What department does your business need now more than ever?
My wife and I had the strange sensation at the weekend, walking into a car showroom, as one of our cars is no longer fit for purpose.
Some years ago, I had three children I now have three hulking adults. Not only does this change how we live, but it also means they take up more space!
I've only ever bought cars, used cars, and paid for them outright. Alan a mature and experienced gentleman told me I didn't really need to do that and perhaps I was better off keeping the money in my bank rather than giving it all to the dealership. When he told me the price tag, I felt he may be right! I then rather naively perhaps asked the question, “so how do you get your money back?” He said, “well we need to keep in touch with you so that in three years’ time you either go again with something more modern or you buy the car that you've enjoyed, either way we're left with a nice car that we can sell to somebody as a used car, and we keep you as a customer.”
This smacks of needing an incredible after sales department. Do you remember years ago these departments existed? They were often in sketches in comedy shows or in scenes in various films. The after sales department were tasked with handling a complaint or an enquiry the sales team didn’t want. The sale had been made and they weren't always the most skilled people in these departments. Well, I think they now need to be perhaps your most skilled people. After all we buy a product that is finished, it comes in a box or in a van and can be delivered to us with all of the technology thinking and creativity put in before it reaches us.
We are not going to become loyal unless you keep in contact with us, and this hasn't really been tremendously sophisticated work from many firms for years. It still seems to be that email should be enough! If companies really are serious about keeping their consumer customers and I recognise in another article we would be required to talk about business-to-business ones, then they need to be a lot more personalised and proactive in the continued communication before the product becomes obsolete or can be upgraded and so on.
Take a look at your after sales department. Are they skilful outbound callers, proactive nudges, personalised message makers? Are they looking at your data? When your policy is due to expire? When your renewal needs much more work? To build the relationship into something much closer to loyalty.
If we look at the classic five stages of marketing:
…. many brands believe they have got loyalty much quicker than they really have. Human beings are wired to be disloyal, we're not as bad as puffin's. I once saw a documentary that shocked me, turn your back and they’re disloyal! However, we are magpies at the very least. Drawn to shiny new things.
Therefore, your after sales department is really your continued sales department. There is no after or before, it is just a feeling of continuing the relationship so that you keep buying the products or services from that brand, that distributor, that supplier, that retailer, that seller, whoever it is that is selling it to you. They may even be an agent with an array of options. This needs a modern department. The after sales department needs a huge rethink and a reboot to make it fit for our current consumer behaviour.
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