After-sales management encompasses all entrepreneurial activities that follow the sale of a main product. Sales-related after-sales management describes communication and advertising strategies for customer retention. The after-sales service subsegment stands for sales and the provision of technical services such as maintenance, repairs, spare parts supply and much more.
For many companies, the after-sales division is already more lucrative than the primary business. This area will also become increasingly important in the future. The ServiceLobby is a platform that deals exclusively with topics related to this exciting and promising field. We explain how you can make your After-sales strategy lead to success. For this, among other things, we have gathered 50 tips for you below that will help to improve. But first we need to clarify what we are talking about with after-sales.
Sales after-sales management refers to all marketing measures directed at the existing customer base. This includes in particular:
The aim is to convey to the customer that he has a special status for the company. This should lead him to make follow-up purchases.
After-sales service stands for technical support for the customer. For many companies in the mechanical and plant engineering sector, it represents the basis for their economic success. The margins in service are often still higher than those from the primary business. Competition on the primary market is increasing. At the same time, technological differences between competitors are becoming more marginal.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to achieve good prices with their primary goods. Here, after-sales service offers the opportunity to stand out from the competition through better services and with the help of a more differentiated portfolio.
The portfolio of industrial companies is divided into different services in after-sales. The most common are:
Installations usually only occur in the B2B environment, because many products here must first be installed by trained personnel. In the consumer sector (B2C), this is usually not necessary. More info>>
Repairs can not only on site by a technician be carried out, but also through the support of a technical hotline. In Teleservice, customer service employees connect to machines and systems to eliminate problems without having to go out into the field.
Maintenance exist in a wide variety of designs. The most modern is the predictive maintenance. It works proactively and can even predict failures through data analyzing. Preventive maintenance, on the other hand, is usually based on time intervals. More info>>
The Spare parts supply is the most lucrative after-sales measure for most companies. However, spare parts are often also a difficult issue in the relationship with the customer. A price that is too high is the main reason why customers choose a new supplier for a follow-up purchase. More info>>
Value Added Services are value-added services that are not part of a service provider's main activities. These include training, service contracts, consulting, data-based services and much more. More info>>
The following 50 tips are certainly not all you can do to impress with your customer service. But they do provide a good starting point for sustainably strengthening and developing your after-sales area.
1. develop a well thought-out business model! Even today, many companies unfortunately still regard service as a necessary evil and a pure cost factor. Develop a suitable business model with which you can also generate profits. Use the 5 success factors for the expansion of the after-sales area as a guide. More info>>
2. monitor trends! In service, it is important to be on the Height of the time to stay. To ensure this, you can of course follow the ServiceLobby by mail via the entry on this page. We will keep you informed about developments and regularly publish exciting insights on after-sales topics.
3. take advantage of technological innovations in service! There are a variety of technologies you can use in customer service to increase productivity. Get smart to discover potential for your service business. You will find a separate topic area for this in our Insights.
4. Think service from the customer's perspective! The customer should be at the center of every effort in service. Don't just develop and plan away. Always ask yourself first what really adds value to your customers. Only by thinking, working and developing in a customer-centric way will you be able to develop your company into an after-sales champion.
5. convince top management to invest more in service! Without the support of top management, it is difficult to make progress in after-sales and it is hard to make your department the Service Excellence to lead. You need a tailwind from top management if you want to develop service into a business area on a par with others. More info>>
6. develop an outstanding service mentality! To inspire customers, you have to start with yourself and your team. To do this, it's important to approach the matter with the right verve. Service is a matter of attitude! More info>>
7. structure your service organization sensibly! You have to find the right organizational structure for your after-sales area yourself or seek advice. The problem is often that companies think too late or not at all about how best to set themselves up to provide outstanding customer service and design new services. A wide variety of design options can be used. More info>>
8. conquer new business areas in the service market of the future. Completely new areas of business are always emerging as a result of digitization in service. The markets of the future will offer completely new opportunities to earn money with machine data. More info>>
9. have confidence in yourself and your team! Service means more than simply painting by numbers and responding to customer requests. Proactively develop your own ideas to become even better. Many tasks are not as difficult as they seem at first glance. Often, players just don't know where to start.
10. have patience! On the way to the service Olympus, a few obstacles have to be cleared out of the way. Not everything works overnight. Take a step-by-step approach and bear in mind that customers and even your internal colleagues sometimes need a little longer to understand a new offering and develop interest.
11. push decentralization! In service, your technicians usually have to be on site quickly. That's why it makes more sense not to concentrate your personnel at a single branch, but to distribute them across various locations close to the customer. Especially in an international context. Nevertheless, a local team should consist of at least 10 technicians in order to be effective.
12. optimize your complaint management! Not every service request is a complaint. But ensuring that incoming complaints are handled correctly is a basic prerequisite for building a learning after-sales organization and for continuous development. In this way, you will eventually succeed in effectively increasing your revenues by selling new improved services. More info>>
13. surprise your customers! In order to not only satisfy but also delight customers, you need to go the extra mile and surprise them with unexpected services. Ask yourself what your customer expects and what additional service you can offer them at low cost/for free. Such positive surprises can be strategically planned. Implemented correctly, the customer will love you like children love Santa Claus.
14. build a profit center up! Unfortunately, many after-sales units are still managed as cost centers today. However, this ensures that they are mainly perceived as a cost factor in the company. Sit down with your controlling department and consider what is necessary to manage after-sales as a profit center. Then you can focus on the contribution margin generated and work more specifically on the profitability of your area. A nice side effect is that the entire company will then see in black and white that you are earning your money.
15. reduce unnecessary costs in your department! You need to find out where unnecessary costs are being incurred in your after-sales department. Of course, everyone will find different wastes here. However, a few problem areas can be defined where most organizations are lacking. More info>>
16. negotiate better with your service partners! In the private sector, people often don't realize that they can save real money by switching to a different electricity or telephone provider. The situation is similar in many service departments with regard to external service providers. Of course, long-term business relationships have an intrinsic value. But people often put their trust in one partner for too long and don't even realize that they could do better with a different provider. If you find out that competitors are cheaper, you can of course talk to your existing partners again to see if discounts might not be possible. More info>>
17. eliminate unnecessary goodwill costs! You should compensate customers if mistakes are made in your department, and goodwill policy is an important part of your service strategy. However, you should also critically question your own actions in this area from time to time. In addition, there are also hidden goodwill costs that managers don't always have on their radar. More info>>
18. increase your turnover! To implement this, you can start in different areas. But there are a few approaches that experience has shown work for a great many companies. More info>>
19. monetize services in a meaningful way! Think early about how you can make money from a service you offer. Sometimes individual services are in high demand and yet it is difficult to charge the customer for them. This is often the case, for example, in the case of hotline costs. More info>>
20. create lock-in effects to bind customers to your company! There are different Types of customer loyalty. Unfortunately, in the service and B2B business, customers are not particularly loyal. That's why you should design your offer to create lock-in effects that will keep them loyal to your offer in the long term. More info>>
21. push the sale of service contracts! Service contracts are very valuable if you want to be successful in after-sales. As a rule, it is only with the help of contractual agreements that you succeed in offsetting the costs of inside sales activities and making service revenues crisis-proof. To move sales forward here, you need to start with the right contract design. More info>>
22. get rid of unprofitable service contracts! Unfortunately, this point is too often forgotten. If you have contracts with customers that are no longer profitable for you, you must sell them or renegotiate them. More info>>
23. offer availability guarantees to customers! Many Service Manager are afraid to guarantee your customers a certain runtime of the machines and plants. This is a risk that you can make pay. Properly implemented and planned, this field can be very lucrative. More info>>
24. create leasing offers! Leasing models are already used in many areas. With the right strategy, you too may be able to be successful here. More info>>
25. develop a strategy for efficient quality assurance! You should always offer the customer a comparable and high-quality service with your services. In this way, you will always manage to meet and often exceed expectations. More info>>
26. develop a profitable sales strategy! In order to get off to a flying start in after-sales, you will of course have to get more involved with sales tasks in service. The right strategy is crucial here. More info>>
27. check whether your sales team is properly positioned to sell services! Services have to be sold differently than products. That's why even outstanding product salespeople sometimes find this difficult. Enter into an active exchange with your sales team. More info>>
28. involve service technicians in sales! Opinions in customer service sometimes differ as to whether it makes sense to integrate service technicians in part into the sales structure and entrust them with corresponding tasks. If well thought-out solutions are found here and the necessary tools are provided, this can definitely move a service department forward. More info>>
29. use service guarantees profitably! Service guarantees make sense in many cases and increase confidence in your services. However, you should take necessary measures to limit the risk for yourself. More info>>
30. exploit your customer touchpoints to inform customers about your service! It makes sense to draw customers' attention to your service offering early on, at the point of purchase. Think about what touchpoints you have with customers and how they can be used. More info>>
31. design new innovative services! Service design is a multi-faceted topic. Digitization in particular offers a wide range of options for designing new services. There are a number of established processes that you can draw on for this purpose. More info>>
32. develop suitable consulting offers for customers! You know best how to use your machines effectively. Your buyers may want to benefit from this. Consultancy can be a very useful value added service for customers. The consulting relationship can be structured in very different ways. More info>>
33. introduce product-accompanying services before higher-value services! It is advantageous to first expand your maintenance and repair business before developing completely new types of services. Once you have achieved this, you will have the necessary security to venture into more creative tasks.
34. introduce new services to loyal customers first! Your loyal regular customers will have a higher tolerance for mistakes if you ever want to try something new. This trust is an advantage when it comes to implementing a project in the long term.
35. be aware of cultural differences in service! Different nations often have completely different views of the after-sales area. In some countries, for example, customers are very much in favor of service contracts. In other countries, however, you have to do a lot of convincing to get them to sign contracts. Take a look at the "Internationalization" section in our Insights.
36. know the expectations of your customers! Of course, customers' expectations are not only very different in an international comparison, but also very diverse overall. Nevertheless, there are a few basic customer needs that you should serve with your service. More info>>
37. improve customer communication! Communication is an important building block in your relationship with the customer. It, too, can be strategically planned and implemented. More info>>
38. build customer trust in digital services! Digital services are hard to grasp. It is not only the issue of data protection that is a factor of uncertainty for many companies with regard to innovative services. They should take appropriate measures here to reduce reservations. More info>>
39. act proactively in customer service! Don't wait until the customer comes to you with complaints. Instead, you can proactively seek feedback. More info>>
40. compensate customers appropriately in the event of damage. If you ever mess up, you should compensate customers in an appropriate way. Think about suitable strategies as part of your complaints management. More info>>
41. give customers back the feeling of control! A breakdown or downtime on the machine is always an annoyance for the customer. You can better involve the customer in finding a solution by giving him back the feeling of control over possible solutions. This often helps to avoid unnecessary frustration. More info>>
42. create opportunities for employees to pass on customer feedback to management! To ensure that employees share feedback from your customers, you need to create the right environment. More info>>
43. ensure excellent service orientation in your company! The first machine is sold by sales, the following ones are sold by service. There is a lot of truth in this saying. A high level of service orientation is therefore absolutely profitable for you and your customers. More info>>
44. better justify additional costs to customers! Additional costs should be set in a way that customers will accept them. More info>>
45. increase employee satisfaction to retain service professionals! Good staff is precious and happy employees will stay loyal to you longer. Therefore, you should take sufficient measures to ensure that employees enjoy working for your company. More info>>
46. fill the different roles in after-sales! Each after-sales activity is divided into specific roles. You don't have to fill all of these roles with a single employee. However, all areas should be covered in order to work effectively. More info>>
47. compensate employees financially for dealing with difficult customers! Dissatisfied customers are a huge stressor for your service technicians. There are many different ways to show your employees appreciation for the difficult work they do. However, research shows that in this particular case, financial compensation is what keeps employee satisfaction high in the long run. More info>>
48. promote the development of employees through appropriate skills management! You should always keep track of your staff's skills and actively promote employees. This way, you know exactly which technician is the right one for an incoming job and can strategically develop your staff. More info>>
49. think about sensible outsourcing strategies! In many cases, it is advantageous to outsource simple activities and award contracts to service providers. This allows you to concentrate on the lucrative tasks that require your comprehensive knowledge of the products. More info>>
50. automate service processes! Automation can also save you unnecessary work and allow you to focus your efforts on the issues that really matter. More info>>