Improve After Sales Processes: 5 Steps to Get Started

Well-functioning after-sales services are the basic prerequisite for a successful business model. This is especially true for industrial companies. Nevertheless, many small and medium-sized companies still shy away from tackling the issue. This applies not only to the introduction of new services, but often also to the adaptation of existing structures. But success, as we all know, has two letters: DO. We have compiled five tips for you on how to get started to improve after-sales processes. 

1. Create structures

The process you start now is powerful. It could decide the future of your business. Therefore, approach it with caution. There is no point in rushing into something now and finding a quick solution that later turns out to be impractical later. Instead, take your time and first create the structures in which you want to work in the future.

What should the improved after-sales processes look like? What should they contain? Every step needs to be well planned. Think big – you can always eliminate individual items. 

And don’t think alone! Involve a manageable number of selected colleagues working in the individual departments right from the start. Their experience is invaluable. It has also been proven that new structures work better when the team has a say. 

Flowcharts are a good way to plan processes. They show how the different steps are connected and what information is needed at which point. It is also very important that you assign responsibilities. Who wears the hat at which point? Who monitors whether the individual steps are implemented? Who briefs the team and possibly also conducts training?

You will realise that the distribution of responsibilities depends very much on the content. Sometimes it is just a matter of allocating individual tasks. In other cases, it may make sense to create entire task areas that cover, for example, very specific customer groups or demands.

2. Keep track of your conversations

Recording is rewarding. The same goes for documenting and taking minutes. Yes, we know how annoying this is, but it is important. Only with complete documentation can you keep track of where your processes are. This becomes especially important when someone from your team is absent due to illness or when partners or service providers are on holiday. 

Therefore, keep all communication in a central place. And by that we don’t mean a physical folder on the shelf filled with tons of printouts, but a shared online filing system. 

Some ERP systems offer the possibility to automate such storage processes. If you don’t have your own ERP system, central filing may require more effort, but is doable on your server or on cloud solutions that are made accessible to all stakeholders with a little discipline.

Did you know that well-functioning knowledge management is also a powerful sales tool? Read more!

3. Identify your pain points

What are the most important pain points, i.e. the most urgent problems that absolutely have to be solved? You should first identify them. This is not a task that you can solve alone in the privacy of your own home. Involve your team, and not just the level with which you regularly communicate anyway, but go deeper. You will be surprised how many insights also come from the people who are supposedly only marginally involved with the issue. If necessary, grant anonymity. Experience shows that the answers are more honest and the suggestions more creative when the team feels freer. 

And very important: involve your clients as well. Depending on how familiar and close your cooperation is, a joint discussion may be a good idea. Otherwise, surveys by e-mail are a perfect way to gather customer opinions. You can find survey tools online that are very easy to use and free of charge. 

Once you have identified the two or three most important pain points, start to solve them and turn “pain points” into “gain points”.

4. Know your customer

This brings us to one of the most important basics for improving your after-sales processes. After all, the nicest structure is worth nothing if it doesn’t meet your customers’ needs. 

Regular surveys are worth their weight in gold to find out which processes are running well and which should be improved. This includes, for example, very basic aspects of after-sales services, such as what kind of accessibility your customers actually prefer. This is a very important point if you want to reorganise your processes. Because how are you going to evaluate customer satisfaction and the efficiency of your customer service if you don’t check and analyse them on a regular basis?

But even if you want to identify new services or put existing ones to the test, there is no way around a customer survey. But be careful: as effective as this tool is, use it in good doses. Also, remember to share relevant results with your customers, for example in a newsletter. This way, they will not only feel the need to disclose information, but will also be informed in return and draw inspiration from it for their part.

5. Watch your competition

Business is stimulated by competition, but only if you deal with it properly. Take a look at what your competitors are doing at regular intervals. And not just to copy them. Anyone can do that!

Smart companies use this knowledge to improve themselves and their processes. Think about how you can stand out from your competitors. How can your company offer a unique service to your customers and thus retain their loyalty? Especially if your business purpose and products are similar, excellent customer service can be a unique selling point and help you turn it into a competitive advantage. 

The investment is relatively small. Train your team to offer your customers the best possible experience. This can be characterised by particularly short response times, a particularly individual approach, proven expertise or a high level of problem-solving competence – or ideally a combination of all these aspects!

You see, laying the foundations for improved after-sales processes does not have to be rocket science. You can do most of it on your own with good planning. If your next step is the digital implementation of your processes, we will be happy to support you. We are also familiar with this and certainly have exactly the components you need within our platform.

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