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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Looking beyond product satisfaction

Anita Sharan, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, September 16, 2013
First Published: 00:26 IST(16/9/2013) | Last Updated: 03:06 IST(16/9/2013)

Three years ago, Kolkata-based Seema Wanchoo bought eight high-end split air conditioners from a leading brand offering dual-mode – hot and cold temperature control – ACs, for her new apartment in Gurgaon. Once installed, all eight units failed to maintain the temperatures set by her, shooting up by several degrees instead. 

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Wanchoo complained repeatedly, over several days, before the company sent its R&D people over. They had to change the sensors of all eight ACs. A year later, one of the ACs caught fire. While it was replaced by the company, the blame was laid on faulty wiring.

“They should have told me about bad wiring when they installed the ACs,” fumed Wanchoo. “The company’s service quality has been pathetic. I will never buy the brand again, nor recommend it to others.”

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An Ipsos online survey on customer services satisfaction across six Asia Pacific countries, including India, paints a common picture of poor customer service, frustrated consumers with low service expectations, an increased rate of sharing positive or negative experiences online, and a willingness to place a greater value on customer service than price.

“I do not think customers have low service expectations. Rather, they have low expectations of receiving good customer service,” emphasised Raja Amarjeet Bunet, executive director, Ipsos Loyalty. Ipsos is a global market research company.

The survey found that in India, dissatisfaction in the utilities, financial services and telecom sectors were the highest. Overall, dissatisfaction over the past six months was a whopping 90-95%.

“Earlier, the threshold of customer expectations was low – consumers were not used to exercising the power of money. Now, their confidence as buyers and their sense of entitlement have gone up. Besides, products such as mobile phones and TVs are dependent on services to work,” said Santosh Desai, CEO, Future Brands.

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Bunet said, “Service delivery measurements need a fundamental change. Companies are attempting to improve services but on the ground, change is not reflective of the effort.”

Desai added that brands are unable to keep service pace with their expanded sales.

The Ipsos survey, however, found that more consumers preferred to share good rather than bad service experiences. “Customers talk about good experiences, wishing to rationalise their choices and recommendations. They do not want to hear that they made a bad choice,” said Bunet.

Desai predicted: “The consumer hasn’t got aggressive yet. But dissatisfaction will get organised; give it two years.”

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