After-sales service is the remedy to the age old issue: treating the customer well to get their money but slacking on earning their loyalty.
It's a tale as old as time. A company spends time and money wooing you, and then the moment you're hooked, everything changes. Business interactions like this, where companies mislead you into thinking they'll provide excellent service so they can close the deal, is a terrible experience.
The good news is that it doesn't have to be this way. In this post, we'll show you how to use an after-sales service strategy to turn new customers into brand-loyal advocates.
What is after-sales service?
After-sales service is the support you give your customers after they've purchased your product. It might include an onboarding period, extended customer support hours, and proactive support outreach to identify small roadblocks before they become major obstacles.
Among other things, after-sales service includes:
- Thank you notes
- Excellent, and available, customer service
- Product training
- Regular check-ins
- Listening to customer feedback
- Returns and exchanges
Why is after-sales service important?
Most companies aren't trying to pull the rug out from under their customers after the sale. Often, businesses end up paying more attention to prospective customers because they want to grow the customer base. Putting more time and effort into converting leads pays off immediately with their fist purchase as a customer.
This results in a cycle of investing in the pre-sales experience without investing in the post-sales experience. All of sudden, you might wake up and realize that your customers are not being treated as well as you would like them to be—or how they expected to be—based on your excellent sales experience.
While investing in pre-sales service is important for converting browsers into buyers, after-sales service is critical for the longevity of your business for three reasons: ensuring repeat customers, fostering word-of-mouth referrals, and maintaining a positive brand image.
Providing great after-sales service improves customer retention and increases the likelihood of customers purchasing from you again. According to a 2020 study conducted by Shep Hyken's CX consulting firm, 96% of customers are willing to leave your business if they receive bad service.
Even if you've sold them on your product initially, abandoning them after the sale virtually ensures they won't come back in the future. Think of it like a leaky bucket. Sales are pouring in, filling up your bucket. But if you have a hole in the bottom of your bucket, customers will keep leaving, and your bucket will never fill up no matter how fast the water flows in. Providing great customer service after the sale is like patching up that hole. Customers will stick around, even as you recruit new customers and make more sales.
Leads that are referred to your business by previous, happy customers are the most valuable asset in your sales funnel. Not only are they four times more likely to convert compared to leads from other sources, but they also have a 16% higher lifetime value.
Providing great after-service sales has a positive impact on the number of customers who are willing to provide referrals. And since 65% of new business leads come from referrals, according to a survey of marketers, it's critical that your existing customers are happy with your after-sales service. If they aren't, you'll see fewer and fewer new leads coming from referrals.
Positive Brand Image
A number of studies have shown that a good post-sales experience positively affects the overall brand image, which in turn promotes customer loyalty. Ensuring that you're seen as a trustworthy, helpful brand is essential to customers returning to purchase in the future. It can also improve conversion rates and reduce churn. While short-term sales might look good on your revenue chart, investing in ongoing customer happiness will make sure you'll keep getting sales in the future.
4 Ways to Delight Customers After the Sale
Here are a few ways you can show customers you care the day after the sale and throughout their customer journey.
1. Follow up with a phone call.
Whether your business sells $100 or $10,000 products, a follow-up call goes a long way in showing the customer you care after the sale. The reason follow-up calls work is because they ease the customer's mind after making a purchase and help mitigate buyer's remorse.
On the call, reassure your customer that they've made a great decision and your team is there to help them get the most value out of their purchase every step of the way.
2. Set up automated emails for special dates.
Birthdays, holidays, and purchase anniversaries are the perfect time to remind customers that they matter to your business after the sale. This information is relatively easy to obtain through a loyalty program or even at the point of sale. You can wish them well on their special day and feature any promotions or relevant products in your message.
Setting up an automated email on these special days is simple with a tool like Marketing Hub.
3. Send a handwritten thank you note.
Thank you notes are small tokens of appreciation that can influence the customer experience after the sale. This traditional method of following up will help your brand stand out in the minds of your customers because it shows that your team spent time acknowledging them individually.
4. Customize the customer experience.
Personalization isn't just preferred, it's expected, especially after the sale. Personalizing communications by things like product specs or store location can help the customer make future purchasing decisions that align with their needs.
Now that you have a grasp on how to deliver stellar after-sales service, let's look at some examples of companies that are doing it right.
Examples of Good After-Sales Service
These companies all have their own unique way of providing service to customers post-sale. What stands out about them is that each business has uncovered a specific way they can improve their customers' experience or provide more value. Use these examples to help uncover your own opportunities to provide good after-sales service.
1. Baratza After-Sales Service
Baratza makes coffee grinders that are built to last, and their after-sales care program is second-to-none. Rather than building a cheap product that constantly needs to be replaced or upgraded, Baratza produces grinders that are meant to be repaired for a long lifetime. Not only is this sustainable for the planet, but it also increases consumer confidence in their product.
Baratza provides great after-sales service through extremely helpful customer support, online troubleshooting guides, easily ordered replacement parts, and affordable repair service for customers who don't want to DIY.
2. Suzuki After Care Service
Suzuki is routinely rated as one of the top-performing automotive and motorcycle companies when it comes to customer satisfaction. When it comes to vehicle sales, trust and reliability are essential. This is why Suzuki has put so much effort into ensuring buyers feel supported after the sale.
Along with the standard warranty, customers can also upgrade to the Suzuki Protection Plan, a transferable warranty that makes sure the customer is taken care of, even after they've purchased.
3. Lenovo Vantage Post-Sale Support
Included with every new Lenovo PC shipped to consumers is an app called Lenovo Vantage. It's designed to help the customer get the most value out of their new computer. Not only can the app help them customize the performance of their PC, but it can also run diagnostic tests, help the user troubleshoot, and keep everything up-to-date and running smoothly. It's basically an IT help desk located right on the user's laptop.
4. LastPass After-Sales Service and Training
Support isn't just about fixing things when they go wrong. It's also about empowering your customers to get the most value out of your product. LastPass provides their administrators and end-users with ongoing free training on how to set up their computer security systems. Not only do users get the benefit of a safe password manager, but they also are informed of any new security concerns they should be aware of. This brings a lot of value to the product and improves overall customer satisfaction, even after the sale.
5. EPIC Bar's After-Sales Support
Occasionally, things will go wrong after the sale. Instead of taking a "buyer-beware" attitude and leaving your new customer to deal with the issue, it's important to take a proactive approach. By being available to support new customers you can turn their experience around and end up with a loyal customer.
For example, an EPIC bar customer found a bad bar in her purchase. After writing into the company, they not only replaced the bar but sent her extra and a coupon for future purchases. By including a hand-written note, they showed her that they care, and have earned a customer for life.
Don't Abandon Your Customers After the Sale!
It's natural to court your customers when you need their business. But the good times can't stop as soon as you get the sale. Instead, spend just as much time making your new customers have a great experience. The investment will pay off in customer loyalty and referrals.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in [Month Year] and has been updated for comprehensiveness.