workshops didn't have the required part and they asked me to visit them the next day. Well, in today's busy life you never have the luxury of free tomorrow. So it had to be the same day. Thereafter I went to the Dealer in Delhi from where I had purchased the car (about 8 km from my residence) and so it was, the problem was fixed and the part replaced.

Now imagine what if I had a car from some other manufacturer. I have come across people who keep endlessly waiting for the spare to arrive and what if the car is not drivable. After all how long can you wait?

And what if you have driven to a Tier 2 and 3 towns? Apart from Maruti only Hyundai has a network spanning all over the country. Honda too has a decent A.S.S. network but then as a Honda owner I would be hesitant to drive to smaller towns.

The point I want to make here is that it is not just the A.S.S. which is important but the A.S.S. network which is also a prime consideration.
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Old 24th August 2011, 12:00   #23
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Default Re: Why is After Sales Support such an important criteria?

After-sales support has a number of components that make or break a deal:
  • Whether there are enough service centres around you to go to. Nissan sells zilch in Kolkata, because the nearest ASC is in Bhubaneshwar (IIRC);
  • Whether there are enough trained personnel in each service centre to get the work done right first time;
  • Whether the build quality of the car is such that it requires frequent visits to ASCs and wastage of time to fix niggles. Fill-it-shut-it-forget-it is what we all want;
  • Whether spare parts are prohibitively expensive. Look at some of the threads here about people finding out how Hyundai rips off customers of small cars by charging exorbitant prices for critical components;
  • Service cost at each routine visit. Talk to a Octavia / Jetta owner, then talk to a Corolla / Civic owner. For a vehicle priced similarly when new, routine service cost at given intervals can vary astronomically;
  • Whether spares are easily available at all service centres. Having a vehicle go off the road because spares take 3 weeks to arrive, is a big deal breaker;
  • How honest ASCs are in general for that particular brand. This is dependent on how the parent co. treats the dealer, and translates into how much nonsense work goes into your car. Cases in point - *clutch change* scam, *more frequent service* scam, *flush engine at every service* scam, and a lot of others. Also, whether the ASC swaps parts with old / spurious ones;
  • Whether the product manufacturer has its own ASCs, or suffers from the Cuckoo Syndrome. Case in point: FIAT.
Therefore deciding on a car to buy is not JUST about how nice it feels to drive, how inexpensive it is and how big a brand value the badge has internationally, but all the above factors as well - and they are all ASC-dependent factors.
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Old 24th August 2011, 12:29   #24
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Default Re: Why is After Sales Support such an important criteria?

Some scenarios where A.S.S would be a deal breaker, no matter how good your car is.

1. You hear a squeaking noise in the car, but visit to server center doesnt help reduce it. This only increases frustration
2. Parts shortage is one factor that differentiates a good brand from other. Maruti cars have no shortage cos there are so many cars on the road. Imaging some break shoe of Nissan Micra for e.g. it might be too costly for a dealer to have them in inventory throughout. But in Maruti's case he can be sure that someone would need it.
3. Trained Server people surely make a difference in finding out root cause of issue.
4. One main difference you will not is there are cases when cars are stuck in dealer center for 3-4 days. This doesnt happen if the A.S.S is good and has no part shortage.
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Old 24th August 2011, 12:51   #25
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Default Re: Why is After Sales Support such an important criteria?

A** for the car is like a Hospital/Fitness center for us. It has to be good! You drive with your family trusting that the car will hold up and the brakes will not fail because you trust that the product is built well and that the service guys have checked it right and have okayed it. Our life depends on it! it is an important criteria!

Companies with best practices assures us that they have everything covered and chances of failure is minimised.

Last edited by GTO : 24th August 2011 at 16:23. Reason: Please PROOF-READ your posts before submitting. Correcting spelling mistakes
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Old 24th August 2011, 13:04   #26
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Default Re: Why is After Sales Support such an important criteria?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vista_qjd View Post
I never quite understand what the fixation on the A** is.
Very valid question if asked 25 years ago.
Today everything depends on the quality of service in every sector, not just in automobiles.

The companies that give top preference to service are tops in their respective fields. Thats the simple answer to your question.

Last edited by Daewood : 24th August 2011 at 13:05.
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Old 24th August 2011, 13:23   #27
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Default Re: Why is After Sales Support such an important criteria?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gandhi View Post
What I meant was, A.S.S. is not that important a factor to rule out a car or short-list a car.
It is indeed one of the most important factors. I own a Ritz too and while deciding on the car, we found Skoda fabia ticking more rights than Maruti Ritz. However, A** tilted me to Ritz.
No offense to Skoda owners here!!!

Having said that, I do agree that A** is not the sole criterion while deciding on a product.

O.T: Check out the history of DELL and you will find out the importance of A**. DELL's USP is A** it provides vis a vis its competitors and today they are the leaders in their trade.
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Old 24th August 2011, 13:35   #28
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Default Re: Why is After Sales Support such an important criteria?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vista_qjd View Post
Isnt what matters for a car the most - The reliability - has it left you stranded on a road? Your thoughts?
Every car manufacturer wants his cars to be reliable on road. And Reliability is a function of A.S.S experience. No matter how reliable a new car is, it will continue to be reliable in the next Service Interval only based on quality of After Sales. Especially when no car nowadays is over engineered like earlier it is very important that the Service Experience is well qualified and accessible to the car and its owner.
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Old 24th August 2011, 14:15   #29
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Default Re: Why is After Sales Support such an important criteria?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vista_qjd View Post
One thing i noticed across the forum is the importance people give for the A**. I never quite understand what the fixation on the A** is.
I agree that most cars comes with 1Yr/15k service interval. So in a 5 yr ownership, ideally, you would be visiting the serviice center 5-6 times. wow!!!!
If this had been a reality, nobody would worry about A.S.S. Unfortunately, that is not the case with most cars. That is why you need good A.S.S. Hope you got your answer.
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Old 24th August 2011, 16:30   #30
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Default Re: Why is After Sales Support such an important criteria?

1. A car isn't like a zero-maintenance mobile phone; a car is built of thousands of wear & tear parts.

2. The average customer (99.99% of India) isn't knowledgeable about cars. To him, the car is merely a tool that transports him from point A to point B.

3. No one has time to waste today. This is one of the reasons I stick with Japanese cars; my regular work week allows no time to spend on the car.

Combine all 3 of the points above, and you'll know why after-sales is so important. Are they capable of servicing the car properly, without error? Can they solve problems at the first attempt? Will they give back the car in reasonable time? What is the quality of interaction (this service advisor is the manufacturer's face to the customer)? Are they going to bill me honestly?

I might add that, while reliability is MOST important to me, after-sales isn't. That's because I have a great network which I can use for service & repair. This is true with most enthusiasts, but is more the exception rather than the rule when we are looking at the mass market / average car owner.
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