Posted October 21, 2022

Build your business -- After-sales service tips to keep customers happy

Nine effective ways to endear your brands with new and returning customers.

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 renters/buyers.

One way to do this is through quality customer service. Research has found that customers who received a high-quality customer service interaction were 82 percent more likely to repurchase or renew when offered the chance to switch to a competitor. These customers were also 86 percent more likely to spend more on future purchases and 97 percent 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.

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 rental or purchase. The aim of after-sales service is to keep your customers happy and engaged with your brand.

It can include all the support and resources you provide customers after a sale. This could mean checking in with the customer and asking for feedback, having reliable customer support options and providing high-quality how-to guides.

After-sales service shows your customers that your brand cares in a time when consumer trust in brands is a powerful differentiator. Research shows that 68 percent of customers are willing to pay up to 15 percent 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.

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.

Here are 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. It’s easy to automate personalized thank-you notes to customers and with very little time or resources, you can put a smile on your customers’ faces and keep them engaged.

Thank-you notes can be combined with other engagement elements, such as a link to relevant product information or a guide on your website.

Take that thank-you to the next level by contacting your new customer within two weeks of their rental/purchase and check in to see how they’re finding the product and your overall service. This shows your customers you care and you receive valuable feedback that can be used to improve service going forward.

2. Provide pre-installation services. Pre-installation or training services include anything that helps your customer use or operate your product. Some items are more complicated or require technical expertise to install, assemble or operate. In this case, provide demonstrations in person or with videos.

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 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. The most common form of online support is an email address designated for customer inquiries. However, real-time online support, whether it’s chat, forums and/or a social media channel, is becoming popular. Automated chatbots can navigate customers to information or connect them with customer service reps.

4. Give customers initial 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. In these cases, businesses offer user training as a post-sale/rental service to teach end-users how to safely and efficiently use the product.

Training adds extensive value to your product and can improve customer satisfaction for a long time after the rental/sale. With training, customers 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 customer value. If your product is complex or has several nuanced uses, providing an onboarding tutorial can be a great way to keep your customer engaged and satisfied. By providing customers with the resources and information they need, they’re less likely to seek outside sources. This helps build a long-term customer relationship with them, improving your chances of future rentals/sales.

6. Provide warranties, replacements and returns. Warranty services allow customers to repair, replace or refund their rental/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 the length of rental or three years. Some companies also offer extended warranties that can increase the amount of time the warranty is applicable. Many companies will allow customers to replace or return items if they met 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 from the competition.

7. Offer bonuses and upgrades. Added features are a common after-rental/sales tactic that allows customers to access free or paid upgrades to their product or service after their original rental/purchase. Many companies offer tiered subscriptions or additional services that can be purchased optionally. Done right, this helps broaden your market as you target different customer needs with your product.

8. Ask for customer feedback. 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 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. 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. There are several simple things you can do to improve your after-sales service and delight customers, including:

Personalized messaging. Sending customers a nice message on their birthday, a holiday or anniversary is a great way to show you care and remind them of your brand. These messages can be coupled with coupons or call to actions, which can nudge them toward a second purchase.

Coupons and referral vouchers. After a rental/sale, send that new customer a thank-you note with a coupon for their next rental/sale. Or send them an email offering them a discount or bonus if they invite a friend to sign up.

Final thoughts
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 after-sales service strategy will provide endless returns in the form of customer retention, great referrals and a positive brand image.

The authors of this adapted article work at Pipedrive, which develops and markets customer relationship management tools.

This article originally appeared in the November-December 2022 issue of Pro Contractor Rentals magazine. ©2022 Urbain Communications. All rights reserved.