The after sale service, a necessity for business in China
What to do if the product you bought is deficient? The most common idea is to ask the after sale service of the brand. Except that it is often neglected by brands, to the great displeasure of consumers, especially the Chinese ones. As a matter of fact, a quality after sale service in China is essential to establish a good reputation.
Divergences between Western and Chinese cultures
Depending on the culture, the importance of this service is more or less taken into consideration. In Western countries, it is not rare to have an after sale service, whether it is from the brand or the distributor from which the product was bought. However, clients often complain about the quality of the service, without seeing any improvement afterwards.
In China, it is quite the opposite. It is essential to have an after sale service for all the categories of products. It also has to be available 24/7 on most used apps, such as WeChat. The after sale service must be able to answer all the questions of consumers, from programming household appliances to the best use of a certain cosmetics. Some clients even ask for training on the use of some products or services.
Moreover, like a director of an American company with a branch in China said: The Chinese public asks for more attention and the best price. China is known for its culture of bargain. Consumers going through after sale service to complain is best for the brands: it reduces the risk of a public backlash on social media.
The after sale service, a way to a better understanding of consumers
Because Chinese like this service and do not hesitate to use it, it can be a precious source of information about their expectations. Each question can lead to the betterment of products, accessories or ways to use it. To obtain this result, it is essential to have Chinese representatives that are able to understand specific demands, expectations and answer to it.
For example, to boost its after sale service, the French automaker PSA purchased a spare parts distributor. On one hand, it expanded its business by spreading out a network of mechanic repair shops on the first automotive market in the world. On the other hand, it became able to collect information about Chinese drivers, their preferences and consumption habits. Thus, PSA could tailor better its communication campaign.
Thanks to a good after sale service, brands can know better how to please their clients by being available and paying close attention to their desires. Paired up with an efficient content strategy, clients will feel listened to and so they will have a better trust in the brand. Indeed, to build friendship in China is one of the base of the culture, in family as much as in business. Who never felt disappointed at a brand when realising that one’s remarks and constructive feedbacks were not taken into account at all ?
A sine qua non condition to succeed and grow
Considering the high level of exigence of Chinese consumers in terms of after sale service, a brand willing to do business in China must be attentive to their requests and complaints. Chinese people are used to rely on the after sale service and it is a sign of success for a brand. Chinese consumers have high expectations towards Western services or products that they see as “cleaner and safer” than Chinese products, often counterfeited. An efficient after sale service is therefore a key element in a competitive era.
A bad after sale service can lead to a bad buzz, which is detrimental for a brands’ reputation. In 2011, a Chinese client of Lamborghini, unhappy with the after sale service, asked four of his employees to destroy his car with hammers. In the very private club of luxury, such a public action can only be a warning signal for a brand about its attitude towards clients. And so, Lamborghini, through its president Stephan Winkelmann, voiced its displeasure about this “bad buzz”, blaming the Chinese billionaire for having imported his car from Japan.
To a lesser extent, buyers of luxury Swiss watches complained about the incapacity of brands to take into accounts their discontent. According to a study by the World Association of luxury in 2012, only 16% of clients said that their complaints were solved. But watches are made of mechanical cogs that can be deficient. The “complicated and very long process of the after sale service” have been criticized. The Association asks for more attention and diligence towards those wealthy customers.