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What’s your consumer relationship status? How to improve loyalty after the sale

Michelle Burtchell | January 11, 2017

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Takeaway: Shoppers view delivery and post-delivery as part of the brand experience.  Retailers must take a hard look at the “After-sale” or “Post-purchase” stage and the critical content needed to keep a consumer engaged and loyal to a brand.

Traditionally, the end-goal of the buyers’ journey has been the sale: The moment when the consumer clicks ‘buy.’ After that, the journey starts over and the consumer is not a retailer’s concern until he or she is on the verge of becoming a repeat shopper by entering the “Discovery” stage again. Or at least that’s the old, costly way of thinking.

Only 16% of companies make consumer retention a priority, which is odd because studies indicate retaining a consumer can save a company between 5-25 times what it costs to gain one. More importantly, times have changed and consumers expect a brand relationship throughout and after the product’s shipment, arrival, assembly, and complete welcoming into the home – the “After-sale.”

Now, the revamped end-goal of the buyers’ journey is that there never is an end, meaning the consumer remains engaged with the brand cyclically through original, additive content, and becomes a consistent, relationship-based shopper.

To do: Give consumers 24/7 access to support resources 

Start by: Your goal is to enrich or simplify your customers' lives and make them feel less alone during the “After-sale” experience. Keep content refreshed and current throughout the product details page and other places on your website, like a blog. Consumers expect quality content to be updated and accessible all the time.

For example: Include how-to-assemble or how-to-use videos, tutorials, printable set-up instructions, recipes, FAQs, care instructions, warranty details, and styling ideas. On the mobile app, take it even further with augmented or virtual reality.

Obstacle: Like all good content, it takes resource time and quality ideas to stand out.

To do: Support consumers and their questions. 

Start by: Through content and support, answer each and every question on every customer relations platform your company employs: Product page Q&A forums, social media, call centers, live chat.

For example: Take the time to post answers to other past consumer questions on the product detail page, even if the questions were on social media or through the call center.

Obstacle: Connecting the consumer relations dots throughout various departments will require training.

To do:  Follow up after a product arrives.

Start by: Reach out after shipment with a friendly notice of when the product is due. Avoid making them seek it out on a third-party website. This makes the brand appear just as excited about welcoming the product home as the consumers are. “How did we do?” surveys do not count.

For example: Going beyond the basic remarketing email is essential. Enclose a personalized “thank you for your purchase note” in the box, make the packaging Instagram-worthy, and invite the consumer to leave a product review of their own.

Obstacle: Think simple, non-obtrusive, yet impactful.

To do: Take a bad consumer experience and make it what it should have been – and then some.

Start by: Acknowledge and be accountable for any errors, and then think of a creative and caring way to remedy the situation. The first thing the consumers want to do is enjoy their new addition, not have to call in with a problem. Make the experience enjoyable and rewarding.

For example: The item arrived damaged? Ship out a replacement next day, with a small, sweet gift. The item arrived too late? Engage one-on-one with the consumer on how to make the situation better.

Obstacle: Scale. And if something does go wrong with a product or service, it’s troublesome news. Dealing with the issues head on, though, will help your company get ahead of mass issues, and at the very least, make a loyal consumer’s day.

This is the final part in a series on Supporting the Buyer’s Journey, read Part I - Bringing Discovery to Shoppers, Part II - When Shoppers Research, and Part III - Helping Shoppers Buy.

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