Recently, I had received a watch from the Fastrack marketing department, with a request to review the watch. In conclusion, I had mentioned, the watch would have been a perfect fashion accessory.
It would have been a perfect fashion accessory, that is until it stopped working for some reason the other day. I assumed the battery had run low, since I had played a lot with, err…, tested the back-light, and from previous experience, I knew that using the backlight often can drain the battery very quickly.
As usual, I took the watch to the nearest watch repairer. Not quite the Titan-authorised repair shop that I was supposed to take the watch to; but then, that chap was quite experienced in the simple battery-replacement kind of work.
On opening the back of the watch, we discovered a cover secured in place with four of the smallest screws you can come across; there were no bigger than the full-stop at the end of this sentence, even smaller than the kind that angels tippy-tap on.
As a result of which, what should have been a simple pop-and-drop job, which any average Joe could do, it becomes a complicated operation, requiring the delicacy of an astronaut docking his shuttle at a space station or a cardio-surgeon doing a heart transplant. Worried that the repair-guy might lose those screws, I made him put the steel-back on, and took it to the nearest Titan repair shop.
It was not very different at the Titan service centre. The guy in the shop had not seen the insides of the latest Fastrack models, and was visibly surprised at the size of the screws.
Removing those screws took him 5 minutes, not including the time he took to find an appropriate screw driver. Putting them back on took him exactly 29 minutes. Each screw was frustratingly tiny to grip, and when he did finally manage pincer it and place it into the appropriate hole, the screw would jump up and fall onto the floor.
It would have taken him longer, if he had not lost one screw in the process, due to which 2 other shop assistants had to go down on their knees with an entire arsenal of magnets, metal detectors, x-ray goggles and what not.
After those frustrating 29 minutes, when he finally managed to get all the screws, minus one, in place, he discovered that the watch wasn’t working because the battery had run low, but because the printed circuit board was damaged. I needed to show up with the warranty card at the service centre and get the watch replaced.
I could have walked out of the shop, knowing what I was told, half-an-hour earlier, if the screws in the watch were a little bigger and more usable.
I don’t understand it. Why is the team at Fastrack interested in making the customer wait for more than half-an-hour for just a battery replacement, a job that for so many years, wouldn’t take more than 5 minutes?
The situation is even more inexplicable when you know that Titan was the company which brought the quartz watch to India, and pioneered the network through which one could get watch batteries anywhere and everywhere at the cheapest possible price. One would think they would know more about it than anybody else in the country.
The only reason one can imagine that there is a cover in place is so that nobody other than the authorised service centre can handle it. But what if the service centres themselves are ill-equipped to even open up the watch? It only exacerbates the situation.
Dear readers, I know you must be thinking, what yaar Vivek, you are making pahaad out of a mole-hill. But it is this small thing that is going to be a major sore point with customers, especially at a point of interaction where they expect instant service. One thing leads to another, and the customer may not be wearing your watch again.
I am bringing this up for another reason as well. The Fastrack team, it seems, has paid a lot of attention to details, to make sure the image of the brand remains consistent. But this homogeneity in brand image must be ensured at all points of contact, especially when something has mundane as the instruction manual has been revamped. A negative experience destroys everything that your brand stands for.
Titan must realise, however you market the watch: as a fashion accessory, or a Swiss Army knife, it is still a watch, and one must make all efforts to make sure the core purpose of a watch is not hindered. The core benefit of a Mercedes SLK might be status, as an eminent professor of product management put it at IIMB, but it is useless if it doesn’t move.
By the way, there isn’t something such as a free watch. What chance giveth, accident taketh.
As sickeningly sycophantic or toadyish I might seem, respect are still there for Titan.