The Edge: Bright Ideas for Emerging Markets
Amrita Kundu, assistant professor of operations and information management, explores how after-sales service increases overall customer satisfaction and helps drive technology adoption in emerging markets.
Your research examines the significance of after-sales service implementation on technology adoption in developing countries. What are your key takeaways?
Part of my research looks at how the private sector can be brought into social and environmental development in emerging markets. The research findings, which focus on service wait times for first-time users and their impact on the adoption of solar home systems in off-grid communities in Uganda, suggest that customer acquisition is not enough—especially when you are thinking about providing life-saving or technologically advanced devices in emerging markets.
Your research targets the off-grid solar market in Uganda. What can environmental and policy experts learn from studying this part of the world?
Technologies that seem to have very clear economic benefits in developing countries often are not adopted at the rate one might expect them to be. When it comes to solar home systems and thinking about people living in the dark in Africa where there isn’t an electrical grid, the focus has been on spreading awareness: telling people about the technology; making them understand its value; or providing subsidies to be able to afford it. However, our research shows good after-sales support is extremely important to increase customers’ confidence in the technology, and for its continued use by existing users and uptake by new adopters. Policymakers should take note of the role of good after-sales service and develop and support service providers in these regions to increase the rate or adoption of novel technology.
What were some aspects of your research that surprised you?
These are complex products that break often, so it was strange that companies and investors have been focused on customer acquisition with less effort ensuring the products are actually working and satisfying customers. When there is positive word of mouth following an after-sales service, your customer acquisition will come naturally, and nearly free of cost.
This story was originally featured in the Georgetown Business Spring 2023 Magazine.