The Post-Sales Customer Experience: Keep the Romance Going
July 15, 2018
by David Abbou
At what point do online retailers and eCommerce businesses truly know their optimization efforts are succeeding? If you’re thinking about high conversion and retention rates, low bounce and cart abandonment rates, and other critical sales funnel KPIs, you’re definitely not wrong.
But your customer’s journey doesn’t end after checkout when they enter their payment details and click ‘buy’ – rather it’s much more like the spark you feel after going out on a great first date. And just like in real-life relationships, the point of sale is simply that – a great start that can turn into something more meaningful. For your customer relationship to reach its potential you need to focus on their needs post-sale to start going steady, and continue nurturing it at every touchpoint for them to say ‘I do’ to your brand for the long-term. If you can help blossom the relationship into love, you can impact retention and loyalty, and boost Average Order Value (AOV) and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
Making your brand shine among the many options online customers have today means investing in the relationship and nurturing it both online and offline. Just like building a happy and successful personal relationship, online shoppers today need to feel that their needs are being tended to, their loyalty is appreciated, and that they can feel secure their partner – your company – has their back and will support them when things don’t go just right.
The brands with the most loyal customer bases today know that after-sales customer touchpoints are just as critical to success as all of the stages of the journey that took place before them.
Here are some key post-sales customer touchpoints that are opportunities for online retailers to build long-lasting and profitable customer relationships:
Trust is a must-have for customers at any stage of their journey with your brand, but this is especially critical when you’re trying to win over online customers and earn their repeat business. Delivery is one after-sales customer touchpoint where stability and trust are truly tested and where online bands must follow through on their promises.
In our 2018 Consumer Behavior Study, we asked over 1,300 online consumers about the top reasons that most influence their buying decisions – and fast delivery was selected by over 75% of online shoppers surveyed.
Many leading online retailers have already begun to heed the call and make faster delivery a top priority. With their recent $550 million acquisition of Shipt, Target is investing heavily into making same-day delivery a reality for its customers.
Customers also don’t like to be left hanging about when they will receive their delivery. TUMI’s chief digital officer Charlie Cole explained in an interview how leveraging tools that give customers closure on their delivery ETA can is helping them avoid friction with their customer service departments and save resources:
“We’ve invested in a technology solution called Narvar that layers a piece of AI to allow you to instantly get an estimated delivery date for your product. This might seem like a relatively small detail but it brought significant results and our customer service calls have consequently decreased by 20 percent.”
Optimizing delivery time is very much part of a larger fulfillment strategy for many large online retailers, who must identify cost-effective and logistically sound solutions.
To accomplish this, e-tail pioneer QVC and several large brick-and-mortar retailers have moved to a drop shipping strategy where they no longer need to stock inventory and instead leverage third parties suppliers to fulfill orders. This allows them to offer a wide variety of products online while focusing on their core operations, ultimately getting products into the hands of customers faster.
Cuddling after the sale: Retain customers by giving them that post-sales personal touch Click To Tweet
In the past, offline world, customer retention best practices often involved a call from a sales rep to ensure they were happy with their recent purchase, letting them know about that hot new item or promotion, and giving them the opportunity to take advantage of those items at a discounted price.
Today, online brands virtualize this personal touch using their email and online engagement channels. The first step is a welcome email, which is a great opportunity to ask customers if ‘everything is ok’ with their purchase, and give them an easy way to get in touch if they need any help. If your customers do have questions or concerns, that process should also be fast and simple. Don’t make them fill out a generic customer support form that deters their feedback and turns them off from communicating with you – give them the ability to reply directly.
The next step is to let customers know how much you appreciate their business and incentivize them with relevant and timely promotions. Use behavioral data to send them a personalized offer for a related product to show them you’ve been listening to their interests all along. Send them a time-sensitive email offer that’s aligned with your sales strategy. For example, you can let them know about a new arrival or exclusive promotion and give them 48 hours to be one of the first get their hands on it. Send them a relevant, time-sensitive, and discounted promotion to make them feel valued and entice repeat business.
‘In good times and in bad’: After-sales service and customer support are unique opportunities for online retailers Click To Tweet
Nurturing your customers throughout the fulfillment process is just as important as optimizing their buyer journey. Happy customers don’t just refer their friends and family members to brands because they like their products – they do so because they also received great service when something actually did go wrong with a purchase and they needed help.
There are several post-sales issues where it’s absolutely critical retailers let their customers know they are there for them, including repairs, returns or exchanges.
But it’s precisely scenarios like these that are also a great opportunity for online retailers with a large offline footprint to differentiate themselves within the market.
Explains Cole in our ebook:
“When the Amazons, Alibabas and Zalandos of the world sell you something, they cross their fingers for 30 days, and once the product is in the customer’s hands, they forget about it. They don’t have a warranty or a repair division — that’s not the kind of business they want to be in. That presents a tremendous advantage for a company that sells durable goods like TUMI or Samsonite. If we can offer customers a level of post-sales support in a way that no one else can, then that’s where we can truly differentiate ourselves.”
Brands investing in optimizing both their online and offline service and support, and taking the hassle out of returns and exchanges will earn a level of trust and credibility with customers that’s hard to match and is rarely forgotten.
Optimizing the customer journey after the purchase will build a long-term relationship, boost loyalty and retention, and have them loving – and promoting – your brand well into the future.