After the holidays, there is a peak in demand for after-sales services. Many customers will want to exchange gifts, request repairs, or make a complaint. For brands and retailers, it is important to anticipate this wave of requests to start the new year on the right foot. The after-sales service is not only here to listen to customers, it’s also a key component of the customer relationship strategy, and it helps build loyalty.
89% of customers who were unsatisfied with a brand’s customer service never made another purchase. And 55% are willing to pay more for a better service. These figures prove the importance of an impeccable after-sales service, especially after the holiday season, when they will be overburdened.
What should brands watch out for to maximize their sales and customer satisfaction after the holiday season? How can they make sure they start the new year with a positive and lasting impact on their customers?
Be clear and quick to respond
New technologies, driven by the digital age, have led to a new “I want what I want, when I want it” mentality. Consumers have access to everything in just a few clicks. They are impatient, and their expectations regarding the after-sales service show just that. They want an answer within 24h for emails, within the hour on social media, and no more than 4 minutes of waiting time on the phone. To put it in figures: 60% of customers feel that long holds and waiting times are the most frustrating parts of a service experience (Zendesk), and 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have a customer service question (HubSpot Research).
In addition to a quick response, it is important to provide a clear and above all accurate solution. There is no point in going fast if the consumer is not satisfied with the answer given by the brand. You must find the right balance between speed and quality.
The after-sales service has to deal with multiple requests after the holiday season. Some may be legitimate, while others, in fact, may not conflict with the company’s commercial policy. However, it is important to remain flexible, both for the brand image and to strengthen the relationship with the customers involved. For example, if a customer has just missed the return deadline, accepting the package anyway shows that you are understanding and willing to make an effort.
It’s also a good idea to extend your after-sales’ availability after Christmas. Very often customers are working during the brand’s opening hours. And given the increasing number of requests during this period, offering longer opening time will allow you to better manage the waiting time and better assess each request. As a matter of fact, 88% of consumers demand more flexible opening hours.
Stand out and reward
Sometimes the brand makes a mistake, and the customer is affected by it. In these cases, there is a legal compensation depending on the mistake made, but it is worthwhile to go further to satisfy the customers beyond the inconvenience. The goal is to make them want to return to the brand’s points of sale to make their purchases, and for the incident to no longer be an obstacle.
Among the complementary compensations, we can find promotional codes, discount coupons… but the most efficient tool remains the single-brand digital gift card. The brand can choose how much to give and the validity date.
About e-gift cards
E-gift cards are easily edited, require little effort for the brand and are available instantly for the customer. Just like coupons and promotional codes, it can be a motivating factor for consumers to come back to the store or website for another experience. However, they differ in their format. Gift cards are generally very well perceived by consumers. They are seen as a real gift, more so than promotional codes or coupons which are well known commercial techniques.
But gift cards have another significant strength: they alter the consumer’s behavior. The latter will be more inclined to spend more than the amount on the card and will more easily give in to their heart’s desire.
With new technologies, various digital tools for after-sales service have appeared such as chatbots, web call back… These tools come in handy during peaks in traffic. They allow you to answer a large part of the requests in an automated way and in full autonomy. There are two main benefits for the after-sales service: it can relieve other communication channels for better reactivity, and it allows customers to find tools available 24/7. In fact, all the interactive FAQs, chatbots… are expected to handle 80% of requests in a few years. This first filter will give the after-sales team time to better focus on specific cases and provide a more comprehensive answer.
Nonetheless, there are several things a brand must look out for when multiplying its contact channels. First, the quality of response must be equal for all customer service tools. Whether it’s by phone, by email, or on the chatbot, consumers must have a sufficiently clear, relevant, and personalized answer. Second, customers should be able to easily switch between tools without experiencing any problems. It is not uncommon for people to use at least 3 different channels to contact the after-sales service, in fact 55% of people do so. Therefore, being omnichannel is essential for customer satisfaction and for an efficient after-sales service.
Provide the means necessary to succeed
With the increasing number of requests following the holidays, it is not unusual for brands to reinforce their customer service teams. Newcomers need to be trained quickly, and it is essential to provide them with customer knowledge tools. This is the only way to ensure that the team is operational, efficient and, most importantly, that they all provide the same quality of service. Despite the expansion of the team, you must be able to ensure overall consistency by giving them the necessary means.
The same is true if the company is planning to launch new customer service tools. It is relevant to create an adequate ecosystem in which information and customer data can circulate to provide a personalized and satisfactory response to customers.
Handling customer requests in a timely and personalized manner is a first step. However, your brand is missing out if it stops there. Customer complaints to the service department usually provide valuable feedback that should be analyzed afterwards. Within the requests, some complaints may repeat themselves and refer to the same “pain” point.
These points should be taken into account and passed on to other departments to improve the customer experience and the brand image. For example, through feedback from the after-sales service, we can see if a delivery partner is not performing well, or if a product is defective.
Information drawn from customer feedback can be used to improve the process, to feed the FAQ (if there is one), and even to offer new product lines.
Creating an ecosystem in which the after-sales service can easily report important information is an added value for the brand.
Ultimately, when Christmas is over, an efficient after-sales service must be able to respond quickly and qualitatively to dissatisfied customers. But at the same time, it must be able to create a close relationship with its customers to build their loyalty.
Suggestions for further reading
Why have a B2B gift card program for the holidays ?