Post-sale interactions are an important aspect of the customer experience with your brand. How would you rate your dealings with customers once they’ve received your products or services? Ask yourself whether you would appreciate similar handling following the delivery of your B2B acquisitions. Unless you are in the minority of companies, your post-sale performance is likely not making brand evangelists out of your customers.
In fact, recent research from SiriusDecisions revealed that less than half of B2B customers are satisfied with the post-sale interactions they have with most brands. And here’s the rub: SiriusDecisions also found that 80 percent of B2B buying decisions are based on a buyer’s direct or indirect customer experience – not the offering or its price.
In other words, if you want repeat business, your post-sale dealings with customers are as important as anything else you do. So, how do you ramp up post-sale goals and delivery?
To keep current customers, attract new ones and grow revenue, B2B marketers should make the following small but impactful changes:
- Develop a client-oriented mindset: Build repeatable and systematic processes for gathering, analyzing and taking action on customer insights. For example, use customer input when designing surveys to measure key transactional touchpoints and gain a strategic perspective. But don’t forget to gather wisdom from internal leaders and the frontline as well.
- Build a more client-centric model: Orient account management functions around client insights throughout the relationship continuum, adjusting the sales approach accordingly. This will require you to update your sales team regularly and share quantified customer experience performance for use as selling points.
- Exploit consumer-centric interaction channels: As you strive to learn customer preferences and behaviors, take advantage of consumer-centric interaction channels and rich media. Electronic channels such as chat and SMS are becoming increasingly relevant in the B2B context as the line blurs between the workplace and home, and widespread broadband adoption is driving web co-browsing.
- Harvest social knowledge: Social network ubiquity in our society has led to an explosion in online forums about consumer products and services. This can be good and bad (see below) for businesses. Take advantage of these networks to provide customer support and boost brand loyalty, and leverage social platforms to improve the customer service on your own website and in your contact center. It’s important to separate the wheat from the chaff, however. Social network contributors vary in their influence and prolificacy. Measure contributor efficacy by number of posts, acceptance rates, and number of connections, for starters, to ensure you glean only valuable data from social sites.
- Handle severe detractors effectively: This will require specialists who know how to mitigate brand detractors with aplomb, using predictive analytics to guide issue escalation and response.
- Leverage in-process guidance: To maximize the post-sale interaction, use in-process interaction guidance technology to maximize the value of the initial sales transaction. Use it to upsell and cross-sell related products and services at the conclusion of successful post-sales customer service interactions for incremental expansion of consumers’ wallet share. These systems have demonstrated improvements in revenue generation by reducing the instances of unwarranted product returns and field visits.
- Take advantage of PoS captive marketing: Add point-of-sale marketing to generate demand among existing customers who are currently communicating with your business about a product or service they have purchased. These captive customers are more likely than prospective customers to be receptive to interactions with your business.
The SiriusDecisions study found that 42 percent of customers are unsure about renewal with current vendors, and 45 percent said they didn’t get the value they were promised during the buyer’s journey. To avoid client defection, be proactive about your post-sale customer relationships. Consider follow-through that employs the suggestions below:
- Send a thank-you email on the day of delivery.
- After a month, reach out to assess the overall experience. Include queries about the onboarding process, the proficiency of any training that was provided, and whether the customer is unhappy about anything.
- A few months out, request product feedback: What improvements in our product/service would you like to see? What feature(s) are you using the most? What new features would you like to see? Have your expectations been met? Ask also whether the customer would be willing to act as a reference.
- At six months, secure referrals and invite satisfied customers to provide testimonials for your website.
- Show appreciation for their business and warm customers up for renewal. A token gift wouldn’t hurt.
- Elicit critical feedback in preparation for renewal. Send a customer survey to prompt insights.
- Keep the relationship warm by repeating steps 1 through 6.
Edited by Alicia Young