I purchased a Compaq computer at an exhibition a few years ago. The stall was bursting at the seams with sales people trying to convince customers to buy computers and computer peripherals. And I can tell you that these sales people were driven. They smiled, they joked, they pleaded, they convinced and yes, they got the job done. So by the end of it all, I was the proud owner of a new computer. But alas, when I reached home, I realized that one of the cords was missing. Unfortunately though, it was well past nine and it was also the last day of the exhibition. So my only way out was to contact the retailer by phone the next day. And that’s when the trouble started. I was shuffled from department to department, kept on hold and ultimately disowned by the company. In the end, I had to go in person to the office and essentially fight my way to getting the cord.

I can tell you that the experience left a bad taste in my mouth. The after sales service was just as terrible as how great the sale experience had been. Needless to say, that wasn’t the last computer I bought, but it was certainly the last time that I bought anything from that retailer. The point I’m trying to drive home here is that most companies focus solely on sales. And once the sale is done, they conveniently forget about the customer and rush to make the next sale. This is one of the biggest reasons why customers never return. When a product or service is sold, there are two aspects that every company should keep in mind. First, it is selling an experience. Hence, it should ensure that the customer enjoys excellent after sales service till the point (and if possible, even beyond) it has offered the warranty. Second, every customer has the potential to be tapped for more sales, for themselves and for others as well.

There are plenty of reasons why servicing existing customers is a better idea than going after new ones. The cost, the lock-in, the mutual understanding and so on. And yet, businesses continue to operate in a way that marks them as unreliable entities out to make a quick buck. While sales remains a crucial function since it drives the lifeline of any business, neglecting after sales service is tantamount to cutting open the goose that lays the golden egg. Rather than nurturing the customers, the company is in effect committing hara-kiri by disowning them the moment the sale is completed. This instantly negates any goodwill that has been created at the time of the sale and builds resentment that can spill over into larger groups through word-of-mouth. However, after sales service is hard work. It involves creating robust processes and training staff to ensure that they are capable of handling any and all types of customer complaints. But if done properly, it can ensure loyal customers even in the face of complaints.