What Is After-Sales Service? +Benefits, Examples, Metrics

What Is After-Sales Service? +Benefits, Examples, Metrics

In today’s fiercely competitive business landscape, delivering top-notch products or services is just the beginning of building lasting customer relationships. To truly stand out and thrive, businesses must go above and beyond by providing exceptional after-sales service. 

From the moment a purchase is made, the journey of a customer with a brand is far from over. This crucial phase, often overlooked, can make or break the entire customer experience.

After-sales service focuses on helping customers get the most out of your product or service after the sale. This includes customer onboarding, continuous training, help desk support and troubleshooting, fixing and replacing defective products, and maintaining self-help support channels.

This article will help you understand after-sales service, learn how to design an after-sales program, and understand common frustrations your customers may face if your after-sales support infrastructure isn’t designed to adapt to your customer’s changing needs.

What Is After-Sales Service?

After-sales service refers to the support and services offered to customers after the point of purchase. This may include technical support, product installation, troubleshooting, maintenance, upgrades, returns/exchanges, warranties, onboarding, community access, and self-help support.

Effective after-sales service fosters customer loyalty, promotes repeat business, and enhances overall customer satisfaction while providing valuable feedback that can be used to improve products and services. 

Examples of After-Sales Service

Examples of After-Sales Service

Here are a few common examples of after-sales service offerings:

  • Providing a warranty for a product: A warranty guarantees that you’ll fix or replace a product free of charge if it develops a defect within a specific period of time due to no fault of the customer.
  • Repairs or replacements for defective products: For hardware businesses, offering to repair or swap purchases can easily be the final push a customer needs to try out your product, knowing they have some ‘insurance’ should it get broken.
  • Providing customer training or tutorials: Customer education and training can be arranged 1:1 or through self-help channels such as pre-recorded demos, product docs, interactive walkthroughs, courses, or webinars that explain how your product or service works and how to troubleshoot common issues.
  • Offering upgrades or additional features: This typically involves offering existing customers a test run, discounted upgrade, or add-ons to your basic product/service for a reduced price or on a deferred payment plan.
  • Offering a loyalty program: Loyalty programs offer customers exclusive benefits for patronizing your business more, signing up for brand subscriptions, or buying certain products. The benefits can include discounts, free shipping, exclusive events, branded merchandise, etc.
  • Offering flexible return or exchange policies: If a customer tries out your product and decides it’s not for them, can they return it? How long does that return window last, and are there any benefits they have to forfeit or penalties they face?

5 Key Elements of an Effective After-Sales Service Strategy

Your after-sales service experience should focus on helping customers get the most out of your product/service, resolve any unforeseen issues, and achieve their goals for patronizing your business. Here are some objectives to keep in mind that’ll help keep you on track.

1. Clear and effective communication

Whether you’re creating a help center, FAQ page, knowledge base, or product docs, the secret of excellent after-sales communication is clarity:

  • Break down everything into simple English (or whatever language your target audience speaks) — be plain and concise with all your communication
  • Offer straightforward solutions users can navigate on their own
  • Use visual cues such as GIFs, images, step-by-step walkthroughs, or explainer videos to illustrate what you mean

The point still holds whether you’re creating after-sales content proactively or training your agents to handle live tickets—figuring out how your product works is enough work; don’t make people suffer trying to use yours.

Be sure to also follow up with your customers after a support-related issue or post-onboarding.

This can be via a scheduled follow-up email, a phone call, a handwritten note, SMS, push notifications, etc. Ideally, you should opt for the channel through which your customer bought your product to increase your chances of hearing back from them.

2. Quick and efficient response time

As we covered before, it’s perfect if you can afford an international support team to ensure customers always get a response 24/7. If not, you need to clearly communicate how long until customers can expect to hear back and any alternative self-help channels they can try until then.

3. Knowledgeable and helpful representatives

Your after-sales support team needs to know enough about your product to understand your customers’ complaints, no matter how confusing they sound. This is why you need a product knowledge training program to ensure your sales and support teams can provide hands-on support to educate customers and help them troubleshoot issues, even if the standard help manual does not cover them.

4. Personalized solutions

After-sales personalization covers a wide range of efforts, as long as it’s targeted on a personal basis:

  • Sending buyers product recommendations to augment their purchase
  • Hands-on concierge onboarding
  • 1:1 follow-ups asking for customers’ feedback regarding recent purchases/upgrades 
  • Handwritten thank you notes, new releases, discount offers, exclusive content and experiences, etc.

To make it work, you might need to segment your customers by variables such as their purchase history and demographics, whether you’re trying to enroll them for email campaigns or retarget them with AdRoll or Facebook custom audiences.

5. Available across multiple channels

You’d want to cover as wide a footprint as possible, with an omnichannel customer support strategy covering all social media channels, phone, SMS, and email support, without overwhelming your team. Thankfully, platforms like Freshworks and Zendesk can help you aggregate all your messaging channels into one dashboard, including Slack, Messenger, etc.

8 Tips for Offering Impressive Post-Sales Service

After-sales service can be a powerful tool for building customer relationships, increasing loyalty, and differentiating your business from competitors. However, implementing an effective after-sales service strategy can be challenging.

In this section, we’ll provide six tips for implementing an effective after-sales service strategy that can help you provide exceptional customer service and create a sustainable competitive advantage for your business.

1. Make customer service a priority

According to a 2019 thought leadership paper by Khoros and Forrester, 83% of customers surveyed felt more loyal to brands that responded to their queries and resolved their issues, while 43% were more likely to patronize them again.

To cultivate an effective after-sales service strategy, your business’s approach towards support needs to change—you need to switch from treating after-sales assistance as a loss leader without a direct link to increased revenues, and start seeing it as a customer acquisition and retention channel.

Focus on fixing customer issues preemptively, quickly, and with empathy. There’s no one lever you can pull to make customer interactions exceptional. Mostly, it boils down to how your agents have been trained to handle questions, resolve issues, and de-escalate angry customers. These include:

  • Asking customers for feedback after every interaction
  • If you can’t provide a fix right away, let the customer know when they can hear back, if possible
  • After resolving a customer’s issue, follow up to ensure they are satisfied with the outcome.
  • Make up for any disappointments or problems with discounts or freebies
  • Take the time to listen to your customers and understand their concerns.
  • Go through customer conversations (calls, emails, etc.) and review them step by step to understand what made it a good experience or not

2. Set clear expectations

Most after-sales support confusions arise when customers have higher expectations than a business has guaranteed to offer, so it’s ideal that you drive the point to reduce disappointment, even before the sale.

  • How long does it usually take you to reply to customer queries, address open tickets, process refunds, or ship replacement products?
  • Is there an alternative channel users can take to get issues solved? Communicate it clearly from the start.
  • What are your provisions for replacing and repairing faulty products? Make it plain before the sale closes.
  • Clarify special offers, discounts, and bonuses that may have been discontinued so customers don’t feel tricked or manipulated.

3. Train your employees

No matter the tech you deploy (chatbots, guided walkthroughs, IVRs, etc.), knowledgeable employees that can get into a product/service hands-on will inspire confidence before the sale and defuse frustrated buyers if they contact support.

  • Provide customer service training to your help desk and support teams to parse queries, complaints, and product references (from hands-on use) to resolve issues faster.
  • Review previous customer interactions (call recordings, live chat sessions, email threads) to identify good support instances and pitfalls other employees should avoid.
  • Create an in-depth product library to educate employees about your product and services.

Even the slightest effort at educating your employees will make them come across as knowledgeable (about your product), empathetic (about customers), and willing to help.

4. Provide educational resources and self-service options

69% of customers first try to resolve issues on their own before contacting support. So, why not let them? 

You can use AI-powered chatbots, product documentation, interactive walkthroughs, and pre-recorded demos to guide customers through fixing known issues and reduce the time your support agents spend on repetitive tasks.

You should also build educational resources for your customers to become product experts and extract additional value from your product or service.

The type of educational resources you share with your users depends on what you’re trying to achieve, which might be to onboard and teach them how to navigate your product or to inspire them with examples from peers in their industry. These include:

  • Technical documentation, such as product docs, whitepapers, API docs, SDK docs, etc
  • Editorial resources, including blog posts, case studies, testimonials, infographics, eBooks, etc.
  • Descriptive resources, like pre-recorded demos, product manuals, user guides, FAQs, etc.
  • Online courses and academies, on-demand e-learning programs, certifications, live webinars, and podcasts

5. Personalize your after-sales experience

You can use machine learning to recommend additional products and enhancements based on your customer’s previous purchases and interests.

After a customer signs up for your product, completes a purchase, or upgrades to a paid tier (i.e., if you’re a subscription business), there are several ways you can use machine learning to find patterns in their previous interaction with your brand and use those to promote other helpful experiences and products, such as:

  • Offer a discount code for complementary products or services based on your customer’s purchase history
  • Suggest products your customers might like based on their browsing or purchase history
  • Include targeted product suggestions in the post-purchase confirmation page and emails
  • Offer a loyalty program that rewards customers with personalized discounts based on their past purchases
  • Use retargeting ads to show customers products they have previously shown interest in

Create contextual user onboarding flows, drive adoption of new features, and make in-app announcements with Whatfix

Whatfix is a no-code digital adoption platform that enables product managers to create contextual in-app guidance, product-led user onboarding, and self-help user support – all without engineering dependencies. With Whatfix, create branded product tours, user onboarding checklists, interactive walkthroughs, pop-ups, smart tips, and more – all enabling customers and users with contextual guidance at the moment need. With Whatfix, analyze, build, and deliver better user experiences.

6. Monitor and analyze customer tickets and support issues

You can use customer service platforms that now offer automated tagging solutions that use machine learning to group tickets into buckets. Likewise, you can use product analytics to track the self-help resources your customers visit, how long they spend there, and any signs of frustration that signal your support resources aren’t working for them.


7. Offer incentives and loyalty programs for repeat business

Loyalty perks can range from offering customers a discount on their next purchase to free shipping on certain items to early access to new products, and to exclusive company-branded experiences.

It doesn’t matter how much money or time you invest into getting the program off the ground—your goal is to cultivate a sense of community with your strongest customers so you can turn them into repeat buyers and brand evangelists.

It can be a coupon, t-shirt, handwritten note, or Amazon gift card, but the premise is simple: if you cultivate your customers’ goodwill and genuinely treat them nicely, you’ll be top of mind when they eventually need more of what your business offers.

8. Offer surprise upgrades

Bumping customers into a higher tier for free, even for a limited time, will leave an impression.

In practical terms, a free upgrade, an extended trial, or just a sample of your product catalog helps you get your foot in the door—it gives you enough time to impress your customer, gets them to notice the change in their lifestyle (or workflow) your product/service offers, and builds the kind of rapport that leads to positive word-of-mouth.

To take it a step further, pair your surprise upgrade with a check-in/walkthrough/demo to kickstart a conversation and answer any questions your undecided buyers may have.

5 Benefits of After-Sales Service

Paying attention to your after-sales service experience helps you cultivate your customers’ loyalty, improves your brand’s reputation, and helps you better understand your customers. Here are five benefits of an outstanding after-sales service experience.

1. Increased customer satisfaction

Contrary to popular opinion, this Gartner research brief claims that customers don’t want you to go above and beyond—they just want low-effort interactions with your business. A customer-centric after-sales service program helps reduce complaints, chargebacks, bad reviews, and poor word-of-mouth, and helps you cultivate a positive brand reputation.

2. Improved brand reputation

Amazon has developed such a bullet-proof reputation that customers have come to expect a 30-day return window as the default. Likewise, if you check the music community on Facebook & Reddit, Sweetwater (musical equipment retailer) always gets high praise because of the white-glove after-sales service they offer customers, even months after purchases.

3. Increased revenue

According to Bain & Company, increasing your customer retention by just 5% can grow your profits by 25% to 95%. We can draw a straight from after-sales service to a better customer experience, especially since 94% of customers claim that positive customer experiences encourage them to continue buying from the same brand.

% of customers who say positive customer experiences encourage them to continue buying from the same brand

4. Competitive advantage

As customers cultivate higher expectations for after-sales service, many brands will undoubtedly fall behind. But this is an opportunity to distinguish yours with the promise of responsive returns, generous warranties, and fast replies to support tickets. 

If your product/service has feature parity with your major competitors, customers have to narrow down their options by adjacent metrics like support responsiveness, pricing, etc. If you can guarantee that customers will always get the help they need, even after the purchase, it’ll make you a more attractive option.

5. Enhanced customer insights

After-sales service is not just a stopgap solution to de-escalate angry customers—it’s an essential part of the customer discovery process that helps you understand where you could improve your product/services and speed up support with DIY resources. Among others, you can provide your customers with surveys, polls, and questions and track CX metrics like CSAT, customer effort score, and average handle time to help you understand where your customer experience strategy might need to change.

6 Common Complaints About After-Sales Service

Back in 2011, researchers at Gartner discovered that trying to ‘wow’ customers doesn’t impress them as much as when they can get their issues resolved effortlessly.

In the book, The Effortless Experience, the team found that “loyalty is driven by how well a company delivers on its basic promises and solves day-to-day problems, not on how spectacular its service experience might be. Most customers don’t want to be ‘wowed’; they want an effortless experience.”

Likewise, we can safely assume that any effort customers have to make that doesn’t result in their issues being resolved will only get them aggravated. Here are some of those pitfalls that can irritate your customers after the sale.

1. Long wait times to speak with customer service representatives

According to Zendesk’s 2020 Customer Experience Trends Report, nearly 60% of customers consider long wait times the most frustrating part of the customer experience. Whether it’s because of your limited service hours or poorly trained support reps, long holds will dent your reputation with customers and reduce the likelihood they’ll patronize you again.

% of customers who consider long wait times the most frustrating part of the customer experience

2. Unhelpful or unfriendly customer service representatives

This poll of 5k respondents shows that 27% of American consumers consider ineffective support the lowest an interaction can get—while you might save a few bucks staffing your support team with untrained agents, it will hurt your brand once customers form a negative opinion about your business.

3. Difficulty reaching customer service by phone or email

A large percentage of customers prefer phone and email support – 59% and 57% respectively, according to Salesforce. That’s mainly because they expect they can connect with a live agent immediately. Or, in the case of email, they know they can drop a message asynchronously and hear back when it’s convenient for your support. Additionally, there are over a billion email and mobile phone users – a demographic that no doubt includes most or all of your existing customers.

Not supporting these channels adds more hoops for customers to jump through to contact your help team and will reduce tickets as predictably as it hurts your CSAT score.

4. Unresponsive or slow response to customer inquiries

According to the Statista poll we quoted above, slow responses are the second-highest cause of frustration with customer support, right behind ineffectiveness. Even if you make customers wait, explain how long they should expect to wait before hearing back, and make sure you offer a wide variety of self-help content to fill the gap.

5. Inconsistent or unreliable product repairs or replacements

By the time a customer complains about an issue with your product, you’re already on poor footing—the best way to salvage the situation and increase the chances of getting their business another time would be to fix or replace the faulty unit(s). Otherwise, you’ll waste your customers’ time shipping products back and forth, disputing your replacement warranty, and maybe even exposing your business to legal liability if they decide to drag you to small claims court.

6. Inadequate warranty coverage or unclear return and exchange policies

If customers feel like they are not adequately protected in the event of a defect or malfunction, they may be less likely to make a purchase, or may choose to patronize a competitor instead. This leads to a decline in sales, revenues, and customer loyalty. 

To avoid this, your warranty policies should be clear and detailed, with any exceptions spelled out clearly at purchase so that customers don’t feel cheated by the fine print if they need to swap a product or file for a refund.

gartner logo
"Loyalty is driven by how well a company delivers on its basic promises and solves day-to-day problems, not on how spectacular its service experience might be. Most customers don’t want to be ‘wowed’; they want an effortless experience.”

7 Key Metrics For Measuring After-Sales Service Success

Here are seven key metrics for measuring after-sales success:

1. Customer satisfaction score

A customer satisfaction rating is just one of several customer experience metrics covered at Whatfix. It’s designed like a net promoter survey, but it’s usually asked after a purchase, upsell, or a customer’s interaction with your after-sale support team.

2. Repeat purchase rates

Your repeat purchase rate measures the percentage of your customers who return to patronize your business again after the initial purchase.

3. Referrals

This refers to customers that start patronizing your business as a result of positive word-of-mouth and 1:1 references from their network. Obviously, if your customers are satisfied with your product enough to recommend it, you can safely assume your after-sale service model is working effectively.

4. Net promoter score (NPS)

NPS measures how likely your existing customers are to recommend your product/service to their network on a scale of 0 (not likely at all) to 10 (extremely likely).

5. Customer retention rate (CRR)

Customer retention rate (CRR) measures the percentage of your (paying) customers who stick around after a period of time. It’s often used by SaaS & digital product businesses where users are more likely to convert the longer they use a product.

To calculate your CRR, you need to:

  • Determine the total number of active users you had for a specific period minus the new users you acquired during that duration
  • Subtract the number of your active users at the end of a specific duration (say, a week, month, or year) by the number of users you had at the beginning
  • Multiply by 100

6. Average resolution time

Average time-to-resolution measures how long it takes to resolve a customer’s query, from the moment they open a ticket until it’s closed. It’s the same as your time-to-resolution, but it’s calculated for your entire customer base.

7. First contact resolution (FCR) rate

First contact resolution (FCR) rate measures the number of support tickets that are resolved during the first interaction with a customer without having to be escalated to different agents or channels (email, phone, social media, etc.).

5 Tools for Providing Exceptional After-Sales Service


1. SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey helps you create, share, and track responses to your after-sales surveys. It’s more than just a survey platform, allowing you to:

  • Integrate with third-party tools and custom applications using SurveyMonkey’s API
  • Choose from over 280 templates that range from path-to-purchase surveys to retail
  • Customize your surveys with polls, questionnaires, NPS calculators, Likert scales, etc.

You can use SurveyMonkey as a standalone solution, embed it in the rest of your customer experience stack (helpdesk, wiki software, etc.), or even share it on social media (e.g., Facebook), using tools such as the platform’s Facebook Collector.

surveymonkey knowledge base
salesforce logo

2. Salesforce

Salesforce is mainly known for its enterprise CRM suite designed for growing teams. But, the platform is a 360-degree growth engine that offers:

  • Helpdesk software for engaging customers via SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc.
  • Live chat functionality embedded on your website and applications
  • Predictive assistance via Salesforce’s Einstein AI that suggests helpful content for users to read and recommends next-best actions for SDRs, AEs, and support teams
  • Unlimited flexibility to develop custom applications for unique use cases

On the surface, Salesforce has a perfectly reasonable price tag. Still, once your company grows to the point where you can maximize the value the platform offers, you’ll have to invest significantly more into their platform, both in cash and training time.

Salesforce Health Cloud - 10 Healthcare CRM Softwares to Give You a 360-degree View of the Customer
freshdesk logo

3. Freshdesk

Freshdesk makes it easy to manage the after-sales support process easily with detailed customer profiles, all-in-one-place conversations, and simple feedback tools.

  • Manage every support channel—phone calls, SMS, WhatsApp, etc.—from one dashboard
  • Maintain extensive profiles where every support rep can see each customer’s history
  • Integrate with third-party platforms and CRMs, including Zoho, Nimble, MailChimp, etc.
  • Collect feedback with satisfaction surveys or a Feedback Widget embedded right on your website, portal, or any third-party web page you choose
intercom logo

4. Intercom

Intercom helps support teams resolve customer tickets faster, aggregate customer interactions (Twitter, Instagram, SMS, etc.) in one place, and reduce repetitive tickets with AI-powered answers and suggested articles.

  • Live chat allows customers to connect with support agents in real-time, providing quick and efficient support for their inquiries and concerns
  • Maintain a knowledge base of articles, guides, and tutorials that help customers better understand your products and services
  • Automate support tasks and offer 24/7 support with programmable chatbots
  • Integrate with third-party customer experience tools like Salesforce, Typeform, Qualtrics, etc.
  • Track customer experience KPIs such as your resolution rates, CSAT, response times, etc.
oracle fusion

5. Whatfix

Whatfix is a digital adoption platform (DAP) that helps make your products, applications, and websites easy to use. Our platform uses contextual onboarding tools to teach users how your product works and reduce pressure on your support team.

  • Create step-by-step walkthroughs of your product using our drag-and-drop editor
  • Send customers notifications, alerts, and highlights using our in-app messaging features
  • Integrate with third-party SaaS applications in your stack, e.g., ClickUp, Slack, Gmail, Asana, etc.
  • Build and maintain a help content library for customers can browse articles, guides, and tutorials.
  • Reduce your customer support team’s workload with self-help portals embedded right inside your product
Revolutionize Your After-Sales Service with Whatfix

Instead of waiting until your customers raise issues with your product, what if you preemptively answered the questions?

That’s what Whatfix solves—the platform helps digital businesses nudge customers and coach them step-by-step with contextual onboarding tools, product tours, and UX highlights such as tooltips, hotspots, and beacons.

Learn how Whatfix can transform your after-sales service with a second brain for teaching your customers on-demand.

Dive deeper with more customer support content.
Are you looking to become a more data-driven product manager? Explore our product analytic-centric content now.
What Is Whatfix?
Whatfix is a digital adoption platform that provides organizations with a no-code editor to create in-app guidance on any application that looks 100% native. With Whatfix, create interactive walkthroughs, product tours, task lists, smart tips, field validation, self-help wikis, hotspots, and more. Understand how users are engaging with your applications with advanced product analytics.
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