How do you provide an after-sales service in ecommerce?

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✨ Post actualizado el 19/06/2024 por David Costarrosa

How do you provide an after-sales service in ecommerce?
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“A sale is over when you get paid”

This is what Clara Vega has to say in one of her videos belonging to the “Small handbook of secrets for entrepreneurship”.

The consultant with a degree in Business Sciences has consolidated her professional career as financial director in a business group in the housing development and agricultural exports sector.

While that statement is true, we could say that the cycle could be extended even further if we add an after-sales service.

Why?

Because by adding value to the offer, we could be extending that cycle and making even more profit.

Let’s dive into the depths of ecommerce after-sales service to find out what it is, how to offer a good service, what are the essential tools to implement it and what mistakes you should avoid making if you want to deploy it in your business.

What is after-sales service?

After-sales service, as its name suggests, is any type of service that can be offered to the customer after the purchase of a product.

This service must be included and aligned within the overall marketing strategy of the business.

According to Investopedia.com, companies such as Best Buy and Apple have a specialized after-sales customer service department that includes different services, from extra warranty or guidance on how to use a product, to repairs and upgrades.

In addition, other services such as logistics processes for getting the product to the customer, reverse logistics, package tracking or feedback and comments management also form part of this structure.

What are the main processes involved in after-sales service?

Talking about after-sales service implies involving the entire brand structure in the process.

Once the customer confirms the purchase, it is necessary to coordinate the actions of departments such as customer service, logistics and shipping so that the whole experience with the brand is satisfactory.

Below I will show you the key processes that can make a difference in your store.

Customer service

The first point of contact for the buyer will always be customer service. There, incidents involving the rest of the store’s departments will be managed and resolved.

Logistics

The process of handling and shipping the product is activated immediately after the purchase confirmation.

At Beeping we have an express shipping service with with delivery in 24/48 hours anywhere in Spain that includes personalized packaging and online tracking number along with a premium rate that will allow you to stay competitive in the market.

Reverse logistics

Another important process within an after-sales service is reverse logistics. That is, the process through which a customer can return a product they have purchased.

Working with Beeping, you will be able to utilize this complementary service in your whole structure of storage and shipment of products and carry out the control of all returns through our exclusive software.

Feedback management

The quality process is also a differentiating factor that will make your customer feel unique. You can create a post-purchase email flow that includes everything from inquiries about their experience with the brand to the sending of offers and promotional products.

Loyalty strategies

Although we will go deeper into this later, loyalty strategies such as a points collection program, preferential customer service, priority shipments or exclusive discounts are part of the whole funnel necessary for a customer to return to the brand.

How important is it in ecommerce?

Offering a quality after-sales service plays a very important role in the dynamics of an ecommerce as it is a key pillar for the longevity of the business.

Let’s review 3 fundamental aspects as to why we say this:

It guarantees repeat customers

How about a post-sales flow that aims to sell additional services, warranties, mentoring, or seasonal products?

That’s what we mean by repeat customers.

As we explained in the previous article using Vilfredo Pareto’s 80-20 theory, as an example, sometimes it is better to focus your energies on selling a new product or service to a loyal customer, rather than spending resources and money on convincing one who has not yet tried your brand.

It encourages word-of-mouth and referrals

Nothing is better for a business than a customer recommendation.

According to Philipp Schmitt, PhD in economics at the Goethe University of Frankfurt, Bernd Skiera, of the same university, and Christophe Van den Bulte, professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in his paper “I can recommend… you should buy…!”, a prospective customer who comes recommended by another is up to 4 times more likely to make a purchase and 16% more likely to become a long-term consumer.

It helps the positive image of the brand

Offering a good after-sales service will not only make the customer more loyal to the brand, but will also help develop a positive image.

Investing properly in the “happiness” of customers will directly impact the conversion of prospects and the final profit of the business.

Benefits of good after-sales service

As the Analytics Stepsarticle rightly notes, the goal of a business is to make money and keep customers happy.

One of the ways to do that is, without a doubt, by offering a good after-sales service.

Developing these two objectives in the right way will have a direct impact on the profit of your ecommerce business.

Primarily, because the customer will feel content in the event of any incident that may occur.

Then, because your brand image will grow and you will become a benchmark within your niche.

And finally, because this way you can increase your profit through different marketing efforts that involve both new customers and those who already have at least one previous purchase experience.

How to offer a quality after-sales service

As mentioned above, offering a quality after-sales service will bring a myriad of benefits to your business.

In order to help you better understand how to do this, we have decided to create what we call “the virtuous circle of after-sales service”.

What does this mean?

We are referring to 5 actions that, intertwined with each other and carried out in a responsible manner, will lead you to delivering a quality after-sales service.

Prior preparation

When we talk about prior preparation, we are referring to how prepared you are as a business to offer this service.

For that, you need to ask yourself some questions:

Do we have the capacity to deal with customer incidents?

Do we have the right personnel to carry it out?

Do we have the resources to invest in this?

Do we have clear policies on how to develop this service?

Will we be able to meet the logistical demands of scaling the business to the next level?

Will it be necessary to invest in a warehouse such as Beeping in order to delegate one of the most incident-prone after-sales processes?

Effective communication

This ties in with the previous point.

That is, you have the capacity, resources, personnel and policies in place.

How will we manage communication?

This action will be key to providing efficient after-sales service.

Having a trained customer service team, having all customer service channels open or including a contact form inside the store will also help this process to be dynamic so that customers can contact the company quickly.

Rapid response and problem resolution

This point refers to the speed and dynamism that you need to have when faced with an incident and how you will resolve it.

Each of the customer complaints must be answered according to the policies set forth by the company.

On the other hand, the logistics process of the product also comes into play at this point.

The dynamism of Amazon Prime has forced all other stores and even the shipping companies themselves to offer express delivery services.

Nowadays it is difficult for a customer to accept a product that takes more than 72 working hours to be delivered.

That is why, as we mentioned before, Beeping offers an effective and high quality solution since, thanks to our agreement with Correos Express, we can deliver within 24/48 hours.

Personalization

When we talk about personalization, we mean empathizing with the customer.

Not all customers are the same and that is where our human resources must bring into play all their skills in order to understand the needs of each person and adapt the after-sales service to meet them.

Requesting feedback

The last point of the virtuous circle refers to customer feedback.

It is important to be able to have the customer’s vision of how their entire journey has been during the company’s after-sales process.

This can be done through an email flow, a contact form or a simple phone call.

Common mistakes in after-sales service and how to avoid them

To err is human.

The challenge at this point is to fail as little as possible so that the customer gets a good impression of your after-sales service.

According to the Italian consultant Alberto Aleo in his article on “The 10 mistakes to avoid in the After-Sales service”, the biggest drawback of failing in this whole process is its consequence.

That negative aura generated with the customer and its subsequent shockwave could derail your business if it were to be repeated several times over a short period of time.

Now, what are the most common mistakes and how can we avoid them?

Lack of customer service

What Aleo himself calls the “Displacement effect”.

This is the feeling, on the part of the customer, that their complaint is not being dealt with in a responsible and efficient manner.

In other words, they do not feel heard.

To avoid this, it is important to respond to queries quickly and effectively without forgetting to be polite and respectful regardless of the customer’s tone.

Failure to offer the right solutions

At this point, it is important to have a structure that is capable of resolving each customer incident.

These incidents may involve the administrative, logistics or customer service departments.

Long delivery and response times

Amazon is the king of ecommerce, there is no doubt about it.

Did you know that if you are not part of the Amazon Prime program, you must comply with the shipping times you have established in your listing?

Did you also know that if you sell products on Amazon, you only have 24 hours to respond to a customer’s query?

If they have done it this way, it is because that will be the standard you need to have in your business.

To avoid this problem and to ensure that response times do not become lengthier than normal, it is important to have the necessary tools to maintain a dynamic environment and a team that is prepared for this.

Lack of personalization

In this digital world where personalization is key, the customer expects that their contact and response will not be a simple copy and paste.

They expect to be treated as an individual person whose problem will be handled responsibly and with their particular issues in mind.

Tools and resources to improve an ecommerce after-sales service

In this section we present a table with several tools and companies, with their respective costs and links, so that you can evaluate each of them and choose the one that best suits your business.

Type of toolExamples of companies
Chatbots: A tool based on artificial intelligence that can answer customer questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In some cases, you will need to upload an initial chat sequence to guide the customer through the platform.
ManyChat: It offers a free service and a premium service at a cost of $15 per month.
Chatfuel: It also has a limited service that is free and others that cost up to $59.99 per month.
Tars: It has a 14-day trial service and two other paid services: Standard or Suite.
Dialogflow: This is Google's chatbot service based on artificial intelligence. It has a free trial service that includes $300 credit.
Customer service software: This tool allows you to collect the customer's information and history as well as to track each of their actions.
By doing so, you can personalize their experience to the maximum in order to target their emotional triggers for the benefit of your ecommerce business.
Zendesk: This is the management software par excellence and one of the most highly valued in the market. It has a free trial service.
Freshdesk: Another of the great options on the market with customers like FIFA. Its products range from a free service to the most popular one oriented to companies with a cost of €79 per month.
ZohoDesk: The interesting thing about this option is that all 3 subscription options have free trials.
So if you choose the enterprise version, which costs €40 per month, you will be able to evaluate each of its tools.
Personalized email marketing: One of the most powerful digital marketing tools and the most used by companies worldwide.

This service includes everything from specific campaigns for specific dates to a personalized flow that adjusts to the actions of each client.
Klaviyo: The most powerful email management software. An infinite number of options place it at the forefront of ecommerce. It has a free service for up to 250 contacts.
Mailchimp: Another of the great options on the market with similar characteristics to Klaviyo. Within its free version you can incorporate up to 500 contacts.
Sendinblue: In addition to having all the email marketing tools, it also offers a comprehensive product that includes chatbots, CRM and even SMS marketing.
Social listening: With this tool you can monitor and manage what your customers are saying about your brand on social networks.
You can then address the different recurring points of conflict to avoid future complaints.
Brandwatch: Offers real-time analysis of what customers are saying about a brand. It also allows the tracking of hashtags and the creation of alerts for the customer service team.
Hootsuite: Within the power of this tool, Insights will allow you to monitor conversations online and in real time. Its cost ranges from €99 to €762 per month.
Sprout Social: This network management service has a 30-day free trial period with all its functionalities, after which it costs from $249 to $499 per month.
Logistics warehouse: A logistics warehouse is a fundamental ally to carry out the entire process of storage and stock management, product shipment and, if necessary, reverse logistics.Beeping: A private fulfillment center where you can manage all your stock from the comfort of your home thanks to its exclusive software.
Beeping will take care of receiving, storing and packing all your stock so you don't have to spend your time on it.
The logistics warehouse ships more than 1000 packages per day with a 99% delivery rate.
Thanks to this, you can save up to 38.5% on your costs in this area.
The service includes reverse logistics in case a customer decides to return the product or if it is damaged.

Tips for building customer loyalty through after-sales service

In addition to resolving conflicts and incidents, another of the main objectives of having a good after-sales service is building customer loyalty.

We have already seen in this article the importance and benefits that this generates for your business.

To that end, we will show you 4 ways to increase the longevity and loyalty of a customer with your brand.

✅ Customer loyalty program

One of the most powerful strategies is a loyalty program.

Its objective is to offer incentives or rewards to customers based on different actions in order to keep them interacting and buying in your store.

In Spain, one of the most popular loyalty programs is the one offered by the supermarket chain Carrefour, which has more than 7 million users across the country.

😎 Offer discounts and exclusive promotions

Another way to achieve customer loyalty is through exclusive offers.

In other words, offers that are only available to your most frequent customers or those who are subscribed to your newsletter.

The objective is for them to be able to perceive a special level of attention compared to other customers who have not interacted with your brand or have not even made a purchase.

📞 Exceptional customer service

This is very common in banks, which provide a preferential assistance number for those more powerful or important customers.

You can offer anything from faster service, a person from your team who is in charge of taking forward all the incidents or queries of a single customer or even a specific after-sales service.

🚚 Offer free and fast shipping options

The clearest example of this is the Amazon Prime service, which features free same-day or 24-hour maximum shipping.

As we mentioned earlier, Beeping also has a shipping service of just 24/48 hours via Correos Express.

Your customers will be delighted to receive their order as a priority and with a shorter waiting time than usual.

Success stories

In this section we are going to talk about two giants of the digital world, Zappos and Amazon.

But more specifically, we will delve into the depths of their after-sales services and why they have become such a success story over the years.

Zappos

Zappos logo

5,000 calls per month and more than 1,000 emails per week.

These are the number of inquiries received by Zappos’ customer service team, as confirmed by Wowcx in their article “Wow! Story: Zappos and its impressive service culture”.

How is it possible to transform all that stream of incidents into a culture that has catapulted the brand’s after-sales service to the forefront of the footwear industry at a digital level?

As Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh explains, their philosophy starts with their employees.

They do not follow any script or have a maximum call time to resolve an incident.

The goal is clear: every incident must be resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.

That is why they have a 365-day guarantee. This means that if you don’t like the shoe or have a problem with it, you have up to 1 calendar year to return it.

What are the keys to the success of this philosophy?

For Hsieh, one of the distinguishing factors is the time they dedicate to the customer.

While Amazon is focused on the speed of service, Zappos proposes a customer approach through guidelines that allow them to understand why they have had an incident and, based on that, to solve it.

Its contact center works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without chatbots or artificial intelligence.

They are ordinary people ready to answer every customer call at any time of the day or night.

Its pillars are clear: communication, transparency and trust.

This is how Tony Hsieh himself explains it in his book Delivering Happiness:

What set us apart from our competitors was that we put company culture above all else. We figured that by being good to our employees we would be able to offer better service than our competitors. Better service translates into lots of repeat customers and that means low marketing expenses, long-term profits and rapid growth”.

Amazon

Amazon logo

Amazon is the ultimate expression of one of mankind’s most clichéd phrases: “The customer is always right”.

Because for Amazon, the customer is always right.

Or at least in 99% of cases.

Jeff Bezos has said in an interview with Lainformación.com that he “takes every problem he hears from a customer as an opportunity to improve”.

And he has taken this to such an extent that it is Amazon’s own employees who have felt extremely pressured on many occasions to offer the best possible service.

The same is true if you are a seller on the platform, since within the standards required to keep your account active we can highlight:

  • 24 hours maximum to answer a query.
  • 1% tolerance for incidents in orders.
  • 0% tolerance on complaints about counterfeit products.

If you fail to comply with any of these points, your seller account will be seriously affected and you may lose your seller privileges completely.

In short, with these two examples we have seen we can take a real measure of the importance of an after-sales service in the durability, brand creation, trust building and profits of an ecommerce business.

Conclusion

At this point you will be clear about the importance of offering a good after-sales service for your ecommerce business.

Above all, how you will be able to grow your brand through recommendations, loyalty programs, or even better offers.

At the same time, it will be key to manage incidents through a fast and effective response carried out by your customer service team.

Remember that the most important thing is that the customer feels heard and represented. Their problem is the most important to them and they do not need an automatic response or a response that does not address their query.

Offer logistical solutions such as shipping within 48 hours with tracking and the possibility of returning the product in case they are not satisfied.

For that, Beeping will be the perfect ally.

Get tools that streamline processes and allow you to have maximum control over the entire spectrum that covers the after-sales service.

In short, if Zappos and Amazon, two undisputed leaders in the digital world, put their focus on this, why haven’t you?

Frequently Asked Questions

What tools can I use to improve my after-sales service?

As we explained when we talked about the tools and resources to improve the after-sales service, some of the tools that will help you in the management of your entire ecommerce business are:

  • Manychat (Chatbot)
  • Zendesk (Customer service software)
  • Klaviyo (Personalized email marketing)
  • Hootsuite Insights (Social Listening)

What strategies can I use to collect feedback from my customers?

You can use strategies such as satisfaction forms, quick surveys after the use of one of the customer service channels, note the comments sent by customers through emails or social networks and even a rewards program.

What should I do if a customer is not satisfied with the after-sales service I have provided?

The first thing you should do is learn from it.

If the customer is not satisfied, it is because one of the links in the chain is not completely solid.

Having clarified this, the next step is to offer an alternative solution that leaves your customer satisfied with the aim of getting them to return to your brand.

How can I guarantee that my customer service team has the necessary skills to solve customer problems?

It is impossible to guarantee 100% satisfaction, because that depends on factors that are out of your reach.

What you can do is offer training that includes all the necessary variables so that your employee feels confident and autonomous enough to make the right decision for each query.

How can I measure the effectiveness of my after-sales service?

The best way to do this is through the Social Listening tool or by conducting buyer satisfaction surveys.

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