With the durable goods markets in flux—new orders rose 0.7 percent in March 2017, after declining as low as 4.7 percent just a few months prior—manufacturers are seeking alternate sources of revenue and profit. After-sales service, or the service delivered after the initial sale of a new product, is helping manufacturers do just this. This often-suboptimized area of business is not only becoming an increasingly important revenue driver, but also a source of competitive differentiation and customer loyalty.
Although after-sales service is often viewed from a “bottom line” perspective, a well-maintained after-sales service infrastructure is as important to customer satisfaction as it is to as revenue and margins. After-sales service is a source of competitive differentiation, and businesses should view it that way. In today’s on-demand economy, earning customer loyalty is hard, and maintaining it is a daily challenge. If customers have a bad service experience, they’re likely to take their business elsewhere. And once they’re gone, it can be difficult to win them back. In fact, according to BI Intelligence, it takes “12 positive customer experiences to negate the poor impression left behind from one unresolved, bad experience.”
So, the easiest and most cost-effective way to keep customers happy and coming back is to deliver a positive service experience every time they interact with your brand. With this in mind, here are three ways after-sales service technology can help improve customer success, as well as a company’s bottom line.
Managing large and complex global operations can be both daunting and time-consuming, especially within the service supply chain. And while the manual processes and outdated tools like Excel spreadsheets are familiar, they’re actually inefficient and can lead to service-part availability issues and poor customer experiences. Additionally, although many organizations have begun to invest in more sophisticated data infrastructure, data may not be managed in a central hub—leading to inaccurate information, slower reaction times, sales inefficiencies, and by extension, poor customer service and diminished loyalty.
On the flip side, if data are easy to access and managed well, brands can ensure that part prices are consistent, and ensure each stocking location has the appropriate service parts inventory, among other things, to make sure customers leave happy with the products they need.
With that in mind, companies need to adopt solutions that offer a centralized view of the available data. Ideally data should be customizable and adjustable in real time to highlight the most pertinent points on both a local and global level. This will enable the best intelligence so that businesses can stay on top of internal processes as well as broader trends in order to meet customer needs.
Service parts inventory control
More than 50 percent of service calls fail due to a missing part, leading to disgruntled customers, as well as lost profits and revenue for manufacturers. Exceptional—and profitable—service means selling the correct parts at the right place and time. And by adopting advanced service parts inventory management solutions, companies can keep tabs on what products are needed in which locations, and ultimately keep customers happy as a result.
Specifically, such solutions play a pivotal role in:
• Controlling and gaining visibility over dealer part inventory and sales
• Improving forecasting for an entire network by taking into account specific feedback from each dealer
• Easily disseminating information on new products for better customer education and service
• Decreasing the write-offs and carrying costs associated with stock that goes unsold and sits on the shelf
Service parts price management
Pricing is a foremost factor for shoppers when they’re deciding whether to make a purchase. An estimated 56 percent of millennials shop at their favorite retailer because of price. Likewise, if manufacturers are not able to provide service parts at prices customers can find elsewhere, they not only risk losing customers, but also potential profit. This is where modern service parts pricing solutions give manufacturers the competitive edge.
Today’s technology allows manufacturers or distributors to charge the optimal price based on different data-driven insights. For example, advanced pricing solutions can instantly react to a variety of market conditions, including weather and demand for a given part to automatically optimize a price and deliver the best value for the customer and the business. Additionally, these solutions can help businesses easily build a transparent value-based model of pricing—where products are priced according to factors such as shape and size—so that customers can clearly see how each product is priced in comparison to others. This will help minimize confusion and pricing complaints, thereby boosting customer satisfaction.
After-sales service is a key profit lever and competitive differentiator, and brands that embrace it—and always keep a customer focus in mind—will continue to drive revenue even during periods of market change.