Your contact with your customer shouldn’t end when they receive the product they bought from you. If you want your customers to remain loyal, you need to have a sound post-sales process so you can maintain a relationship with them. Today’s article describes a post-sales process that you can use as a guide to design your own post-sales process for your site.
All of your marketing and sales efforts are all ideally geared toward getting your prospects to buy from you.
But your contact with your customers shouldn’t end when you’ve delivered your product. After they’ve completed the transaction, it’s on you to make sure they’re satisfied so they remain your customers.
Post-sales activities focus on helping your customers get the most out of the product they bought from you and maintain a great relationship with them.
In today’s blog post, I’m going to detail the aspects of a post-sales process that will help you keep your customers.
A post-sales process is a series of tasks that you perform after your customer buys a product from you. Once your customer receives the product from you, that’s when your post-sales process kicks in.
But why can’t the process end with the actual sale? Isn’t the sale the ultimate goal? Why do you need to have a process beyond that?
1. It strengthens your relationship with your customers.
Perhaps the most important purpose of an effective post-sales process is that it ensures that your customers are satisfied with your product and their overall buying experience.
Providing excellent product support and customer service guarantees that your customers make the most out of the product they bought from you.
2. It builds your reputation.
When you meet your customers’ needs and solve their pain points sufficiently, that enhances their opinion of you and that results in a positive word of mouth. Recommendations from existing customers can actually be more influential than other types of promotion, such as through social media or through advertising.
3. It improves your product.
This may be an indirect result, but getting plenty of useful feedback is a great way to know what you need to keep and what you need to improve in terms of your actual product.
4. It compels you to evaluate your target audience, product, and entire sales process.
When you’ve been selling for a while, you get comfortable with your process and you might think that as long as your entire process is working, there’s no need to take a look at it again.
But e-commerce is a fast-moving industry, and a process that works today may not be working tomorrow. Continual evaluation of all your processes enables you to survive the constantly changing e-commerce industry.
The first system you need to have in place, and should even probably start during product creation, is a product support system.
Your main aim when providing product support is to help your customer understand your product so that they know how to use your product such that they maximize the value of your product.
Here are some pointers for providing product support.
Create a resource page on your website specifically for your product. Depending on your product, this can be a simple FAQ or a full-blown product manual. You can even have the option of providing a PDF format in addition to the webpage format.
Having a specific page to provide to customers will save you some time from answering simple queries. The time you save can be put into answering more complicated or technical concerns.
Focus on benefits when creating content related to product support. The reasons why they bought the product are likely based on the benefits you stressed to your customers, so these are the benefits and features that you need to focus on explaining carefully to your customers.
Have a clear, concise return or refund policy for broken or damaged products. Be transparent on the terms, requirements, and what your customers need to do for them to return damaged products for them to get a refund. Ensure that your policy uses clear, straightforward language and that the policy favors your customer; that is, don’t make it hard for them to follow the policy.
Honor money-back guarantees. Money-back guarantees are particularly useful for digital products where returns aren’t really applicable yet there’s a chance that they can be dissatisfied with your product for whatever reason.
The usual timeframe for money-back guarantees is 30 days, but depending on your product you can set it shorter (e.g., 14 days) or longer (60 days). No matter the timeframe, make sure to always honor it.
Get back to product support inquiries as soon as you possibly can. When your customer sends a product support inquiry, every minute it’s unresolved is one minute that they’re less than satisfied with your product. Address concerns and problems as soon as you can, within 12 hours if possible.
If you find yourself scrambling frantically to answer all these inquiries, you might need to look into hiring some freelancers or even a full-time employee to help you reply to these inquiries quickly.
Customer service involves taking care of your customers’ needs by providing and delivering valuable service and assistance before, during, and after the customers’ requirements are met.
Customer service covers your entire sales process, from pre-sales to closing to post-sales, and even product support counts towards customer service.
But customer service is most significant during the post-sales process because once your customers have received their products, the quality of your customer service is then a huge deciding factor of whether your customer will be a repeat customer or not.
Satisfied customers become loyal advocates and make for great advertising. Also, happy customers will give you honest, constructive feedback on multiple aspects of your business.
Communicate clearly and plainly. No one likes getting the runaround. When having conversations with your customers, go straight to the point and use language that’s easy to understand.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There will be times that your customers’ concerns won’t be obvious at the onset or on their initial contact. It’s now your job to dig deeper and ask probing questions.
Remain professional and polite whatever happens. No matter how agitated or combative your customers are, never lose your cool. Remain professional in your tone and your word choice. Being polite without being condescending goes a long way toward defusing a potentially tense conversation.
Be positive. Using positive language doesn’t mean you should act cheerful when your customers are having issues; it means using phrases that are constructive and inspire positive action.
Positive phrasing tells what could be done instead of what can’t be done, suggests alternatives instead of placing blame, and emphasizes positive actions and rewards that they can anticipate getting instead of pointing out the negative consequences.
For example, starting a sentence with “You claim that…” implies that they’re lying, while starting a sentence with “As I understand it…” implies that you read what they’re saying and you’re attempting to comprehend them.
Be honest. Part of being straightforward and transparent is being absolutely truthful in all your communications. Never promise anything you can’t deliver, and always follow through on your word.
Don’t let them go until you’ve solved your customers’ concern. From your perspective, all these customers are asking the same questions and having the same issues. But for your customers, their issues are individually important to them. Treat these issues as such, and make it a habit to confirm with your customers whether you’ve resolved their issues to their satisfaction.
strong>Document everything. Log screenshots, email trails, chat transcripts, and everything else you can possibly record (except probably for phone calls; you might not be legally allowed to record calls with customers).
This information allows you to see if there are any issues that the majority of your customers are experiencing so you can do something about it. Having meticulous records also allows you to review how you communicate with your customers and look for points of improvement.
These logs also serve as proof in case you ever get feedback that you never got back to a customer when you actually did, or when customers allege that you promised something when you never did.
Use the right tools. If you’re in this by yourself, you might not want to have customers call you; not because you’re not committed to customer service but simply because it’s not practical for your business.
Social media is actually a great venue for customer service, but only if you actually engage with them. Live chat is also a good venue for customer service, but again, only if you set proper expectations for the turnaround time.
You can also set up a discussion forum area in your website to crowdsource answers to common questions and concerns about your product, which can also serve as a resource page for your new and potential customers.
Finally, email support is also a good tool for customer service, as probably everyone who orders products online would have an email address and would use emails to communicate.
Make it easy for your customers to contact you. Include your social media, emails, and other contact details in your confirmation emails and any correspondence with your customers.
Getting customer feedback helps you know your customers better and incorporate necessary changes in your product, process, and customer service for customer satisfaction.
Customer feedback is important because while customer-initiated comments and assessments are very useful, you can’t rely solely on them. It is said that for every customer who bothers to complain, 20 other customers remain silent. These silently dissatisfied customers likely wouldn’t come back to your website and you won’t see them again.
Here some ways to gather customer feedback:
Treat feedback as the start of a dialogue. Receiving feedback shouldn’t be the end of your interaction with your customers; instead, consider it as the start of a constructive conversation.
Ask the right questions. If you want useful answers, you’ll have to ask useful questions. Here are some examples to get you started.
Make it easy and fun to answer your questions. Answering surveys is optional; your customers can always choose not to do it. Simplify your questions and use as few questions as you possibly can.
Also, try to incorporate some humor when writing your questions. Just make sure there aren’t any off-color jokes; you’re not a stand-up comedian, you’re just trying to make them smile.
Offer incentives. Answering surveys is an inconvenience; a slight one, but an inconvenience nonetheless. If you can provide some kind of gift or freebie, your customers might be more inclined to answer surveys, especially the longer ones.
Use the customer feedback you receive wisely. Positive and negative feedback are both tremendously useful for your business. You can use positive feedback as a benchmark of what you’re doing right. Also, you can use positive feedback as a social proof of your product, with the respondents’ permission.
Negative feedback can actually be more useful. Unflattering comments about your products or anything else about the customer experience help you identify points of improvement.
In addition, negative comments or posts given publicly, such as on social media or public forums, are opportunities to display professionalism. Apologize, respond to their feedback, rectify the situation, and end on a hopeful note that you’ve resolved their issue.
If your post-sales process doesn’t end in self-assessment, all of it would have been for naught.
Take time every month to look at your post-sales data and analyze them.
Assess your product. Are your buyers happy? Do they feel like the features are useful to them? Are their pain points addressed by your product? Do they like using it? Would they recommend your product to others?
Assess your entire sales process. Were your market research and product research spot on? Were your marketing efforts effective? Did you attract the right audience for your product?
Assess your target audience. Are your customers satisfied with your website, product, and your communications with them? Are you still meeting their needs? Ultimately, are you still targeting the right people?
An effective post-sales process allows you to support your customers to get the most out of your product, foster customer loyalty, and get feedback to help you improve your business. All of these go toward customer retention.
When you’re delving in e-commerce, you want more customers because that increases sales that increases your profit. Since it’s harder and costlier to acquire new customers than keep existing ones, customer retention should be one of your goals.
Below is a recap of what’s involved in an powerful post-sales process.
Hopefully, this post-sales process helps you keep your customers coming back to your website.
Are you thinking about your post-sales process? Do you think you have an effective one? Talk to us in the comments!
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.