An open letter to NIU

You might have seen my Blog entry about the long wait when you have to file a warranty case with your NIU and things have to be sort out with their Central European distributor – because nothing happened I think it’s about time for an open letter….

Dear NIU,

My warranty case took 1+ month, so I had a lot of time while walking or sitting in public transportation thinking about what really went wrong here… and it’s not just me, all the forums out there are full of complains about service times. One frigging month to fix something which takes about 1hr to replace at max? Come on! There’s a huge potential to improve here!
Having served for the EMEA subsidiary of an American company for over 14 years, I have an idea about how it is being an outer-wing (of an outer-wing). On top there are so many different markets and customers in Europe, it’s hard to understand and manage them all remotely. So when you enter a foreign market, a local distributor is a good decision. You have someone on the ground who knows the market and can handle things quicker than yourself being in a different time-zone and/or continent.

If you’re an old enough fart like me, you might remember that even Nintendo had European distributors back in 1982 (game and watch times, that is).

Time to go 2.0 – Now!

Here are my 2 Euro-Cent on the status-quo from a customer perspective:

  • In essence NIU sells a mobility solution (mind you: #niumobility).
  • This solution has a strong emotional component (freedom, environment friendly, expression of personality etc.)… which is a huge asset as long the customer is happy (i.e. product works) and feels taken care of, because…
  • The flip-side of this emotional part is, when the mobility solution turns into immobility. I like to compare this with a capacitor. It positively charges over time – but be careful when it suddenly discharges: High voltage!

I’ve read several posts from people ditching NIU completely because they had enough from repeating issues and helpless dealers.
You can not allow this to happen! In this (still) early stage of market development word of mouth is essential! Every early adopter is a salesman!

So what to do to prevent this?

As said before, a central distributor is/was a good choice to engage into a new market, this single point of failure and “problem funnel” quickly becomes a bottleneck as soon as sales increase beyond a certain point.
When a central distributor starts to get swamped by warranty-cases and just can’t cope-up, delaying things beyond silliness it’s time to move onto the next level… not mentioning the long shipping times and the unnecessary additional negative CO2 footprint here (bad, bad, bad!).

What is a distributor doing in the case of e.g. a battery-issue? They check the cells and BMS and swap one or both in case of a defect.
In my opinion this is something a “qualified dealer” could & should be able to do, too. Imagine Piaggio dealers having to send broken Vespa engines to Italy for repair. This model just does not fly at a certain amount of sold products.

Suggestions for moving forward:

  • #1 target should be: Keep the customer mobile.
    • Dealers should have NIU sponsernd rental-batteries.
    • A replacement vehicle should be considered as an option
  • #2 keep the customer in the loop about repairs.
    • Man, honestly, it’s so simple to have a CRM system for that… and you have an App. Do the math put two and two together!
  • Enable dealers to do more than just shipping
  • Turn one of the biggest dealers in each 500k+ city into a Flagship-Store. Get out of the grocery-store corner, NIUs being placed between 2-strokers and bicycles! Think about why Apple made this move…
  • Keep your distributors as “competence center” or 2nd level if the dealer just can’t get it fixed.

NIU (still) has the right momentum so don’t loose that in post-sales. In one sentence: Do the next step and cut the Gordian service knot!

Kind regards,
Axel

If you have anything to add, feel free to comment below! We’d love to hear your experiences and ideas…

2 thoughts on “An open letter to NIU

  1. Thank you very much for this letter! My dealer has stopped selling NIUs because he got massive problems in a warranty case and didn’t want his customers to take it. Now I don’t have a dealer near me anymore…

    1. Thanks for your comment, Daniel.
      Sad to hear that… In general I think this is an essential learning for all Chinese companies: competitive pricing goes only this far… If after-sales breaks, it’s like trying to get the toothpaste back into the tube.

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