Much of CX is focused on getting customers into and through the sales funnel, but by following through with post-purchase customer experience in a way that follow-ups aren’t seen as spam, a company can help ensure a one-time customer does repeat business.
Company execs offered the following as what they have found as the best practices for continuing CX after the sale.
Offer Post-Sale Updates
“We tinkered with our post-sales CX because it seems that customer preferences and practices have changed as a result of COVID. Because so many purchasing activities have shifted online as a result of the pandemic, it seems that consumers are more sensitive to post-sales actions than ever before,” said John Ross, president and CEO of Test Prep Insight, an online education company. Test Prep found two strategies particularly helpful.
Use SMS status updates where possible. Customers hate being left in the dark, especially when it comes to a service or product they are expecting, Ross said. The last thing they want is to check an order status and see a vague message like "processing." Provide detailed and transparent status updates, especially by text message if possible. Customers are now accustomed to receiving commercial texts for dentist appointments, golf tee times, FedEx deliveries, etc. As long as the customer agrees, leverage SMS updates where possible, as it provides an excellent post-sales CX.
Limit the feedback request emails. “Nothing turns a customer off post-sale more than being peppered with numerous email requests to fill out a survey or submit feedback,” Ross said. This feedback data is key to your continuous improvement and making iterative changes to your front-end CX, but you don't want to spoil a perfectly happy customer with a million requests. The best practice is to limit feedback or review request emails to a maximum of two. Send one feedback request email two days after their product or service is delivered (while they are still happy and thinking about your company), and follow up with a second request one week after that if you didn't get the feedback or review you were after. Beyond that, it's a lost cause and any more follow-up emails risk alienating an otherwise happy customer.
These strategies have worked for Test Prep, which saw 21 percent fewer customers unsubscribing (compared to pre-COVID levels) from June to September, Ross said.
Respond to Customer Reviews
“We primarily utilize email to ensure that our customer has had a great experience,” said Graham Cooke, founder and president of Cafe Last. “We send our first email three days after the sale is complete, basically asking how we have done utilizing a review system, 1-5 stars. If the customer gives us a 4-or 5-star review, we graciously thank them and ask them to share a review on Yelp or Trustpilot. If we get a 1-3-star review, it automatically creates a support ticket so our customer support team can reach out and do our best to make the experience right. Additionally, the happy-customers segment gets added back to our marketing list so we can continue selling to them in the future.”
The main goal is to get in front of any issues your customers may have and ensure that you correct it before they leave a negative review, or shop with your customers in the future, Cooke explained. Customers just want to feel like they are being taken care of. Reaching out to them immediately if they leave a bad review can change their mind.
“We've had customers leave a bad review due to a misunderstanding, and then once we make it right, refer their friends and send new sales to us,” Cooke said.
Create a Feeling of Exclusivity
Offer customers the opportunity to be members of an exclusive group, recommended Chris Laan, founder of Designer Sheds.
“Create an invite-only Facebook group that's only for verified buyers or subscribers to your service,” Laan said. “When you make your product or service feel more like an experience, shoppers are more inclined to do business with you again in the future. Moreover, people simply love sharing, especially with others who understand their field or work in a similar industry. And finally, an exclusive group can be its own form of tech support, as well as an excellent starting point for research when developing new products, services or features.”
If the company doesn’t have the resources to manage a Facebook group, then at least offer an exclusive mailing list to join, or buyer-only YouTube videos on a related topic or an in-depth ebook, Laan recommended.
“The key here is that you need to provide real value,” Laan explained. “Customers already expect to receive marketing emails and sales offers from your company from date-of-purchase until the end of time — or at least until they decide to unsubscribe. By actually taking the time to build something that's only for the people who've actually made a purchase at your company, you're bringing customer obsession to life in a way most shoppers have never even experienced.”