During and after-sales service

Providing great service during and after a sale shows your customers you want to build a long-term relationship with them, earn their loyalty and keep their business.

Customers remember businesses that provide great customer service, and are more likely to tell others about your business.

Learn techniques that will help you build better relationships with your customers at the point of sale and following the sale.

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What is during and after-sales service

During a sale many successful businesses use point-of-sale techniques to build customer relationships and grow profits.

After-sales service includes how you follow up after the customer has left, such as providing follow-up contact and dealing with complaints. Providing after-sales service keeps your customers coming back to you and encourages them to refer your business to others.

Selling strategies at the point of sale

Sales add-ons can enhance a product and increase the dollar value of your sales.

These might include:

  • up-selling
  • cross-selling.

Up-selling

Up-selling is suggesting a more profitable product and letting your customer know about the additional benefits they would receive by buying it. Make sure your up-selling suggestions meet your customer's needs to ensure you're maintaining customer trust and confidence in your business.

Consider these examples of up-selling.

You own a restaurant and notice some regular diners seem happier than usual. When you seat them, they let you know they are celebrating.

Later, as they order, they decide on 2 seafood main courses but can't decide on an entrée to share.

You suggest they share the experience of the $150 seafood platter. This is more profitable for your business, but also gives the diners a greater range of food to enjoy than their initial choices.

You own a furniture and appliance store and chat to a customer who wants to purchase a washing machine and dryer.

You suggest a washer-dryer combination package which is double the price of the original but has greater capacity, additional functions and greater energy- and water-saving efficiencies.

Cross-selling

Cross-selling is providing your customer with additional suggestions about the product or service they're considering or purchasing (also known as suggestive selling).

Make sure you and your staff understand related products and their features. Offering extended warranties can also be an effective cross-selling technique.

Consider these examples of cross-selling.

Your clothing boutique sells evening and formal gowns. Customers who previously purchased gowns from your boutique had to go elsewhere for shoes and accessories.

You decide to add accessories and shoes to your range to provide customers with a one-stop destination for a full outfit for their event.

This increases how much customers spend in your store, and gives you an additional marketing angle to appeal to time-poor customers.

You have just sold a customer a new computer. Your customer also mentions they are preparing to start a work-from-home microbusiness.

You ask if they need any extra equipment and prompt them by suggesting some of the other tools they may need, such as an office chair, network hub, keyboard or printer.

You make more profit off these extra items, and increased the chance of the customer returning to your store when they need something else for their home office.

Service strategies at the point of sale

Your customer service can add to a customer's experience and determine whether or not they buy from you again.

You could use the point-of-sale interaction to:

  • thank customers for their business
  • suggest related products or services that will enhance the customer's experience
  • invite them to join a loyalty program (possibly with immediate discounts on the purchase they're making)
  • explain return policies, especially if your guarantees, warranties and refunds policies offer more than the law requires
  • provide installation or after-care instructions
  • give your customers free product samples
  • share your contact details or business card, and collect customer details to add your contact database, mailing list or customer loyalty program
  • refer your customer to your social media or website to stay up to date with sales and promotions
  • offer gift wrapping or to help carry large products to the customer's car.

Learn more about becoming a customer-focused business.

After-sales follow up

Contacting your customers to follow up after you have sold them a high-value product or service demonstrates your commitment to customer service, builds customer loyalty and helps generate repeat sales and referrals. It also shows customers that you value their feedback or opinion.

To follow up after a sale, you could:

  • contact customers to ensure they are happy
  • give updates on delivery or service arrangements, or check that goods have been received
  • provide repairs, refunds and warranties
  • create opportunities for customer follow-up such as sales alerts
  • suggest add-ons to further enhance the customer's satisfaction with the product or service.

Aim to build an ongoing sales relationship with your customers and encourage them to refer your business to others. Following up with customers can also help you identify issues early, and potentially before they leave negative online or word-of-mouth reviews.

Consider these examples of good after-sales service.

You are a builder and have just completed building a customer's new home.

When handing over the keys, you notice the skip bin, now removed, has left a dusty mess all over the front yard.

Instead of calling the skip bin company or another tradesperson to return to clean up the mess, you use the garden hose to clean it off.

You are a hairdresser who recently cut and styled a customer's hair at your salon. At the end of the styling, the customer said they were not entirely happy with the colour. You offered to fix the issue, but they said they didn’t have time.

You follow up with a call a few days later and ask how they are feeling about the colour now and if they would like to return to have the colour altered for free.

A customer recently purchased a smart home device from your store.

During the sale, they said they weren't very confident with technology and that they would welcome a call from you after the sale to check on the successful installation.

You followed up with a call a few days later. The customer said the product didn't work and they were unable to get the devices working as expected.

You offer to refer them to a reputable installer who can attend the customer's home at a fixed rate to troubleshoot and fix any issues.

Building customer loyalty

Most customers appreciate personalised care and attention. Remembering your customer's name, or a previous interaction, helps your customer feel valued. It also costs less time and money to sell to existing customers than is does to onboard, persuade and sell to new customers.

Loyalty programs can help build repeat business by encouraging customers to return on a regular basis. Loyalty strategies include:

  • offering customers a free product or service after purchasing a set amount (e.g. buy 9 coffees, get the 10th free)
  • creating membership programs with perks such as discounts or early access to sales
  • offering rewards for referring new customers to your business.

Consider these examples of how to build customer loyalty.

You own a cafe, and you and your staff aim to remember names and orders of regular customers.

For your customers, not only does this create a friendly environment, but they get the convenience of not having to repeat their order every day. They also know they will receive consistent-quality food and drinks every time they visit.

Your car dealership is located outside your area's central business district, and public transport is limited. When customers book their cars in for services, you offer courtesy transfers to drop them at work or the local shopping centre, or a replacement car for the day.

This ensures your customers aren't inconvenienced by not having their car, and reduces the chance they'll look elsewhere for service outlets in more convenient locations.

Generating repeat sales

Tell your customers about sales, promotions and services you provide. Help your customer feel that they benefit by receiving preferential treatment and inside information from you.

Generate repeat sales by:

  • advising customers of specials or promotions via subscription opportunities (i.e. newsletter or customer portal)
  • sending periodical updates to advertise your business (e.g. new products, sales)
  • offering product demonstrations
  • selling gift cards and arranging gift orders
  • drawing customers' attention to related products that provide them with different or additional benefits.

When customers contact you

Customers who contact your business after a sale present an opportunity to build relationships, improve customer service, and potentially purchase other products.

Customers will contact your business for many reasons—to ask about your products, check up on a delivery, question your service or make a complaint.

Improving service for after-sales queries

  • Aim to answer queries about purchased products as promptly, accurately and realistically as possible.
  • Check your customer's contact details at the same time.
  • If you can't help your customer, refer them to someone who can—you may need to make some enquiries and get back to them with a referral or suggestion.
  • Ensure you and your staff are generous with your time and personal attention to your customer's needs.
  • Show your customer that you want to help them.
  • Follow up on any queries you receive to make sure you have resolved your customer's questions.

Online after-sales service

Customers may search your website or post a comment on social media instead of making direct contact with your business.

Make sure you:

  • provide correct and up-to-date information on your website
  • respond to any comments left on your social media channels
  • offer online support for customers to help manage questions or feedback (e.g. an online help desk or enquiries email).

Read more about online communication and customer reviews and doing business online.

Turning complaints into compliments

When a customer invests time to complain to your business, take the opportunity to turn the situation into a positive experience which means the customer is more likely to return to your business.

When your customers leave negative feedback:

  • have a clear policy in place for your staff to follow
  • reward them for contacting you with problems. Offer them enhanced service or a discounted product to thank them for bringing their issue to your attention
  • encourage them to bring their concerns about your business direct to you, instead of complaining to others or on social media platforms.

Find help to manage customer complaints.