What is After-Sales Service: definition, types, benefits

Even a tiny increase in customer retention may result in a profit boost of up to 95%, and it’s not just because satisfied clients come back to make more purchases. 90% of them are willing to share information about a beloved brand, which leads to larger audiences and higher revenues

To reduce the churn rate, a company should create a successful customer experience. And good after-sales support is one of the components upon which the success of your brand hinges.

What is an after-sales service?

After-sales service or support is any assistance that a company gives to its clients after they’ve purchased a product. This may refer to equipment maintenance, warranties, exchange and return policies, etc. 

As to non-material products, like software or services, after-sales support includes consultancies, training, upgrades, and much more.

Why is it essential to provide after-sales support to customers?

Today’s markets are overheated — supply exceeds demand, and consumers now choose among numerous alternatives of similar quality. Competition becomes fierce, and it’s no longer enough for a company to just offer another product on the market. 

Instead, brand attributes, like exceptional customer service, product availability, exclusivity, and reliability, are coming to the fore, as seen in the PwC 2021 Consumer Survey:

Top brand attributes
Top brand attributes (Source: PwC)

This fact reflects the overall rising demand for custom solutions and content personalization — when people don’t want a one-size-fits-all solution but something that would satisfy all of their specific pain points and needs. 

This is where excellent after-sales support helps businesses:

  • Add extra value to the deal or brand.
    When you lead a customer toward a purchase, every small detail can become crucial. Say, you manage a notary business and provide consultancy services every day, including Sundays. If none of your peers work on weekends, this may result in people preferring working with your company because of the extra convenience it offers. 
  • Occupy a unique niche in the market.
    Consider a MacBook example. This laptop is way more expensive than other options, like ones from HP or Samsung, but the high price isn’t an obstacle to the demand. Apple doesn’t position MacBooks as luxurious analogs to other computers — the company states there are NO substitutes in terms of innovation and UX on the market. Thus, when people pay extra money for it, they do so to have the fewest manual settings, receive regular updates, and have access to countless tools.
  • Diversify faster and with fewer risks.
    When there’s a need to develop, one of the options is to grow vertically and use obtained expertise and capacities. Consider the Amazon example: the company started as an online music and video seller, then dived into retail, and, as a result, became a global marketplace for pretty much all kinds of goods.
  • Earn more.
    Yes, after-sales support is all about being mindful of clients and ensuring they have the best customer experience ever, but it also helps you get that extra revenue. Some companies cash in on support even more than on products themselves. Vendors on the B2B market, e.g., suppliers of equipment for cafes, earn money primarily on recurrent maintenance and provisioning.
Email drip campaigns

Types of after-sales services

Warranty

This is a free-of-charge repair or replacement of a product during a specified period after the purchase. Warranties are common for appliance manufacturers and stores. 

Subscription-based businesses, e.g., software providers, offer warranties as well, but in the form of money refunds after cancellations. For example, when users buy an app in the Chrome Web Store, they have a right to cancel a purchase within 30 minutes with no charges to their credit cards. After the time has expired, they can still apply for a refund by contacting the app’s developer via Google Play.

Insurance

A company may offer partially free coverage to a client. This practice is common among tourist agencies when they contract insurance firms on behalf of their travelers.

Training

Video tutorials, audio lectures, reports, manuals, and whitepapers are surefire methods to establish long-term relationships with customers. In some cases, e.g. for medical supply companies, instructions and after-sales consultancies are high-priority services. But buyers’ ongoing training is a worthy practice and a good POC for companies from all niches.

24/7 support

This may be in the form of a chatbot, live chat, a dedicated hotline, personal manager or consultant, etc. Ongoing support helps timely detect usability issues and collect ideas about further product improvements.

Upgrades

Accessibility to new product versions is another way a company can build loyalty. Many vehicle manufacturers, like Toyota or Skoda, offer trade-in deals, so that a customer can buy the next-generation car model at a reduced price.

Extra benefits

Providing customers with a little more than what they paid for increases loyalty like nothing else. Perks may include unlimited data storing, free access to content or media, early notifications about new comings, money vouchers, etc. 

For example, paid plans from a popular Wix CMS come with various promotional vouchers, e.g., a $75 voucher that a subscriber can spend on Google Ads to promote their website.

How to build an excellent after-sales service system?

Every company has a unique recipe for how to treat customers, but there are a few cherished best practices for improving after-sales services:

  • Staying proactive.
    It’s important to foresee and eliminate potential usability issues and provide a service that improves user experience.
  • Using more communication channels.
    An email alone may not be enough to interact with clients; you have to think of more flexible means, like AI-enhanced chatbots.
  • Aligning efforts.
    Technical departments, like IT or Support, should be closely tied with Sales and Marketing, so a company can timely respond to customer requests.

After-sales support is a system, not an isolated activity. It’s part of the customer relationship management strategy, and if a company claims to be a caring business, after-sales services are something that can prove it.

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