Are you taking care of your customers after the sale?
While some companies still view after-sales support as a distraction, as an unnecessary evil, or as a drag on resources, many leading brands have found ways of efficiently providing after-sales support — yes, even multilingual after-sales support — to drive additional sales and increase their engagement with consumers worldwide. These companies are offering a suite of services that grows and changes over the customer engagement lifecycle, while nevertheless minimizing their support costs.
Let’s talk then about the costs, investments, and opportunities presented by after-sales support and how your company can build a model program that can be repeated across international markets and product lines.
Why do businesses say no to after-sales support?
An exercise that I like to do is to think of the verbs associated with investment and compare them with the verbs associated with cost. When we’re talking about investment, we’re talking about increasing, growing, and developing — these are all positive verbs. The verbs associated with cost are cutting, eliminating, and reducing. These negative words are regularly associated with the after-sales support side of the product lifecycle; being on the support side is usually not a fun place to be.
Let’s be honest. Companies that want to attract new clients and sell new products see winning new customers as an investment. That means that little is left when it comes to after-sales budgets or that after-sales support is usually spread across multiple budgets as a cost.
It comes as no surprise then that we’ve heard from clients that they don’t want to bear the burden of multilingual support costs and that they don’t want to dedicate scarce talent for this function. The after-sales support is seen as a distraction from larger corporate goals — they want their teams busy generating money not managing a cost. Ultimately, what our clients want us to do is to help them make this pain go away.
Because clients can be easily distracted by other bright shiny objects, high customer turnover is a real risk for many companies, especially those that offer low-priced consumer electronics, such as cameras and computers.
Why focus on after-sales support then?
You want to keep your customers and have repeatable and measurable support processes across your geographies.
You want to invest in the brand experience and make sure that your clients feel good about their product purchases.
You want to use after-sales support as an opportunity to sell related services or cross-sell other products.
After-sales support then is really relevant for brands that want to increase their potential for repeat customers. It’s also relevant for businesses that see international expansion as a key element of their growth strategy. Where customer support has been a significant cost on total revenue, the most successful companies actually manage to convert this cost into a revenue stream by selling different levels of service and by using after-sales data as business intelligence for the development of new products, services, and customer experiences.
The New Bottom Line
Ultimately, we have to see the issue of after-sales support from the client side. In today’s business context, where social media dominates the marketing conversation and customers use platforms like Twitter and Facebook to share their brand experiences (joys and headaches!), it’s unsurprising that many clients expect their purchases to include a continued support experience and a relationship with the brand. They don’t want to have a bad aftertaste or to feel like their brand is putting them out on the curb like garbage the moment right after the sale.
For customers around the world, and for the brands that serve them, after-sales support can be an opportunity to connect to, extend, and build upon a complete brand experience. I’ll be discussing all facets of this — from trends in international after-sales support to techniques for getting the most from your multilingual customer service investment — over a series of additional posts. Share your questions for me below!