Excellent customer service is critical to the long-term success of any company. Often one differentiator is how a company handles after-sales support.
While there are no set rules that dictate how to deliver great customer service, a robust omnichannel customer service strategy is key to success.
Many sellers fall into the trap of believing that once a sale is completed, the sales cycle for that particular customer is finished. After all, once the payments have been processed and delivery has been made, the seller can mark the transaction as successful, right?
While it's tempting to simply step back from the customer once they've completed their sale, doing so means missing out on multiple opportunities to secure a repeat customer, upsell or cross-sell, and amplify brand awareness.
Strong after-sales support can generate positive buzz about a company, product or brand through social media channels, and head off any negative messaging from customers who are less than satisfied with their experiences. After-sales support can also dramatically reduce the cost of each sale by developing a stable roster of repeat customers. Selling to a new client or consumer costs anywhere from five to 25 times more than it does to sell to an existing client, and that can make a dramatic difference to your bottom line.
The right after-sales support strategy depends largely on the brand, sales cycle and cost of acquisition. Regardless of the product or service, a well-developed omnichannel approach to customer service is widely regarded as the best approach to post-sale customer service and support.
Omnichannel customer service is a collection of forward-facing interactions between the customer or prospect and the seller or service provider. It's a strategy that revolves around the customer by unifying all sales, marketing and support messaging across all channels into a unified, seamless approach.
In the past, customers who had a problem with a product would often struggle to find out how to get help from the retailer or manufacturer. This usually triggered a series of frustrating interactions between the consumer and the brand while the consumer was bounced from department to department in search of tech support or assistance. These interactions treated each situation in isolation, leading to a lack of brand confidence on the part of the consumer.
Omnichannel customer service focuses on the customer instead of the product or service.
Omnichannel and multichannel are often thought to be the same thing, but there are a number of distinct differences between these two strategies. Simply put, a multichannel approach revolves around your products. While somewhat flexible, the focus of multichannel is squarely on the product, or the sale, and customer interactions are seen as secondary. This is why multichannel doesn't translate well to customer service. Instead of revolving around the customer, the customer is expected to revolve around the product or service.
By comparison, omnichannel is a fully immersive, customer-centric approach that prioritizes customer experiences before, during and after every transaction. It's sometimes referred to as the 'no wrong door' approach to customer service since customers are empowered to seek assistance through any channel that works for them.
Omnichannel customer service lets customers seek help in a way that meets their individual needs. This can include enabling mobile interactions by activating responsive technologies that work on smartphones and tablets, providing live chat and maintaining an accurate, user-friendly FAQ section that addresses the most common pain points for consumers.
To develop an after-sales support strategy that meets the needs of your customers and prospects, start by understanding those needs. Consider conducting a customer survey to analyze what type of post-sale support your clients want, and compile data that captures the current state of your after-sales support performance.
Customers who are comfortable completing eCommerce transactions generally prefer online communication through email, live chat and instant messaging over a phone call.
Enabling a live chat function meets the needs of your customers while providing them with an easy entry point to your customer service team. Many incidents where unhappy customers take to social media to escalate their issues with a company or brand can be avoided if the brand is responsive. This is an important part of brand reputation management.
Don't wait for the customer to contact you— reach out shortly after the sale to verify that the product arrived in good condition, thank the customer for their business, and give the customer the chance to raise any concerns directly with you.
Few things are more frustrating for a customer than being excluded from sales and promotions simply because they've already patronized a company. Many businesses make the mistake of focusing their promotions on new customers while ignoring their existing clientele. Be sure to deliver ongoing after-sales support by periodically sending out customer loyalty offers to those who have already interacted with your brand.
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