Online sellers are always on the lookout for fresh tactics and tools to help them outperform their competitors, and it’s easy to understand why: the ecommerce world may be vast and rich with resources, but it’s packed with juggernauts like Amazon (not to mention rife with generic products and similar stores), and anyone who wants a piece of the pie must fight for it.
That’s why businesses constantly look for new niches to fill, new social media channels to use for marketing, new products to source, and new automation tools to free up more time for networking. They aim to optimize every last part of the sales process, smoothly turning prospects into qualified leads and subsequently conversions — anything to get an edge.
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What they often fail to miss, though, is the impact of the post-sale experience. Assuming that completing an order is the preferred end of the customer interaction is sheer folly. Post-sale support is extremely important and commonly overlooked, making it the perfect opportunity. So how do you take advantage to drive more sales? Let’s consider this in more depth.
Why customers come back for more
For the vast majority of product types, the average online shopper has a massive amount of choice (too much, sometimes) — almost every product is available from multiple stores, and there’s typically little to separate the offers. Any two sites might quote the same price, charge the same amount for shipping, and offer the same guarantees. Consequently, something minor like being the first site they someone sees (or having fractionally lower prices than rivals) might win you a sale.
But what if fortune favors one of your rivals? And even if it doesn’t, what happens if another site comes up first the next time that person searches? If there’s nothing memorable about your site, they won’t bother coming back. It’ll simply be a utility like any other, useful on occasion but not seen as important. We return to sites that feel special to us somehow.
So how do you make your site feel special if you can’t do anything exceptional with your prices or your shipping? You do something exceptional with your service. Where most sellers go quiet after their final shipping confirmations, you can do something more. You can stand out.
The value of staying connected
Brand connection is increasingly important in ecommerce. Instead of sticking with the companies with the best prices, consumers will keep buying from the companies that are convenient, personable, communicative, and generally likable.
The convenience part of this comes down to following the modern ecommerce playbook: using a social selling tool like Viralpep to prime leads through social networks, then taking full advantage of a flexible sales platform (such as Shopify’s multi-channel Plus service) to convert those leads. Whenever people are interested in buying, you need to be there.
As for the likability, well, that’s where the post-sale experience comes in. Brand interactions during the classic sales funnel always feel awkward, because the prospective customer knows that the seller is clearly angling towards an imminent sale. Once the sale is over, they’ll understand that continued contact is still loosely promotional, but they’ll also take it as a sign that the seller actually cares about providing a good service.
When you stay available to people around the clock (regardless of whether they’re currently interested in buying), keep them updated, and even seek their feedback to help you grow your company, they’ll remember you much more favorably. And when they need to place more orders, they’ll be more likely to consider your store worthy of their attention.
Building through referrals
Let’s suppose for a second that you master your post-sale experience, using all suitable channels to keep in touch with previous customers and check that they’re fully happy with their purchasing experiences. How does this benefit you? Well, firstly, they’ll spend larger amounts with you more frequently, be less likely to go elsewhere, and be more receptive to new offers.
But that’s not all. We’re leaving out one of the most significant consequences of exceptional post-sale support: the positive influence on the rate of customer referrals. The happier existing customers are, the more likely they’ll be to recommend your business to their friends and family members — and any referred customers are going to start out with positive impressions of you, making them more likely to spend heavily.
This is perhaps the biggest long-term benefit of masterful post-sale support. It shows that your company cares about people beyond taking their money (to some extent, at least), and that reverberates throughout the your customer base and beyond.
In summary, ecommerce stores are so similar today that it’s customer service that makes brands stand out — and the best customer service extends past the point of conversion to see how customers are getting on. Make it a core part of your store, and you’ll soon start to notice the positive effects generating fresh referrals.