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The Smart Manager - - Contents - SUD­HIR GOEL IS CHIEF CUS­TOMER SUP­PORT OF­FI­CER AT ACER IN­DIA.

Cus­tomer-cen­tric­ity has been core to the com­pany’s cul­ture, says Sud­hir Goel, Acer In­dia.

Ever since its in­cep­tion in 1976, Acer has been fo­cussing on en­hanc­ing peo­ple’s lives—through its var­i­ous prod­uct of­fer­ings that in­clude PCs, servers, tablets, smart­phones, wear­ables, and so on. This Tai­wanese com­pany opened its In­dia sub­sidiary in 1999, and has cre­ated a strong foothold in the mar­ket by launch­ing in­no­va­tive ser­vices and prod­ucts. What has been a ma­jor growth driver in the coun­try has been their ex­pan­sive pres­ence and the ro­bust cus­tomer care net­work they have built.

From our early days when we part­nered with Wipro, cus­tomer ser­vice has al­ways been a strong fo­cus for us. We firmly be­lieve that brand ex­pe­ri­ence does not stop at the re­tail store; in fact, the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ences the brand even af­ter a pur­chase through var­i­ous touch­points; sup­port is a key area wherein we strive to en­sure they get the best ex­pe­ri­ence. Over­time, we have built an ex­pan­sive in­fra­struc­ture to be closer to our cus­tomers—we are present in most of the dis­tricts across In­dia. This has helped us cater to cus­tomers in each and ev­ery cor­ner of the coun­try, and re­as­sure them that ser­vice sup­port is close by. To this ef­fect, we have put in place var­i­ous tools to track and mon­i­tor ser­vices and cus­tomer feed­back in a timely man­ner. In fact, a significant por­tion of our re­sources is spent on build­ing ser­vice sup­port.

Chang­ing cus­tomer needs are the most im­por­tant driver of in­no­va­tion.

cus­tomer ser­vice phi­los­o­phy

Acer as­pires to achieve a high level of cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion through cost-ef­fec­tive ser­vices; we con­tin­u­ally strive to im­prove ser­vice ef­fi­cien­cies and the ef­fec­tive­ness of the Ser­vice Man­age­ment Sys­tem.

It is ex­tremely im­por­tant for any brand to un­der­stand the sig­nif­i­cance of com­plaints and solve them on a high-pri­or­ity ba­sis. We fo­cus pri­mar­ily on af­ter-sales ser­vice, and have in­tro­duced var­i­ous ini­tia­tives to pro­vide bet­ter ser­vices. Re­cently, we launched an app which of­fers quicker and ef­fi­cient ser­vice.It en­ables cus­tomers to reg­is­ter and track their prod­ucts, raise ser­vice re­quests, track re­pairs, view re­pair his­tory, and so on.

Besides this, we also pro­vide cus­tomized ser­vice sup­port to our en­ter­prise clients wherein they can avail them­selves of sup­port at a time con­ve­nient to them and their busi­ness model. This prac­tice has helped us serve our ITES clients who work on dif­fer­ent time zones.

role of in­no­va­tion

In­no­va­tion is one of Acer’s core com­pe­ten­cies. We are com­mit­ted to re­search, de­vel­op­ment, and in­no­va­tion, as well as gain­ing a deep un­der­stand­ing of what both the cus­tomers and the mar­kets de­mand. Chang­ing cus­tomer needs are the most im­por­tant driver of in­no­va­tion—this be­lief has helped us work to­wards ful­fil­ing the grow­ing tech­nol­ogy de­mands.

Acer’s ini­tia­tives

We of­fer 24/7 sup­port through an on­line tech­ni­cal por­tal, di­ag­nos­tic call cen­tres, standby units in case of de­lay, on-site pan-In­dia sup­port, and pri­or­ity chan­nel queue for key cus­tomers at the call cen­tres for quick ac­cess and res­o­lu­tion. There are also four ser­vice cen­tres owned and op­er­ated by the com­pany.

Apart from this, we have launched a key ac­count man­age­ment pro­gram, as part of which monthly meet­ings with cor­po­rate and other ma­jor cus­tomers are held to re­view the ser­vices and SLAs; spe­cial fo­cus is laid on key cus­tomer seg­ments un­der the Elite Cus­tomer Sup­port ini­tia­tive. Ser­vice camps are held on key cus­tomer premises and ser­vice cen­tres for those who are an in­te­gral part of AIL Sup­port. Fur­ther, at our Tech­ni­cal As­sis­tance Cen­tre (TAC) in Ben­galuru, Au­tho­rized Ser­vice Part­ner (ASP) en­gi­neers of­fer as­sis­tance di­rectly while on a cus­tomer call. For easy ac­cess to our ser­vices, we have in­tro­duced the Acer Care Cen­tre (ACC) app on Google Play, which helps cus­tomers reg­is­ter a prod­uct, log a case, and lo­cate ser­vice cen­tres.

en­sur­ing brand loy­alty

At present, Acer has a seven mil­lion reg­is­tered cus­tomer base. We are con­stantly try­ing to un­der­stand the so­lu­tions our cus­tomers seek, to help them pur­sue a significant leap in value to dom­i­nate the mar­ket. Con­stant im­prove­ment is key to keep­ing cus­tomers loyal to your brand.

Rather than just go­ing by the num­bers, it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand what your cus­tomers want next. Con­duct­ing reg­u­lar cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion sur­veys will help ob­tain feed­back and make im­prove­ments to prod­ucts/ser­vices. The feed­back gath­ered has proven to be a valu­able source of con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment to Acer’s op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures.

For in­stance, we im­ple­mented many so­cial me­dia cam­paigns wherein we got a good re­sponse from across the coun­try. In fact, cus­tomer sug­ges­tions helped us un­der­stand the gaps and rec­og­nize their ex­pec­ta­tions.

chal­lenges

There are many chal­lenges we have been fac­ing while build­ing an ef­fec­tive cus­tomer ser­vice ex­pe­ri­ence. Get­ting qual­i­fied en­gi­neers as well as procur­ing ma­chine parts has been a chal­lenge, espe­cially in Tier III and Tier IV cities. It is im­per­a­tive for IT com­pa­nies to ap­point those with ap­pro­pri­ate tech­ni­cal skills at the right time, at the right place, and pro­vide them with the right ma­chine parts. We have around 2000+ field and ser­vice cen­ter en­gi­neers who are well-trained to han­dle Acer prod­ucts. This helps us en­sure best af­ter-sales ser­vice.

As we pro­vide ser­vice de­liv­ery through the fran­chisee model, it is a chal­lenge to man­age mul­ti­ple ser­vice part­ner or­ga­ni­za­tions. There are around 200+ ser­vice part­ner cen­ters with 450+ spares drop lo­ca­tion IDs, with whom we co­or­di­nate to pro­vide ser­vices in var­i­ous cities. Our well-trained ASPs are us­ing the CRM tool which is be­com­ing the back­bone of ser­vice de­liv­ery op­er­a­tions.

We are try­ing to un­der­stand the change in land­scape, both in terms of tech­nol­ogy and buy­ing be­hav­ior.

so­cial me­dia

We po­si­tion our­selves as a brand which em­pow­ers in­di­vid­u­als with the power of pro­gres­sive de­sign. Con­nect­ing with cus­tomers via so­cial me­dia chan­nels is just a part of the strat­egy; the key goal is to use this plat­form to en­gage with them through dif­fer­ent ini­tia­tives and gather their sug­ges­tions and feed­back about our prod­ucts/ ser­vices. We are try­ing to un­der­stand the change in land­scape, both in terms of tech­nol­ogy and buy­ing be­hav­ior. Many of our new prod­ucts speak for them­selves, us­ing so­cial me­dia as a plat­form.

For ma­jor com­pa­nies, so­cial me­dia of­fers a way to en­gage pos­i­tively with cus­tomers and prospec­tive cus­tomers. But at the same time, it is also a tool for un­happy cus­tomers to ex­press them­selves openly. So a brand should be pre­pared to deal with such a sit­u­a­tion, on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. I think the pos­i­tive as­pect of so­cial me­dia is that we can di­rectly speak to cus­tomers and un­der­stand their prob­lems. Our cen­tral­ized cus­tomer griev­ance re­dres­sal cell di­rectly re­ports all com­plaints and helps us ad­dress the is­sue. This makes it pos­si­ble for us to sat­isfy un­happy cus­tomers and make them long-term ad­vo­cates of our brand—so their am­pli­fied so­cial voice will work in our fa­vor.

fu­ture plans

We are look­ing strongly at a host of IoT prod­ucts which are prac­ti­cal and use­ful for our in­di­vid­ual cus­tomers and house­holds, which will range from health­care for se­nior cit­i­zens to learn­ing com­puter cod­ing at a young age. We are also in a strong po­si­tion to lever­age the VR and AR space with our ac­qui­si­tions. Work­ing in line with our growth strat­egy, we also plan to ex­pand our re­tail and ser­vice cen­ter pres­ence, reach­ing even small and ru­ral towns. The core idea be­hind launch­ing these cen­tres is to pro­vide con­sumers with an im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence of Acer’s vast range of prod­ucts/ser­vices un­der one roof. It is also aimed at of­fer­ing many first-time buy­ers of a PC an easy own­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence, which will help pro­vide com­puter lit­er­acy and help In­dia be­come truly dig­i­tal. ■

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