Landing a sale from a new customer is one part of increasing revenue, but it isn’t the whole story. To scale your business, you need to turn customers into repeat buyers.
One way to do this is through quality customer service. Gartner found that customers who received a high-quality customer service interaction were 82% more likely to repurchase or renew when offered the chance to switch to a competitor.
These customers were also 86% more likely to spend more on future purchases and 97% more likely to share their positive experiences.
If you want repeat customers and you want those customers to prove their loyalty by spreading the word, focus on providing excellent after-sales service.
In this article, we’ll explain what after-sales service is and how you can use it to drive sales and increase customer loyalty. We also list nine tips and some high-level strategies you can use to make your after-sales service exceptional.
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What is after-sales service?
The after-sales service definition is the set of actions you take to follow up with your customers after they’ve made a purchase. After-sales service and customer satisfaction are closely linked. The aim of after-sales service is to keep your customers happy and engaged with your brand.
It can include all of the support and resources you provide your customers after a sale. This could mean checking in with your customer and asking for feedback, having reliable customer support options and providing high-quality how-to guides.
In one after-sales service example, a new learning platform could provide excellent after-sales service by sending a personalized follow-up email to see how setup is going. They could offer a demo walkthrough or use automated solutions to help customers get started. They could also send out an email drip campaign teaching customers how to get the most out of their new platform.
There are many ways to deliver after-sales service, meaning support extends beyond the sales team. Service after the sale can be provided by the retailer, manufacturer, customer service, chatbot or a training provider. It’s often included as part of the overarching marketing strategy.
The key reason that most businesses focus on after-sales support is that it increases brand loyalty and customer retention. Thinking back to the Gartner survey, the better service your customers receive, the more likely they are to stick around and spend more with your company.
Let’s explore this a little further.
How excellent after-sales service drives sales and increases brand value
After-sales service shows your customers that your brand cares in a time when consumer trust in brands is a powerful differentiator. It can help drive revenue in four ways: Customer satisfaction, customer retention, increased referrals and creating a great brand image.
It keeps your customers happy
In the online age, a great product with terrible customer service won’t last long. Bad reviews and low star ratings can spell disaster for even the most well-built products.
However, if you back up your great product with excellent customer service both pre- and post-sale, you have a formula for life-long customers.
Exceed the expectations of your customers and ensure they aren’t left with questions or roadblocks to using your product. Intervene quickly at potential barriers to thwart negative feelings before they can take root (e.g. through live chat, chatbots or pop-up guided assistance).
Keep in touch with customers and provide them with great resources and customer service, so they’ll not only stick around but spread positive stories about your business, too.
Increase your customer loyalty
Happy, loyal customers spend more and buy products more often than new customers. If you treat your existing customers well, they’ll choose you over other companies when they’re next looking to make a purchase.
For example, a customer using a consultancy service to enhance their app’s digital experience might feel delighted by a proactive consultant that sends materials and resources ahead of their meetings, shows up on time, answers questions quickly and repeatedly demonstrates their expertise.
Consider this the other way around: the less happy your customers feel with their after-sales service, the more likely your customers are to try a competitor the next time they make a purchase.
If the consultant in the example above left the customer with more questions than answers and failed to build confidence in their services, the customer would be more likely to approach another consultant next time they need support.
Increase positive word-of-mouth referrals
Happy customers are essentially marketers for your brand. Satisfied and loyal customers are more likely to tell their friends and family about your brand and products.
Customers like to find out about other people’s experiences before they purchase a product or service. Friends and family are among the most trusted sources of information for most people, and hearing good news about a company can mean the difference between purchasing from them or heading to a competitor.
Research shows that 68% of customers are willing to pay up to 15% more for the same product if they’re sure that they’ll have a better experience with that company.
If you provide great after-sales service, your satisfied customers will bring in more business through positive word-of-mouth referrals.
Improve your brand image
A customer’s interactions with you shape their perceptions of your brand, from when they first heard of your brand to well after they’ve purchased your product. A positive post-sales experience can help your customer think of your brand as familiar and trustworthy, leading to increased customer loyalty and sales.
Excellent after-sales service is how you can set your business apart from your competitors. People will begin to see you as a helpful and trustworthy brand which will ensure that your customers keep coming back.
9 essential after-sales service tips
As we’ve seen, after-sales service is crucial if you want to keep your customers happy and increase customer retention. Now, we’ll cover the crucial steps to providing a brag-worthy after-sales service.
1. Show your appreciation
“Thank you” notes add a personal touch to a customer’s purchase, letting them know you’re grateful that they chose your company. The more personal, the better. You can send “thank you” notes via email or even as a handwritten note inside the package or on the invoice.
It’s easy to automate personalized “thank you” notes to your customers, meaning that with very little time or resources, you can put a smile on your customers’ faces and keep them engaged.
Even better, “thank you” notes can be combined with other engagement elements, like a link to relevant product information or a guide on your website. This way, you can prompt your customer toward providing feedback or even making a second purchase.
Depending on your industry, you can take this to another level with a brief follow-up. Contact your new customer within two weeks of their purchase and check in to see how they’re finding the product and your overall service. This lets you do two things at once: show your customers you care and receive valuable feedback that you can use to improve your service going forward.
For example, check out this “thank you” email from Tradesy:
Tradesy’s “thank you” email is a great example of customer service excellence.
The best thing about Tradesy’s email is that it gives all of the information that a customer needs after making a purchase, including how long it will take to arrive, where to track the progress and how they can be contacted 24/7 if needed. To top it off, they offer an enticing referral program where both the referrer and referee can earn a voucher.
2. Provide pre-installation services
Pre-installation services include anything that helps your customer install or put together your product. Depending on your product, this could be an installation manual or a technical sheet. Almost all companies provide pre-installation services free of charge.
An example of this is buying furniture from a store like Ikea. The item comes with a small booklet that outlines each piece that should be present and then takes you through how to assemble it.
Some items are more complicated or require technical expertise to install or assemble. In this case, companies may demonstrate how to install the product (e.g. in a link to a demo video).
Airtable provides an entire demo video library on YouTube to help its customers get started. Here’s an example where they break down setting up Airtable’s workspace into five bite-sized steps.
Pre-installation services address a major pain point in the customer journey, which is how to use the product they have bought. You can preempt their frustration by providing them with everything they need to use your product, along with an excellent customer service line if things go wrong.
3. Have excellent customer service
Customer service is the direct link between your customers and your business and helps to retain customers and remove frustration from their journey. This can include any kind of help desk or call center support that customers can access when they have an inquiry.
This can be supplemented with online customer support, too. The most common form of online support is an email address designated for customer inquiries. However, real-time online support, whether that's across chat, forums and/or a social media channel, is becoming popular. For instance, helpful automated chatbots can help navigate customers to relevant information or connect them with customer service reps.
Pipedrive’s Sales and Marketing Community is a forum where you can connect with like-minded sales and marketing professionals to improve your skills, bolster your productivity, gain access to new Pipedrive features and learn how to use them. Our Chatbot, meanwhile, is a tool that enables you to engage leads and customers alike.
4. Give your customers initial user training
Depending on how much expertise is required to use your product, the customer may need training. Usually, training is needed where the product is dangerous or could be easily broken through misuse, such as industrial machinery or medical equipment.
In these cases, businesses often offer user training as a post-sale service to teach end-users how to handle the product.
A great example is Google’s AdWords Online Classroom. When you sign up for AdWords, you’re sent a link to Google’s online learning portal. The Online Classroom walks you through everything you need to know about Google Ads, from setting up your account to optimizing your campaigns to target the most engaged customers.
Another example is Pipedrive’s Academy, which is a resource for every Pipedrive user, whether they’re a new trialist or a seasoned pro who wants to learn about a new feature or add-on. Here’s the first video in our course about Pipedrive’s new email communications add-on Campaigns:
Training adds extensive value to your product and can improve customer satisfaction for a long time after the sale. By providing training, your customers also get to see your expertise and helpfulness in action, contributing to your brand image.
5. Provide onboarding guides
Similar to providing training, onboarding guides can add substantial value to your product.
If your product is complex, or has several nuanced uses, providing a free onboarding tutorial can be a great way to keep your customer engaged and satisfied. This way you can avoid customers purchasing and downloading your software only to shelve it and tell their friends it was too complicated to get off the ground.
Onboarding guides are also a great opportunity to keep your customers engaged with your content. Many third-party websites and content creators provide tutorials on various products. While this can be helpful in increasing awareness of your brand and products, it also means you’re missing an opportunity to re-engage with them with your own content.
One way to provide user onboarding services is to use virtual walkthroughs. For example, here is how prototyping tool Justinmind guides new users through its interface.
If you provide your customers with the resources and information they need, it means they’re less likely to seek outside sources. This will help you build a long-term customer relationship with them, improving your chances of future sales.
6. Warranties, replacements and returns
Warranty services allow customers to repair, replace or refund their purchase in the case of damage. Generally, companies will provide a warranty, free or for purchase, that covers the product for a limited time, such as three years. Some companies also offer extended warranties that can increase the amount of time the warranty is applicable.
Many companies also allow customers to replace or return items if their query fulfills certain terms and conditions. No-fuss return policies, where products can be returned with little effort from the customer, are becoming increasingly popular to differentiate themselves from competitors (especially for online orders).
It’s not just retail offering returns. Here’s Zapier’s refund policy:
Having a good warranty and returns policy is a great way to build trust with your customers, particularly if your product is expensive. If they do have an issue and your customer service is faultless, they’ll be more likely to trust your company for future purchases.
7. Offer bonus advantages and upgrades
Added features are a common after-sales tactic that allows customers to access free or paid upgrades to their product or service after their original purchase.
An example of this is software updates for electronic devices. Companies like Apple, Microsoft and Android offer multiple years of free updates to their device’s software, providing added features and security.
Regarding paid upgrades, many companies offer tiered subscriptions or additional services that can be purchased optionally. Done right, this helps to broaden your market as you target different customer needs with your product.
For example, Airtable offers a Pro subscription that comes with several added features for users who want more out of their service. To tempt users to try the higher subscription, they include unobtrusive upgrade prompts within their app as well as in their newsletter that teases a handful of tips and tricks only available to Pro users.
8. Ask for customer feedback
Customer feedback is one of the most important things in sales and marketing. As you reach out to your customers and keep them engaged, you’ll find opportunities to seek feedback from them. This will help you to see where your product or service is hitting the mark and where it might be falling short.
There are many ways to collect customer feedback, such as pop-up surveys on a webpage or in an email campaign. You can also send personalized messages or request an interview for rich qualitative feedback.
As you continually reach out and improve your after-sales service, your customers will see you as a company that cares about their opinion and wants to provide a product that meets their needs.
Conversely, customers who have had a bad experience are likely to seek an outlet. This usually means that they’ll complain publicly via social media or a review website. However, if you reach these customers early, you may be able to solve their problems and prevent any public negative perceptions of your brand.
Likewise, it can be beneficial to invite your customers to share their positive experiences or post reviews and stories on your social media or website.
9. Go above and beyond with your after-sales service
While the above tips make up the nuts and bolts of after-sales service, there are several other simple things you can do to improve your after-sales service and delight your customers, including:
Personalized messaging. This is simple, but sending your customers a nice message when it’s their birthday, a holiday or an anniversary is a great way to show them you care and remind them of your brand. These messages are easy to automate and can be coupled with coupons or CTAs, which can nudge them toward a second purchase.
Unique packaging. Investing in high-quality and brand-appropriate packaging will help to set you apart from your competitors in the minds of your customers. The goal is to delight your customers, and packing your product in a way that gives them a burst of excitement and reminds them of your brand is a great way to do this.
Coupons and referral vouchers. You’ve just made a sale. Why not send that new customer a “thank you” note with a coupon for their next sale? If that doesn’t work for your brand or product, you could send them an email offering them a discount or bonus if they invite a friend to sign up. There are plenty of ways you can use this tactic to entice your customers to make another purchase.
3 strategies to provide value and delight your customers
Here, we’ll cover some of the high-level strategies you can use to ensure that your after-sales service fulfills its goal of providing value and retaining customers.
Provide targeted content
The goal of after-sales service is to maintain communication with your customer and keep them engaged with your brand. You can do this in several ways, including:
A regular email newsletter
Personalized emails for key dates and anniversaries
Relevant information such as articles, videos, guides and webinars that advertise new products or help them to make the most of things they’ve already purchased
By sending personalized content, you add value to their customer experience. Further, because you’re showing your expertise and providing them with all of the information they need, they are far less likely to leave your company for a competitor.
Make it up generously
Mistakes happen. Sometimes things go wrong in the manufacturing or shipping process that damages the product. Occasionally, an employee oversight results in delayed shipping or onboarding.
Over the lifespan of a company, these kinds of things will happen over and over again. The trick is to make it up to the customer generously when they do. If a customer makes a complaint, a customer service representative should be in touch with them as quickly as possible. If a product is broken or damaged, the corresponding sales professional should be able to exchange it immediately.
Taking your customer complaints seriously and treating them with respect is how you turn an unhappy customer into a returning one. In contrast, having a poor attitude is a surefire way to lose them forever.
Reward customer loyalty
Customer loyalty is often earned through the delightful experiences they have with a brand and we’ve covered how great after-sales service is one way to give them these experiences.
If you have a loyal customer who repeatedly returns to your company to do business, you can double down on this behavior by rewarding them for it with a loyalty program.
A loyalty program generally offers perks, gifts or discounts to customers in return for making repeat purchases. Generating a loyal customer base is an effective strategy to generate revenue and new leads through better word-of-mouth referrals.
If you choose to use a loyalty program, it should be as generous as possible. Your program should offer perks and benefits that are so good it makes perfect sense to join.
It’s normal to go into business focused on finding new customers, but ongoing success relies on the many benefits that loyal, satisfied customers bring to the table. Investing in an excellent after-sales service strategy will provide endless returns in the form of customer retention, great referrals and a positive brand image.