9 Sales support strategies for SMEs
1) Make obtaining after-sales support simple for the customer
By making after-sales support simple, you can dramatically increase customer satisfaction and retention rates. Consider the after-sales support service currently provided by your company — is there any way you can streamline each support process for the customer?
For example, how easily can customers return a defective or incorrect item? Consider making it easier by providing them with a shipping label or allowing them to simply drop the item off at a partner store.
If the customer wants to make a change to their account, do they have to fill in a long and complex form by themselves? Make it simpler by offering phone support or allowing them to quickly send an email to make the required change.
Provide pre-emptive support by uploading video solutions for common problems that your customers have to YouTube. When a customer searches the Internet looking for support for that common asked question, they will find an easy-to-follow video that provides the support they need.
Remove as many steps as possible from after-sales support processes and watch customer retention rates rocket!
2) Treat customers like friends
One common complaint that many customers have about online sales and customer support is that it feels very impersonal. To avoid this common complaint, your phone and email correspondence should have a friendly and personable tone to it. For customer support, treat the customer as if they are a friend who is having trouble with your product or service.
If your after-sales support service always treats customers in a personal and friendly way, you can build a strong relationship with those customers. That improves both brand loyalty and customer retention. When the customer considers using another brand, they will be “abandoning” the friendly staff who they have formed a relationship with.
3) Train support staff to promote other products
While it is obvious that customer support should always be focused on providing support, you can sometimes use it as an opportunity to upsell or cross-sell. This should only be attempted though if the customer has had their support issue resolved and they are very happy about the customer service that has been provided.
Ask your sales and administration support staff to think about the nature of the support request to see if it aligns with any other products or services your SME offers. You may have a unique opportunity to promote a product or service that helps to solve a problem that your customer has.
4) Avoid pushing customers towards your FAQ
The frequently asked questions (FAQ) component of a website is not always a useful method for providing support and should not be relied upon by your after-sales support service staff. FAQs can be a very confusing and tiresome experience for customers who just want a simple answer. Forcing them to search through many pages for their answer can be frustrating and may cause your business to lose customers.
Additionally, a crucial part of providing high quality online sales and customer support is understanding the kinds of problems that customers regularly face. An FAQ doesn’t provide you with much detail about the support issues that are regularly occurring. It’s a good idea to encourage customers to use email or phone support to gain a better understanding of the problems that they often face. If you can’t accommodate phone support it might be worth considering a .
5) Reward customers after obtaining support
In social psychology, there is a concept called “reciprocity”. It is a social rule that says people have an urge to repay others who have provided them with a free and unexpected gift. You can harness the power of reciprocity by giving customers who have sought support a free product or service. It also helps to remove any negative feelings that the support-seeking customer may have about your business.
You could offer your customer free postage on their next order, a discount on their next order, a free gift or exclusive access to an online product that usually costs money. Because of “reciprocity” the customer will feel obliged to return the favour and may even order another product or service, just to pay you back! This technique can provide a significant boost to customer retention and brand loyalty.
6) Train your sales and administration support staff very well
There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than trying to obtain support from a poorly trained staff member. Spend time training your online sales and customer support team so they can answer customer questions confidently and quickly. The training should include the technical issues surrounding the product or service and its compatibility with other related products. If your business develops a new product or service, always make sure your support team understand those changes.
7) Encourage staff to build rapport with customers
Establishing good rapport with a customer helps to foster a friendly relationship between your business and that customer. That flows on to better customer engagement, brand loyalty and customer retention. If certain online sales and customer support staff struggle with building rapport, have them attend a training session. Also, teach staff to use the same communication style as the customer, which helps to build trust.
8) Use metrics to understand why customers use support
It’s important to track a variety of metrics relating to customer support, including:
- Why customers use support
- What products and services trigger most support calls
- How long it takes for different support issues to be resolved
- What customer retention rate do you have for customers who use support
This kind of information can help you identify any problems with the after sales support provided to customers.
9) Develop different strategies for various support scenarios
An SME will have various types of interactions with customers seeking support — from irate customers seeking support for a product, through to curious sales prospects interested in learning more about a new product. If staff have pre-determined strategies for handling the different requirements of customers, outcomes tend to be more satisfactory from the customer’s point of view. Create strategies that filter customers to different departments or staff members very quickly and efficiently.
Train your staff to not only listen to what the customer or sales prospect is saying, but their demeanour and emotional level. Then route those calls to the appropriate support desk or member of your sales team. First-level customer support should have a range of options for routing customer support and sales prospect calls.
For more information call us today on 0800 470 1576