After sales service: Why it is important & how to improve It

Alibaba.com JUNE 09, 202211 MIN READ
After sales service: Why it is important & how to improve It

Great customer service is the foundation on which a successful business is built. Don’t believe it? Many companies don’t either – until they find that two-thirds of businesses compete based on customer satisfaction.1

Today’s customer wants a unique experience, and they want it to be satisfactory. In fact, 73% of customers base their buying decisions on what the experience promises,2 and 89% of them will move to your competitor if you disappoint.3

After sales service is a key tactic that experienced businesses employ to win the hearts and pockets of consumers. There’s a simple reason why. It shows you’re not just thinking of your customer as a lead to be closed; you view them as a valuable relationship to be nurtured. And customers love being told (and shown) that they matter.

Dedication to top-notch customer support, even after a sale, can catapult your B2B e-commerce business to success. If you’ve not paid much attention to after-sales service before now, or if you’re looking for a way to improve, we’ve written this guide for you. Let’s dig in!

What is after-sales service?

After sales service includes every process designed to support a customer after a sale. It can include giving proactive advice on maximizing their purchase or simply being there to ensure they enjoy it. Other examples of after-sales services are:

  • Generous warranties
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Insurance coverage
  • Free training
  • Returns and exchanges
  • Free upgrades
  • Incorporating customer feedback

Customers are valuable assets to all businesses, which is why savvy sellers treat their satisfaction as a top priority. After-sales service shows a commitment to providing high-quality products and following up with similarly high-quality sales support. Consumers recognize the value in such efforts, and they constantly reward it with more sales and fanatic brand loyalty.

According to recent statistics, 87% of customers will make another purchase if they had a good first experience.4 They will spread the word about your business and bring their friends, family, and even acquaintances. All of those repeat purchases and referrals will benefit your bottom line, too – you might see revenue boosts up to 95%!5

after sales service

Why is it important for sellers?

Quality after-sales services present a great way to distinguish your products and services. Many companies even go so far as to build their entire brand around excellent after-sales offerings.

For example, brands like Tesla don’t simply sell products – they introduce customers to a lifestyle. Tesla customers enjoy free software upgrades that constantly redefine and extend their vehicle's abilities, all for free. Unsurprisingly, the company now sits at the top of the automobile industry with a $986 billion valuation.

You help your e-commerce business stand out from the competition by providing superior after-sales services. Likewise, great post-sales support can boost customer retention and satisfaction, foster repeat sales, and even supercharge employee productivity.

  • Boost customer satisfaction and retention: According to data from Microsoft, seamless customer service encourages enthusiastic brand loyalty. Consumers report higher satisfaction rates after dedicated support, and 96% will keep coming back for more.6 And because it’s often more expensive to attract a new customer than to retain an existing client, you also save on marketing costs.
  • Increase repeat sales: One of the positive implications of high customer satisfaction and loyalty is lucrative repeat sales. Buyers who are satisfying end up wanting more, and that’s a good thing for you. As Deloitte reports, a positive customer experience can result in up to 140% increased buyer spending.7 Additionally, their repeat patronage creates upsell opportunities, potentially letting you sell higher ticket items.
  • Gain brand evangelists: Get this: 72% of people who experience delightful customer service will spread the word to six or more people.8 So, by investing in quality after-sales services, you gain customer loyalty and free (and highly effective) marketing. Roughly 65% of new business comes from referrals,9 and if you keep them happy, they can generate up to 16% higher lifetime value.10
  • Positive brand image: Businesses that want to create a great impression in buyers' minds can benefit immensely from an impressive after-sales offering. Studies indicate that a satisfactory after-sales experience promotes great branding.11 Customers will see you as a helpful and trustworthy brand, and this perception will help bring them back for more.
  • Avoid costs of poor service: As great service provides numerous benefits for your business, ineffective or unsatisfactory service can have the opposite effect. While satisfied customers will share how they enjoyed your services, disgruntled clients will tell even more people if the service was poor. A Nice Reply survey found that 13% of customers will share a poor experience with 15+ people.8 That bad image can have severe implications for your bottom line – US firms lose $1.6 trillion yearly as a result.12
  • Improve employee productivity: Creating great customer experiences also affects your employees. Statistics indicate that employees in consumer-focused companies are better engaged and more productive than their peers. Additionally, these companies outperform their competitors in earnings by 147%,13 highlighting the real financial impact of excellent service.

5 essential tips to improve after-sales service

As we’ve seen, after-sales service can be a powerful way to add value to your customers. Even better, since B2B buyers are typically large spenders who dislike change, you can gain their long-term loyalty with great service. But you’ve got to win them over first, and that’s where these tips come in.

Here are five crucial steps to creating market-leading after-sales service.

after sales service

1. Audit your service

As with all aspects of business, effective solutions depend on knowing what’s wrong and what needs fixing. While Microsoft reports that 67% of companies plan to improve their customer service, many find that their efforts fall flat.6 And that’s because they don’t take the time to create a winning strategy.

Therefore, the first step to improving your post-sales services is to ask: where are we falling short? Proceed by conducting a top-down audit of your post-sales offerings. This might include asking the following questions:

  • What after-sales services do we provide?
  • How are they executed?
  • How have customers reacted to these services in the past?
  • Are the services meeting company objectives?

With an accurate picture of how things stand, you’re better positioned to design improved offerings that customers love.

2. Identify improvement opportunities

Having clarified the current picture, it’s time to think about where or how things can improve. And thankfully, you have a secret weapon that can help you accurately pinpoint your next steps: customer feedback.

Customer feedback is a potent improvement weapon because you’re gaining an inside look into your clients’ preferences and satisfaction levels. To demonstrate the effectiveness of this tactic, Garter reports that successful customer-experience projects start out using customer feedback.14

Asking your clients’ opinions and taking them seriously also provides other benefits. For instance, it shows customers how much you value their input and don’t just view them as walking wallets.

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3. Create memorable experiences

With the sneak peek you’ve gained into your clients’ minds, you’re in a great position to move forward. However, while you could implement many after-sales offerings, it’s worth giving priority to offerings that foster unforgettable client experiences.

Here’s why. Customer experience is overtaking price and product as key brand differentiators. Since 79% of customers prefer brands that care about them,15 you can potentially outdistance your competitors with a few well-curated post-sales services.

The following are examples of memorable after purchase services that create loyal customers:

  • Personalized messages: Start by addressing your customers by name. Research shows that, when addressed by name, people become friendlier and happier.16 Besides, emails and messages that include personal touches, such as a name, experience higher click and open rates.
  • Customer loyalty rewards: Customers love being seen and their efforts recognized. That’s the idea behind loyalty rewards. It tells customers that you see them and value their patronage. Loyal customers are also more likely to buy more and become even more loyal when they feel loved and cared for.
  • Make it up generously: Sometimes, things don’t go to plan. A client’s order could get messed up, or they don’t like what they received. The customer might even be at fault, but that’s no excuse to let things degenerate. Instead, take the opportunity to provide generous remedial help. That way, you’ll correct any poor impressions they had about your business and give them a pleasant experience to share.

4. Prioritize customer satisfaction

Never be too busy for your clients. When clients meet problems in using your products or services, they expect fast and effective help. So don’t put off their problems till later or provide the support that falls short of expectations.

Implement after-sales measures that entirely satisfy client needs, and they’ll reward you with fanatic loyalty and repeat purchases. Some perks you can offer include:

  • Omnichannel support: Make it easy for your customers to contact you. While dealing with ticket volumes can be challenging, omnichannel support presents a great way to expedite the process. This means offering support options across email, phone, live chat, social media, and one-on-one interactions with staff.
  • Proactive customer service: Customers don’t expect to wait for a response when they send you a message. In fact, data suggests that 32% of customers expect a response within 30 minutes.17 So, when they reach out, ensure to respond swiftly, warmly, and effectively.
  • Solid guarantees: Guarantees can help create a compelling offer, especially for B2B sales. Purchase items in these transactions are typically high value, so knowing you’ll be there if anything goes wrong will be an immense comfort for clients.
  • Seamless returns: Although it feels like returns may be losing you money, research shows different. About 88% of customers confess that free return shipping plays a role in their initial buying decision.18 Besides, they’re likely to buy more when they know you’ve got their back with a seamless returns process.
  • Considerate refunds: Likewise, a lenient refund policy increases customer trust and confidence in your products. But it’s not just about including considerate terms. Also, make an effort to ensure these are clear and readable for clients.

5. Incorporate feedback culture

Lastly, learn to make the most of customer feedback. You’ve done great work that customers love. But if you don’t provide avenues for them to tell their story, other potential clients won’t learn about your excellent service.

Here’s how to effectively collect and generate great feedback:

  • Actively request feedback: Many customers love to share great experiences they’ve had. But many more don’t, so you should actively encourage them to speak up. You might do this by sending them a survey after every purchase or giving them a call to learn how they find the product.
  • Provide warm (and swift) responses: When you receive feedback, don’t let them go without a reply. A thoughtful response can restore your brand’s positive image even when the feedback is negative.
  • Publicize great reviews: Toot your own horn. Let people know what customers think about your brand and how they are proud to work with you. Also, share these reviews throughout your departments. Seeing the positive impact their work creates for clients will also help your employees find more fulfillment.
  • Don’t lean back: Don’t rest on your laurels. Great reviews are nice to have, but they’re also a challenge to do better. Always keep in mind that consistency is paramount when it comes to excellent customer service.

Sell on Alibaba.com

Overall, excellent after-sales offerings can make the difference between you and your competitors. With the tips we’ve shared here, you’re in a great position to begin planning and designing an after-sales program that gets customers raving.

Alibaba.com supports B2B sellers on the platform with comprehensive and dedicated after-sales offerings, including courier delivery, appliance maintenance, exceptional hospitality, and more.

The platform already gives sellers the tools to cater to a global audience. But with its after-sales offerings, Alibaba.com further empowers sellers to create long-term partnerships that deliver lasting value.

Would you like to also benefit from Alibaba.com’s after-sales capabilities? Then, open a seller account today.

References:
1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2019/09/24/50-stats-that-prove-the-value-of-customer-experience/#7261cb234ef2
2. https://www.pwc.com/us/en/services/consulting/library/consumer-intelligence-series/future-of-customer-experience.html
3. https://lumoa.me/customer-experience-stats
4. https://experiencematters.blog/category/roi-of-customer-experience/
5. https://smallbiztrends.com/2014/09/increase-in-customer-retention-increases-profits.html
6. https://info.microsoft.com/rs/157-GQE-382/images/EN-CNTNT-Report-DynService-2017-global-state-customer-service-en-au.pdf
7. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/process-and-operations/us-cons-the-true-value-of-customer-experiences.pdf
8. https://www.nicereply.com/blog/value-of-cx/
9. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/276605
10. https://faculty.wharton.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Schmitt_Skiera_VandenBulte_2013_Referrral_Programs_2.pdf
11. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2158244020924405
12. https://newsroom.accenture.com/news/us-companies-losing-customers-as-consumers-demand-more-human-interaction-accenture-strategy-study-finds.htm
13. https://www.gallup.com/products/170969/q12-employee-engagement-center.aspx
14. https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3072017
15. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/wunderman-study-reveals-79-of-consumers-only-buy-from-brands-that-prove-they-care-about-earning-their-business-300386618.html
16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1647299/
17. https://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-research/42-percent-of-consumers-complaining-in-social-media-expect-60-minute-response-time/
18. http://multichannelmerchant.com/operations/survey-consumers-want-free-return-shipping/

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