Aftersales Service: Successful Customer Retention Through Services

Published: 2023-02-01 Updated: 2023-11-10

Aftersales service is an important success factor for companies today. It brings suppliers and customers closer together and offers potential for the development of new, digital business models. What are typical services in aftersales? What are the opportunities and challenges for mechanical and plant engineering? The following overview provides answers and a definition of the term after-sales service.

Definition and objectives of aftersales service

The term aftersales service covers all the services that a manufacturer or service provider offers its customers after the sale. This includes, for example, repairs or technical support. Aftersales customer support is becoming increasingly important for manufacturers for two reasons: 

  • Business with new products is stagnating. Many customers have to save money and invest more in efficiency than in new machines. 
  • Competition and cost pressure are high. Companies therefore need to develop new business models. With services, they position themselves as a reliable partner beyond the sale of products. 

The most important goal in the aftersales business is to increase customer satisfaction and sales. Positive aftersales experiences strengthen long-term customer loyalty. In the best case, they lead to regular customers helping to win new customers through recommendations. Aftersales managers thus also lend a helping hand to marketing and sales management. What's more, satisfied customers are open to cross-selling. Good after-sales service gives existing customers an incentive to buy more of a company's products. 

What is the difference between aftersales and aftersales service?

Basically, aftersales includes all activities for customer retention that are offered after the sale of a machine or plant. Aftersales service is a subsection of this. It includes services aimed at solving problems in connection with a sold product. 

The term aftersales is therefore broader than aftersales service. The measures taken after the product has been sold are also referred to as aftersales management. 

Examples of after-sales measures

Companies in the mechanical and plant engineering sector can offer various services after the sale of their products. The following overview summarizes typical aftersales measures: 

  • Repair and maintenance: machine builders provide repair services to ensure that their products function optimally in customers' plants. 
  • Spare parts: If parts of machines wear out or become damaged, machine and plant builders can offer replacements. Business with spare parts and tools is an important source of income for many manufacturers today. 
  • Advice and support: Via live chats, chat bots, by phone or in personal conversations, machine builders are available to assist their customers with regard to questions or problems. 
  • Training: Sharing knowledge about a product is a good tool for building customer loyalty and empowers plant operators to help themselves. This relieves the burden on plant manufacturers' customer service departments. 
  • Self-service: Many organizations offer their customers the opportunity to find the spare part or information they need themselves, for example via a help center. 


The challenges of providing aftersales services

Machinery and plant manufacturers often achieve a higher margin with aftersales services than with the actual sale of their products. It is worthwhile for them to invest in service measures. The challenge for aftersales management is to focus on customer needs and meet all customer requirements. 

But the expectations are high: Many B2B customers expect round-the-clock support with fast response times. After all, plant operators in particular depend on a quick and uncomplicated solution to their problems with machines and systems. To meet these requirements, more and more companies are relying on digitization and automation. 

Example: Digital spare parts catalogs contain up-to-date information on various parts. If the catalog can be used intuitively and is linked to an online store, the retailer can use it to generate sales around the clock. 

Another challenge to providing good service is the qualification and motivation of aftersales staff. However, the shortage of skilled workers makes it difficult to find qualified employees for customer service. This often leads to existing teams being overloaded with the new tasks and support quality suffering as a result. 

Modern software takes the pressure off aftersales support staff. It helps to increase productivity in service. In a service information system, for example, they can quickly find the information they need. This enables them to provide customers with targeted help for an immediate problem. 

Service technicians also benefit from such a system: Since information can usually be accessed remotely, they can access it at the customer's site and solve problems on the first call. This saves time and travel costs. 

Conclusion: The sale of a product is just the beginning

No company can avoid the topic of aftersales service any longer. With targeted aftersales measures, they have the opportunity to strengthen customer relationships in the long term. In addition, aftersales service is an important instrument for generating sales with suitable products and services over the entire service life of machines and systems. 

Another advantage is that aftersales managers receive valuable feedback in their interaction with customers. This information is the basis for continuously improving products and services. Sales, marketing and product development also benefit from aftersales service. 

The task of aftersales management is to coordinate measures such as self-service or repairs. With the support of software such as a service information system or digital spare parts catalogs, this can be done effortlessly. In this way, aftersales management builds up a strong relationship with customers beyond sales and becomes an indispensable partner for them.  

By the way: Tips for successful aftersales management and the digitalization of your service can be found on the Quanos blog