Imagine your old phone broke down and now you need a new one. You want to treat yourself by buying the latest model of a super popular brand. So you don’t mind spending a large amount of money, and you happily buy it.
Then, a couple of days later, you realize you don’t understand a bunch of features and you need some extra help from the provider.
But somehow nobody replies to your emails. Nobody’s picking up the phone.
Would that impact your purchasing decisions?
Or would you stay loyal to your old mobile phone provider if you knew they offer 24/7 support for delightful customer service?
Apart from expecting products whose quality matches the price, customers for years now also expect to find service providers exactly when they need them. If you’re good at what you’re doing, you should even be the one to let the customers know they can count on you. However, make sure you do that before they even think of reaching out to you. So, if you make them choose between a good product and a good after-sales service, you’re not on the right path.
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Good products keep customers interested, but after-sales service keeps them loyal
Offering a great product that’s not backed up with at least decent support is a pretty risky business. On the one hand, if you don’t show interest in your customer experience, you’ve lost them for sure. And by allowing your business to not address customers’ after-sale needs, you’re potentially ruining the future of your brand.
What is after-sales service? It’s the help and support you give your customers after they’ve made a purchase. After-sales service can include onboarding support, advice on how to use your product, letting new customers know you’re there to answer their questions, and reaching out to see if they’re happy with their purchase.
There are many ways to provide good after-sales service to your customers. These can include one or more of the following:
An easy return/exchange process
Listening to customer feedback
Checking in to ensure customers are satisfied
Types of after-sale services
There are several types of after-sales services you can provide to your customers.
Usage - offering guidance to the end users of your product on how to set up the product, find the features they need, and troubleshoot any common issues.
Education - giving your customers access to training, courses, and other resources.
Assurance - assuring your customers that your company stands behind your product by offering guarantees, warranties, returns, and replacements of faulty products.
Support - offering online and offline support to customers so they know where to turn when they have a question or an issue.
Reward - rewarding brand loyalty by giving customers loyalty offers, rewards for referring friends, and special offers.
To make sure your first-time buyers will remain loyal to your brand, you should think beyond just selling a product. That’s the key to delightful customer service: providing your customers with the attention they need. Now doing so certainly doesn’t mean that you should repeatedly bother them asking if they’re happy or if they need anything (although getting in touch with them once in a while would be appreciated).
What primarily matters in providing customer service is your availability.
Your readiness to receive their complaints and deal with them efficiently is of the utmost value. Except, how are you supposed to know if you’re providing a great after-sale experience? How can you improve your current support system? And what are the activities that you could include in your customer support service?
Read on and find out! We’re bringing you some of the most significant after-sales service examples that you can implement as well as some use cases that will help your business improve.
How after-sales service can grow your business
After-sales service is an important way to grow your business, but it’s frequently overlooked.
Often, businesses pay more attention to prospective customers when they’re looking to grow because that’s where the more obvious opportunities can be found. But new and existing customers are just as vital - and potentially even more critical for the long-term health of your business.
Increased customer satisfaction - taking great care of your customers even after they’ve made a purchase ensures that they feel satisfied with their buying experience.
Increased customer retention - when customers feel they can trust your business to deliver high-quality products along with a great customer experience, they’re less likely to look elsewhere for their next purchase.
Referrals - customers who are happy and satisfied because of your after-sales service will often sing your praises to their friends, family, and colleagues. This word-of-mouth marketing is free and effective.
Product and service pairings - you can use your after-sales service to offer additional products or services that enhance what the customer just bought, such as running gear to go with the new running shoes they purchased.
Upselling - finding added products or services that will enhance your customer’s experience, or offering them an extended warranty, offers a useful experience to your customers and added profits for your business.
Promoting new products and services - your existing customers should be the first to know when you release a new product or service. Your after-sales service can become a pre-sales process - let them know about the new offering and they can spread the news to their networks.
Customer loyalty programs - customer loyalty is the number one initiative for CX leaders, according to GetFeedback’s 2022 State of CX Report. Loyalty programs increase customer retention and loyalty, and are a powerful way to provide after-sales service.
After-sales strategies to implement
1. Offer a warranty that adds value to your product
Even though warranties are not a surprising and unusual way of keeping customers’ trust, many businesses don’t pay much attention to the quality and real value of their warranties.
Customers frequently get rejected after making a complaint due to incredibly strict and narrow warranty policies. This leads to disappointment, which in the long term provokes losses. Practically speaking, it’s not enough to offer a warranty. When you do it, your customers really should benefit from it when experiencing troubles.
2. Use live chat for customer service as an after-sales support system
An important part of delightful customer service is offering them proactive support to engage customers in no time. No matter whether customers are happy with your product or not, you shouldn’t simply wait for them to leave feedback regarding their experience. And that’s why live chat for sales can make a great difference in your communication with your customers, especially if your agents are not only skilled but also friendly and pleasant.
If you choose a live chat software that lets you store buyers’ accounts and save their purchase history, you can reach out to them as soon as they receive the order and check if everything’s alright, or offer additional help.
Some other fast ways of getting in touch with customers when you want to hear from them are social media pages and messaging apps, but make sure to use these sparingly so you don’t annoy your loyal customers.
3. Offer some awesome customer loyalty programs
You may think the loyalty plans are purely promotional assets. But they can also be a great value-adding after-sales activity, especially if you want to make a bond with your customers and encourage them to stay with you.
No matter whether you base your loyalty program on discounts, exclusive vouchers, gifts, or other types of privileges, your customers will appreciate it. And there’s nothing that keeps customers excited about your brand like providing them both with high-quality products as well as some awesome surprise gifts.
4. Utilize surveys to gather customer feedback
Instead of waiting for customers to offer their feedback in reviews on your website or a review site, reach out to them proactively to ask them what they think by sending them a survey.
One of the most popular ways to gather after-sales feedback is by sending a Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) survey at certain touchpoints.
You can gather feedback on the purchase process by sending the survey immediately after they complete their transaction to ensure there are no bugs in the checkout process.
Sending a survey after the customer has had time to use the product or set up the service, typically a few days to a few weeks after the purchase, can help you determine how satisfied they are with their purchase while they’re using it.
If a customer reaches out to customer support, you can also send a survey after that interaction to find out how your customer support team did.
Incorporating customer feedback forms into your website, like pop-up surveys, offers a way for customers to give you feedback even when you haven’t sent them a survey. You don’t know exactly when they’ll want, or need, to contact you, so feedback forms allow them to do that on their own time.
Customer feedback surveys are a highly effective way of developing a deeper understanding of your customers. You won’t know what your customers are thinking unless you ask them directly - and feedback surveys are the easiest way to find out what they like, dislike, and want in future products or services.
They can also be used to improve customer experience and loyalty. You can use customer surveys to find pain points in the customer journey that are negatively impacting your CX and fix them. You can also use surveys to find out what is making your most loyal customers stick with you, and your least loyal ones leave.
5. Implement user training as needed
User training can be a useful after-sales service strategy, when applicable. If your product is a bit tricky to set up or use, has a lot of nuances, or contains a lot of underused features, your end users could benefit from user training.
You can provide user training by offering self-serve tutorials on your website, hosting webinars that train users on advanced processes or features, creating an automated onboarding guide, or other training methods that work well for your product and your users.
Not only does providing user training make your end users feel supported, it also helps them to get the maximum value out of your product and see that value faster. That means they’re likely to be more loyal and profitable. And it can help you reduce customer churn rates as well.
6. Offer returns / replacements
If a customer purchases a product or service that is defective, broken, or simply not what was promised, that’s not a good customer experience. But if they find they can’t return or exchange that product - they’re stuck with it - that turns a not-so-great experience into a very negative one.
Offering a limited timeframe in which customers can return a product for a refund or a replacement is an important after-sales service strategy. It allows customers to purchase from your business with confidence, knowing that they won’t be stuck with a product that doesn’t live up to their expectations. And it tells them that you stand behind what you produce.
A limited money-back guarantee is also effective if you provide a service - customers can ask for their money back if they’re not happy within 30 days, for example. They’re most likely to purchase from you for the first time if they know your business is so confident in what you offer that you will give them their money back if they’re not happy.
Basic after-sales service strategies
If you still think that a good product can have a bright future without good after-sales service, it is high time you realized that sales don’t work that way.
To have a stable market position and improve your business results in the long-term, you should have in mind that you need your customers to repeat their purchases. And if you try to copy the best practices from successful businesses, you’ll realize that keeping your customers happy is not as difficult as it may seem.
Wondering how to improve your after-sales service? You should start with the basic strategies that work for all types of businesses. These strategies can include:
A well-designed warranty program.
Real-time feedback collected with the use of live chat for customer service.
Loyalty plans based on various incentives.
Implementing such strategies can help you provide a holistic service to your customers hassle-free.
Keep in mind, these methods are the bare minimum of providing excellent after-sales service to your customers. You should work to come up with creative and unique strategies that are targeted to your customers, as well as aligned with your business goals. These strategies are simply a starting point.
Examples of good after-sales service
Want to know what good after-sales service looks like in the real world? Let these examples of companies that have good after-sales service strategies in place inspire you.
Introducing the PlentiReward system that lasted from 2015 to 2018, American Express let their clients earn and redeem loyalty points. Using the points, American Express clients got the chance to win rewards from a variety of brands collaborating with this firm after each purchase. The best part of it was that it both represented an awesome after-sales program as well as a great way of motivating new purchases.
This brand, world-famous for its skincare and makeup products, doesn’t only offer amazing products but also an awesome support system.
Their customer experience staff, also known as the gTeam, efficiently collect the after-sales feedback everywhere online (social media inboxes, posts, tweets, comments, reviews, emails, live chat for sales, and so on). Then they process the collected impressions individually and provide personalized feedback whenever it’s possible.
They provide a genuine approach that makes customers feel familiar with the staff and more open to express their requests, opinions, and suggestions. Customers even get to discuss the ways of using products with support agents that use them. And this is certainly one of the main reasons why this company’s last year revenue reached an incredible $100 million.
One of the reasons why Apple remains the best option for a large number of customers all around the world is their warranty policy, included in the official Apple Care support system.
Once a customer purchases an iPhone, the company automatically supplies them with the free-plan warranty services for the next 12 months, repairing and replacing problematic parts. And that’s not all. Apple even lets customers purchase the extended warranty before the first warranty period has expired, keeping them happy and loyal.
Acquiring new customers is exciting - but your commitment to providing a great experience shouldn’t stop there. Giving them an excellent after-sales experience helps to keep them loyal, satisfied, and profitable for many years to come.
Looking for a way to gather customer feedback, analyze it for trends and areas for improvement, and track your progress in making improvements over time? Learn how GetFeedback can help you create the best customer experience—start your free trial today.
Editor’s note: This article reflects the opinions of our guest author.
About the guest author
Jared Cornell is a technical writer currently associated with ProProfs Chat. He enjoys writing about emerging customer support products, trends in the customer support industry and the financial impacts of using such tools. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.