Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Already bought your product, now what?

¿And now what?
Have you ever felt as if you’re entering a long, dark hall, calling someone’s name only to listen the echo of your own voice? Have you ever felt left alone on your own after purchasing a product? Have you ever emailed a company asking for assistance about a product you bought and the response has came a few days later, even weeks? Have you ever been left without a response at all?

It really puzzles me to see how different the customer service situation is before and after the sale. Please be aware: I am not making it a general statement, but it’s sad to realize it does happen too frequently as to not bring it to the table.

Before the sale, and depending on the product you are buying, everything is happiness, smiles, positive energy. The sales rep does his best effort in assuring you it’s a great decision, showing you why it’s the best product for you and how, to your complete satisfaction, it’s going to fulfill your every need, from top to bottom. He even found for you a financing plan to keep you from making a huge down payment. What else could you ask for?... It’s simply great! Do you have any reason to complain? Obviously, at this point, you have none, because so far everything is picture perfect.

You make the decision, buy the product and already have it at home. Now what? Where did everybody run away? Is there the same energy and positivism between you and the company as it was before you bought the product? In most of the cases, the answer is no, and that’s unfortunate. Just at the very moment in which you’ve the opportunity to share with the company your satisfaction (or not) with using the product, at this special moment, there is no energy, enthusiasm, contact. There is no one there to share with.

What happened then? Why the change? Is it because the transaction is already done, the money out of your pocket, the sales rep already made his commission and reached his sales goal of the month, and that’s it? Is it that the company’s goal was simply to make you buy the product to generate profit for them and nothing else?

Companies spend around 90% of their marketing budgets talking to their clients instead of listening. And that’s the problem. Once the sale is closed, very little effort is done to stay on the client’s side. Sometimes it’s fear of having a customer complaining, other times companies are scared of having customers changing their minds and returning products… and we can keep going on mentioning reasons, some better than others, but at the end of the day what it indicates is how little importance companies place on customer service after the sale.

A few days ago I was on the phone with my local mobile carrier sorting out a technical issue I had. It caught my attention to listen to an automatic message with something like “Before your call is finished, we will give you the opportunity to evaluate our services” and even though I do find such option awesome and different from what I normally receive, it didn’t go unnoticed the fact THEY were giving ME the opportunity to evaluate their services.

Shouldn’t it be something like “Before your call is finished, WE will have the opportunity to know YOUR opinion in regards to our services”, because to be completely honest, I do believe the opportunity is not for me but for them.

If I don’t have such an opportunity and their service is bad, I switch companies and go to their competition and that’s it. It’s really simple, isn’t it? If you, as the company, think that having me share with you my experience with your product, is an opportunity for me, you got it all wrong. It isn’t. Or at least, there is something you do not understand completely: after-the-sale customer service is not a favor you do to your customers, it’s your obligation. You have to service your customers after they buy from you.

Only through real post-sale customer service you, as the company, will have the opportunity to get to better know what your customers’ experience is with your products, if they like it or not, if they will recommend it to others, if they will buy it again, etc. Bottom line, that opportunity is not for them, is for you. At the end of the day, your customer doesn’t care if, after calling your 902 (about which we’ll be talking later) for the hundredth time, he doesn’t get a response.

If he gets upset just a little bit, you might have a second chance. If he gets really upset, you lose a client and that’s it. A happy customer will recommend you to 1 or 2 more people at least. An unhappy customer, on the best case, will talk with 10 and putting a strong effort in showing how bad it was. In either case, you don’t get to know! Your customer moves on to your competition and that’s it. It’s really simple without further complication.

I do believe it’s important to realize you don’t get a happy customer BEFORE the sale is done, but afterwards. If you clearly understand this, you’ll make a better effort in your after-sales customer service area and will probably stop thinking that offering good customer service is a favor you’re making to your clients.

It’s the other way around. It’s you who has the opportunity to gain a customer for life.

What do you think? Do you make your best efforts before or after the sale? Have you noticed how important post-sale customer service can be?

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