How to boss customer service pre-and post-sale.
October 26, 2023
You have done all the marketing, have a great website, and have the marketplaces covered. The sales are rolling in. How do you keep it that way?
One aspect of eCommerce that is crucial but sometimes overlooked by business owners is the customer experience and post-purchase support. While many businesses focus on attracting customers and making sales, ensuring a positive experience after the purchase is equally important, if not more so.
So, if you have gone to the trouble to build the site, market it and get the sales in, it would be silly not to boss your customer service; here is how you can do it.
What is before and after-sales customer service?
Before-sales and after-sales customer service are two critical components of a company's overall customer support strategy, and they serve distinct purposes in the customer journey:
1. Before-Sales Customer Service:
Pre-purchase Support: This type of customer service begins before a customer purchases. It's focused on helping potential customers gather information, make informed decisions, and overcome any obstacles they might encounter during buying. If you are selling on marketplaces, this is where descriptions, item specifics and full product and delivery specs come into play. Get these right, and you are getting on to the right path.
Essential Functions: Before-sales customer service involves answering product inquiries, providing product recommendations, assisting with technical issues, addressing concerns, and guiding customers through the ordering process.
Channels: Customers may seek this support through various channels, including phone, email, live chat, or in-person interactions. The eCommerce context includes website features like product descriptions, reviews, and frequently asked questions (FAQs).
2. After-Sales Customer Service:
Post-purchase Support: After-sales customer service occurs after a customer has made a purchase and is focused on ensuring customer satisfaction, addressing issues, and maintaining a positive ongoing relationship.
Essential Functions: After-sales service includes order tracking, handling returns and exchanges, providing product support or training, resolving issues or complaints, and addressing warranty or guarantee claims.
Channels: Like before-sales support, after-sales support can be delivered through various channels. It might include a customer service hotline, email support, live chat, self-service help centres, or in-person service centres for physical products.
The critical difference between these two types of customer service is when they occur in the customer journey. Before-sales service aims to assist customers in making a purchase decision. In contrast, after-sales service focuses on ensuring the customer is satisfied with their purchase and addressing any post-purchase issues or concerns.
An effective combination of both before-sales and after-sales customer service is essential for building customer trust, loyalty, and satisfaction, which are crucial for the long-term success of a business.
What are the three most important things in customer service?
The three most essential things in customer service are responsiveness, empathy, and consistency. These elements are fundamental for providing exceptional customer experiences and building lasting customer relationships.
Timely Assistance: Customers appreciate quick and efficient responses to inquiries or concerns. A responsive customer service team acknowledges customer needs promptly.
Multichannel Availability: Being available across various communication channels, such as phone, email, live chat, social media, and in-person support, ensures customers can reach out in their preferred way.
Problem Resolution: Addressing and resolving issues swiftly demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction.
Understanding and Compassion: Customer service representatives should understand customers' concerns, emotions, and perspectives. Empathy involves active listening and showing compassion.
Personalised Interactions: Tailoring responses to individual customer needs and preferences can create a more empathetic and caring service experience.
Putting the Customer First: Demonstrating a genuine desire to help and making customers feel valued is a crucial aspect of empathy.
Uniform Service Standards: Customers should receive consistent service quality across various interactions and touchpoints with a company.
Clear Communication: Consistent and transparent communication helps customers understand what to expect and how their concerns will be addressed.
Reliable Information: Providing accurate and reliable information ensures customers can trust the support they receive.
These three elements work together to create a positive customer service experience. Responsiveness ensures that customer issues are handled promptly, empathy adds a human touch to interactions, and consistency builds trust and reliability.
Excellent customer service resolves immediate issues and fosters long-term customer loyalty and advocacy. By getting this right, you are creating brand evangelists.
Companies prioritising these essential aspects of customer service tend to enjoy better customer relationships, higher customer retention, and a positive brand reputation.
How do you follow up with customers after sales?
Following up with customers after a sale is a critical part of the customer relationship management process. It helps ensure customer satisfaction, gather feedback, and encourage repeat business. Here are some practical ways to follow up with customers after a sale:
Thank You Emails or Messages: Send a personalised thank you email or message immediately after the purchase. Express your gratitude for their business.
Feedback Surveys: Send surveys to collect feedback on their experience with your product or service. Ask about their satisfaction, what they liked, and what could be improved.
Product Reviews: Encourage customers to leave reviews or ratings on your website or other review platforms. Positive reviews can boost your credibility. They also serve as a valuable resource when potential customers are doing their research.
Cross-Selling or Upselling: Suggest related products or services that may interest the customer based on their recent purchase.
Recommendations and Tips: Provide valuable tips or recommendations on how to get the most out of the product they purchased.
Exclusive Offers: Offer exclusive discounts or promotions to encourage repeat business. Make the customer feel special by providing them with unique opportunities.
Loyalty Programs: Invite customers to join your loyalty program to earn rewards or points for future purchases.
Check-in Emails: Send occasional check-in emails to see how the customer enjoys their purchase and if they have any questions or concerns.
Anniversary Reminders: This requires an excellent CRM, but getting this in place will set you apart from your competition. Send anniversary reminders if the product has a limited lifespan. For example, if someone bought a subscription, remind them to renew.
Personalised Follow-up Calls: Consider making personalised follow-up calls for high-value or complex purchases to ensure the customer is satisfied and has no issues.
Social Media Engagement: Engage with customers on social media by responding to their comments and questions. Share their positive experiences as testimonials.
Problem Resolution: If customers encounter issues, address and resolve them promptly. Follow up to ensure the issue has been resolved to their satisfaction.
Educational Content: Share relevant educational content, such as how-to guides or tutorials, to enhance their experience with your product or service. Show your customers that you are an expert in your field. Strive to be a thought leader.
Holiday Greetings: Send holiday or special occasion greetings to maintain a connection and show appreciation.
Referral Requests: Ask satisfied customers for referrals or introductions to potential new customers.
Remember that the timing and frequency of follow-ups should be balanced to avoid overwhelming or annoying the customer. Tailor your approach to your specific business and customer base, and always keep the communication friendly, informative, and respectful of the customer's preferences.
Implementing the abovementioned strategies for post-sales follow-up can significantly impact a company's business growth and reputation. Here's what you can expect:
1. Improved Customer Loyalty:
You can build stronger, long-lasting relationships by showing appreciation and continued interest in your customers. This loyalty often leads to repeat business and increased customer lifetime value.
2. Increased Customer Retention:
Satisfied customers are more likely to stay with your brand. Follow-up efforts, like personalised recommendations and exclusive offers, can keep customers engaged and returning.
3. Positive Word of Mouth:
Customers with great experience and excellent after-sales care are more likely to recommend your business to others. Positive word-of-mouth can lead to organic growth.
4. Enhanced Reputation:
Providing exceptional post-sales support and engaging with customers through feedback and problem resolution can enhance your reputation for outstanding customer service.
5. Higher Customer Satisfaction:
Customers who feel valued and supported will rate their experience as positive. High satisfaction levels lead to positive reviews and ratings.
6. Increased Sales:
You can increase your sales revenue by capitalising on the customer's interest and trust through cross-selling, upselling, and exclusive offers.
7. Valuable Feedback:
Customer feedback is invaluable for improving your products, services, and overall customer experience. Use this feedback to make necessary adjustments.
8. Brand Advocacy:
Loyal customers can become brand evangelists. They make repeat purchases and actively promote your brand to their networks.
9. Competitive Advantage:
Exceptional post-sales service can set you apart from competitors who do not invest as much in customer care.
10. Data for Personalisation:
Collecting data through follow-up interactions lets you personalise future offerings, increasing the chances of making relevant customer recommendations.
11. Reduced Churn:
Churn, or the rate customers leave your business, can be reduced through effective follow-up strategies. This can stabilise your customer base.
12. Sustainable Growth:
Over time, consistent and thoughtful follow-up can contribute to sustainable business growth by nurturing existing customers alongside acquiring new ones.
While the exact impact can vary based on industry, product, and customer demographics, focusing on these post-sales strategies can be a wise long-term investment that benefits your bottom line and reputation. It's about building trust, offering value, and demonstrating a genuine commitment to your customers' satisfaction.
Thank you for reading this week’s blog. The blog shall return.