Why the aftermarket should never be an afterthought

The post-purchase experience is mediocre at best for most consumers, and it’s a missed opportunity for your brand.

The CMO Council’s recent report, Elevate What Consumers Appreciate, found that while most brands identify enhancing the product ownership experience as a key differentiator, there’s a significant gap in their efforts to take advantage of post-purchase revenue, profit and relationship-building opportunities.

Aftermarket service and support is a critical aspect of the customer experience, especially in today’s $12 trillion consumer durables market, notes the CMO Council, particularly in sectors such as automotive, office products, outdoor equipment, power tools and consumer electronics. It represents a significant opportunity to drive incremental revenue for retailers and manufacturers alike.

In the new era of the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected products, the post-purchase experience will become even more important. Supported by their retail and aftermarket service partners, manufacturers will to look to elevate the experience of owning, operating, maintaining, troubleshooting and repairing durable goods.

Consumers are underwhelmed

Although CMOs are paying lip service to the post-purchase experience, consumers aren’t feeling the love. The CMO Council report found 60 percent reported that their post-purchase experience was underwhelming, and 56 percent were disappointed with service from retailers and ecommerce sites. Only 17 percent of consumers believe retailers care about their experience after they make their purchase.

An underserved aftermarket

The poor post-purchase experience is power problem–who’s in charge of the aftermarket?

The CMO Council report found that 93 percent of manufacturers already see the aftermarket as a huge opportunity. The problem is they aren’t in charge of it. More than 52 percent rely on their channel partners for the aftermarket, while 57 percent retailers say manufacturers are totally dependent. In addition, 36 percent of retailers say manufacturer commitment varies by brand.

Retailers also face challenges. Even though 71 percent see the aftermarket as an opportunity to improve customer lifetime value and relationships, their CMOs aren’t responsible for it. In fact, only six percent of retailer CMOs are responsible for the aftermarket, and only seven percent of CMOs at manufacturers. If either wants to seize the aftermarket opportunity, both need to get on the same page.

But right now, only 19 percent of manufacturers make more than 10 percent of their revenue from aftermarket services. Retailers fare better with 65 percent making 10 percent of their revenue from aftermarket services.

Get in front of the aftermarket

Some forward-thinking retailers are already focusing on the post-purchase experience.

Best Buy’s Geek Squad services are well-established to help customers maintain their computing purchases post-sale, and others are following suit. IKEA will provide more than furniture for assembly by buying TaskRabbit, an on-demand marketplace for finding workers to complete specific tasks. The retailer expects to learn from TaskRabbit’s digital expertise while adding a perk for IKEA shoppers.

Office Depot, meanwhile, acquired CompuCom to get into IT services, while Designer Shoe Warehouse is experimenting with in-store shoe repair, something consumers would normally seek from a third-party provider.

CMOs must step up

If companies want to maximize the significant investments they’re putting into customer experience, post-purchase experience merits more attention. CMOs need to be given the responsibility to take ownership of the aftermarket as a revenue and margin opportunity as well as a critical area of customer loyalty-building and brand attachment. Delivering an end-to-end customer experience means putting as much effort into what happens after the purchase to what happens before.