29 Sep 15 Brand perception – entwining of product quality and after-sales service
Perception on the quality of an engineering product is closely related to the quality of after-sales service that goes with it.
Most B2B customers of industrial equipment place quality of the product on top or in the top 2-3 most important criteria they use to evaluate different brands when they make purchase decisions. But how do you define quality? It is generally the absence of breakdowns, consistency in performance and long life. All of these are very closely related to how well the equipment is maintained. If the product is serviced on a regular basis, it naturally does not break down as often.
The end users experience the bundle of product and service as a whole. If the bundle results in good performance, they perceive the product quality as good. Customers are satisfied with an average quality product if the after-sales service is very efficient and all issues are attended to promptly. On the other hand if a product is very rugged, rarely breaks down, but is not serviced immediately, it makes for unhappy customers.
ValueNotes recently conducted an in-depth study on brand perception* of industrial compressors of all types – reciprocating and screw, across 8 end-use industries (including auto, cement, chemical, food & beverages, pharmaceutical, power, steel and textiles).
We found that most end users placed product quality, quality of air output (from the compressor), compressor life, energy efficiency and after-sales service among the top five purchasing criteria. When it came to evaluating different brands on these criteria, they often clubbed the parameters in the comments.
For example, we encountered comments such as
- “We had some teething troubles with the compressor, but the engineers fixed them immediately, so we plan to buy the same brand again”
- “The service engineers visit very regularly to check on the compressors, so we expect that the product will have a long life.”
- “The cost to us of keeping it (the compressor) shut for several days when it does breakdown is very high. So even if the compressor is very good quality, we still want to know that we will get very prompt service.”
- “The service engineers are freshers with very little training, so they are not able to diagnose the problem correctly. We would not have bought this brand if we had known this earlier…”
Manufacturers of industrial products need to focus on the entire product-service bundle they offer to the customer if they would like to be perceived well.