Green Rambles: When After-Sales Is An Afterthought

Sometimes I wonder if brands become so focused on always selling new watches that they forget to provide service for the ones they have sold in the past. Right now, for example, I have two requests for after-sales service with two different brands. The first requires a full service, and it is a complex job because the watch has an emergency transponder built into the case, so I want the brand itself to service it. Its service center is not even a 20-minute drive from my home, and I know many people who have brought in and picked up their watches from there directly. This would be the most convenient option for me, but I wanted to double-check that the center still operates, just in case anything has changed. I found a local email address for all service-related questions on the brand’s website. We are now almost six weeks underway, and even after a friendly reminder, still no response. Perhaps I need to open and pull the emergency beacon of the watch to get their attention?

For another watch in my collection, I need an extra link for the bracelet, as it is a bit too snug to be worn comfortably. This has also proven to be an ‘upstream’ battle because, after initial friendly contact with the point of sale they have in the Netherlands, I only heard the sound of silence. At this point, I would rather hear them admit that they, unfortunately, cannot help me rather than feeling ignored. Coincidence? I find that hard to believe, as I hear too many stories from fellow collectors about the struggle with getting decent after-sales service.

During college, I worked in a high-end clothing store under an old-school manager who was close to retirement. He was very keen on providing after-sales service, as this was an opportunity to improve customer retention by continuing to meet their needs. In my years working there I saw various examples of this. Sometimes we even helped people fix problems they had with clothes that weren’t even from our store. In doing so, we often gained loyal clients who knew to come to us first when they needed a new piece for their closet.

This is also what always surprises me. If a client has a request for after-sales service, you know for a fact that they have already bought your product at least once. Quite likely, they can also do this again, so why ignore the clients’ needs while there is often a dependency as service or bracelet links cannot be obtained elsewhere? Sure, after-sales might not be as profitable as selling new watches, but in the long run, it remains indispensable in gaining a loyal following and keeping your clients smiling.

What are your experiences with after-sales service? Let us know in the comments

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  1. David Dahlgren

    I’m glad you are addressing this subject. I brought it up during a conversation with a fellow from IWC and he basically refused to discuss it. Speaking from experience, I recently had a problem with my JLC Reverso and they dealt with it quickly. Watches are machines and machines need to be fixed from time to time. As an amateur watchmaker I am constantly amazed by the power and resilience contained in those tiny machines; one wouldn’t expect such performance from a car.

  2. Very insightful and spot on comments!
    Always appreciate your articles, Martin!
    Also in the Netherlands: Patek and Rolex were pretty good, no complaints.
    Tag Heuer returned an Omega crown on after service…
    JLC – haven’t been there yet, but need to do so soon.

  3. Louis M. Shambarger

    It isn’t just watches. I will name a company with outstanding service; the best I have ever delt with: SawStop table saws.

  4. Customer service is everything in business.

    I swear the lack there of is proof that the decline of western civilization is in full swing.

    We are doomed as a species when we fail at the most obvious methods of success.

    Making up excuses is harder than just doing the job.

  5. George Grillo

    I have sent a few watches to Chopard and they were polite, prompt and did fine work. Tourneau was helpful but sent my Corum bubble watch to the manufacturer. This is not a complicated watch nor an exotic caliber but it took almost a year and almost $1,000. IWC charged me over $2,000 and took several months to do routine service on my Portofino perpetual. Swatch group is pricey and slow and impenetrable: no human seems to work there. I no longer buy complicated watches nor do I go anywhere near a number of brands I like but can’t abide their terrible service.

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