What are you doing to help your buyer decide to click the “Buy” button?
Every business owner should ask this. The answer will change your view about customer support for sure!
Customer support is changing. The old days are gone.
Customer support is not a cost center; it’s now a revenue generator center. Present time business principles of the world are different from the past. Companies are investing big in pre-sale & after-sale support, treating it like the core of the business. Pre-sales support is as important as after-sales support.
Internet made it possible to offer 24/7 support through f.a.q, knowledgebase, and self-service. Chatbots are everywhere. Pre-sales support is essential to influence customer’s buying decisions more than ever. You have to focus on how customers engage with your brands and what impacts their buying journey.
But where should you put your best effort? Is it pre-sale support or after-sale support? What is important for you? How can you differentiate both?
In this blog, we’ll cover both pre-sale and after-sale support, the benefits, and what skills & requirements your support team will need to succeed in both fields.
What is Pre-Sales support?
Pre-sale support is the activities that happen before a sale is closed. In B2C business, pre-sale support is used to help customers through a series of question-answers, offerings important information through self-service knowledgebase or chatbots.
Pre-sales support’s main focus is to help customers make their buying decisions effortlessly and hurdle-free their onboarding process. As a result, customers can think clearly and make a fast decision.
Pre-sale support activity includes:
- Qualifying a lead
- Proposing benefits and product sales pitch
- Closing sales or renewing deals
Benefits of pre-sales support
There are clear benefits of pre-sales support for a business’s sales operation. But to achieve success, your sales and pre-sales support teams must understand their roles. It is essential to have a symbiotic relationship for both two teams to gain the most benefits.
It is the first condition of pre-sale success.
Pre-sale support team knows a customer’s needs and what they are looking for in a product. Their technical knowledge can help the sales team to answer customer’s questions and help the sales team to focus on the sales process rather than managing customer’s queries.
Pre-sale support team can identify qualified leads easily and help the sales team with their approach. They can tweak the sales pitch based on the customer’s persona, making it easy for the sales team to propose products to new customers.
Pre-sale support team’s direct input will increase the efficiency of the sales process. As a result, sales team will close the deal fast and onboard the customers without a hitch. The more this process works efficiently, the more customers can be onboarded by the sales team. That means more sales and more profit for you.
Winning a new customer is hard. You must ensure your buyers get more value from their purchases. Pre-sale support team ensures this. They educate new customers on features, product functionality and benefits. So a new customer can make a fast decision. Pre-sales support teams produce customer insights, business proposals and case studies for sales teams.
Not only pre-sale support team helps the sales process, but their work with customers also builds the ground for customer loyalty. Pre-sale support can provide feedback to the sales team on improving the sales process and customer’s onboarding journey. They can share insights of customer’s needs from their first contact experience with the development team to improve the product. Their recommendations can help you improve the product and increase customer retention.
Skills & requirements for pre-sale support
The pre-sale support team needs various skills and requirements based on their activities. The most required skills are:
1. Industry & Customer knowledge
Pre-sale support team must have industry knowledge related to the products and services. They should have perfect knowledge about the targeted customer demographics. The more they know the industry and the audience, the more they can easily identify leads that will enter the sales process and make successful purchases.
2. Strong Understanding and Problem-solving skills
The pre-sale support team must deeply understand the products and the sales process to answer every customer question. They need problem-solving skills across various platforms if the business offers omnichannel support. They need to engage customers through direct phone calls, email, chatbox, social media and often video calls.
3. Customer focus mentality
In B2C sales, customers are the main elements of your sales process. Pre-sales support team must focus everything on customers and do everything fulfilling a customer’s needs. You need to know what your customer wants and what they are looking for in this deal. Then you can sell the product to solve their need.
4. Research capabilities
Pre-sale support team activity includes research work such as market research, user experience research, product research and competitors research. It is important to have essential research skills to gather information about the industry and its audience. Performing customer and data analysis skills are necessary for extensive research work too.
5. Technical skills
For an efficient sales process, pre-sale support teams have to help sales team write call scripts, sales proposals and identify solutions to customer pain points before that happens. These require full technical skills.
6. Soft skills
There are essential soft skills pre-sale support team members must have, like – good communication traits, strong negotiation skills, easy to adapt to new issues, self-motivated, and ability to work under pressure and independently.
What is After-Sales support?
After-sales support is the support business provides to its customers after their initial purchase. After-sales support, often called after-sales service is an essential part of a business. Most companies offer after-sales support as an extension of their marketing strategy to retain customers for the long term.
Great after-sales support is the main ingredient of customer satisfaction.
Typical after-sales service includes support for trial upgrades, renewals, training, product education, repairs, or any refund & exchanges. It varies from industry to industry. In the old days, companies treated after-sales support as an extension of their business. Most of it was outsourced by cheap third-parties. Now modern business focuses completely on customer support to run their business. After-sales service is a big part of this new business strategy.
Companies like Amazon, Zappos & Google put more effort into customer satisfaction. Higher customer satisfaction leads to brand loyalty and organic word-to-word marketing. Customers nowadays also seek companies product’s & services based on their’s after-sales customer support reviews.
Benefits of after-sales support
Companies invest millions in after-sales services. It is now the main focus of their marketing strategy. Great products are not enough if your after-sales support is horrible. Customers will take a u-turn and look for competitors with good after-sales customer support.
Why is it so important to invest in after-sales support? There are many solid reasons you should start investing in your support team right when you open your business.
The main reasons are:
- Customer satisfaction. Yes, taking care of your customer’s needs after their initial purchase is necessary. You don’t want angry customers raving on social media about poor after-sales support about your brand. You are always one tweet, one TikTok video, or one bad review away from becoming a negative viral story. Not all virality is good. It can affect your business and people’s perspective about your brand.
- Great after-sales support helps you build a loyal customer base and improve your brand image.
- After-sales support experience helps you connect with your customers deeper and boost trust. Trust plays a great role in building long-term customer relationships.
- A fully satisfied customer is a walking billboard for your company. Customers who come through great after-sales support will feel great about their experience. They will share their experience with others. They will recommend your brands to their friends and family. They will talk about how great your brand is on their tweets, Facebook posts, blog posts, or TikTok videos. Word-of-mouth marketing starts this way. Positive reviews like these attract new customers. That’s hard to achieve with a tight paid marketing budget.
- When your after-sales support satisfies your current customer base, they will keep coming back to your brand. This will increases your customer retention and reduce churn rates. These two metrics are important for business growth and revenue. Satisfied customers will stay longer with you, buy more products from you and sometimes work as your brand ambassador without any expectations.
Skills & requirements for after-sale support
After-sales support requires more soft skills than pre-sales support requirements. Because after-sales support team works with customers for long-term and focuses on building trust.
Here are the main skills & requirements you should look into in your after-sales support team people:
It is a must-have soft skill for support people. Although empathy is an emotion, so why are we labeling it a soft skill? Empathy is the ability to understand other’s emotions, their point of view, and imagine yourself in their shoes. As a support agent, you must have the empathy to understand your clients, their problems, their pain, and you have to imagine yourself in their place. Then you can genuinely connect with your customers, and your solution will be more impactful.
2. Active listening
This is another powerful skill many people ignore. Active listening is listening to someone and repeating their words to ensure you understand them. Customers get frustrated when they feel ignored. Agent’s job is to calm them down, listen carefully, and solve the problem.
3. Proactive support
Proactive support means providing solutions to customers before they encounter problems. Support agents look for bugs, problems, and hurdles their customers may encounter. They notify bugs to product teams, write down solutions to future problems and share that with customers. After-sales support agents proactively do things before a customer asks. Proactiveness is another important skill a support agent must acquire. You must have the ability to work independently. You must have the eye to look for problems, product knowledge, and the ability to convey the information properly.
4. Product knowledge & technical skill
After-sales support agents must have proper product knowledge. Because after the initial purchase, they are the ones who will have to educate & train new customers about features and benefits. Most times, their role will shift between trainer & troubleshooters. You have to write documentation, guides and create video tutorials for customers understanding. You must have technical skills related to helpdesk tools, tracking, and reporting. These technical skills will come in handy while communicating with customers.
5. Communication skills
After-sales team has to be in constant communication with customers. You must learn what to say, type or use in communication forms and what makes the most positive impact. You have to keep customers up-to-date with future updates, renewal notices, product news & deals. You must have the ability to work under pressure because you may have to attend to multiple customers at a time. Great communication skills will pay off in multi-tasking situations.
6. Analytical & problem-solving skills
An analytical mind will come in handy for support agent’s work. Most times after-sales support team has to go through customer data and customer service metrics to determine the marketing approach and predict future sales. You may have to create reports with data and share them with other teams regularly. Agents with quick problem-solving skills can easily identify bugs and report that to the product team.
Pre-Sales & After-Sales Support: Why you need both!
Both pre-sale & after-sale support are important for business. They are like two sides of the same coin. They do the same kind of work but with a different approach. They aim to achieve two types of goals.
Pre-sales support aims for proper interaction with first-time customers and influences their buying decision. On the other hand, after-sales support focuses on deep bonding, nurturing customer loyalty, higher satisfaction, and customer retention.
Businesses can’t grow without them. Pre-sales support helps the sales team to streamline their sales process, answer customer questions and demonstrate product abilities. They fulfill customer expectations and speed up their buying decision.
After-sales support helps new customers from the onboarding process to using the products. They help them with education and relevant information. They cut down any obstacles from the onboarding process and make it smooth for customers to learn the product without wasting time. After-sales support proactively offers solutions. They keep customers engage, ensure high satisfaction and share relevant data with other teams. Their research helps overall product growth because they have a direct relationship with customers.
You need both pre-sale & after-sale support because when their work sync perfectly can increase customer retention and reduce churn rates exceptionally. It depends on how you balance and run both teams. Keep your team members in constant touch to get the most value and have a strong internal communication process.
An effective customer support team leaves a lasting impression on its customers. Your agents can turn rude customers into happy customers by active listening and building trust. This way, they can convert an uninterested customer into an eager buyer.
Pre-sale & after-sale support has a significant influence on customer’s journey. Only, how you treat both teams and how much you invest in their growth makes a difference. Always appoint skilled persons for both teams, train them properly and give them the freedom to do everything to ensure customer success. Focus on how much value you can deliver on every aspect of customer interaction. You will see higher customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, and retention.