Aftersales as a growth opportunity: using data science to tap into an area that has been severely neglected to date

from | 31 January 2019 | Basics

All companies have one goal: to convince potential customers to buy their product or service. In many cases, however, it is the case that manufacturers or retailers are no longer interested in their customers to the same extent after the purchase as before. At a time when more and more connected products such as the Connected Car are coming onto the market and new business models are emerging, customer expectations are changing and aftersales is becoming more important. This article describes possible uses of data science in after-sales customer care.

After the purchase is before the purchase

Today, the relationship between customers and companies goes beyond the moment of purchase. This does not only apply to connected technology products such as cars, smartphones or game consoles, for which updates, maintenance and new features are offered. Also in the "Fast Moving Consumer Goods" (FMCG) or in the fashion sector are individual Offers and good Service Preconditions for a positive, long-term Customer loyalty.

In the course of this, the area Aftersales and is still often underestimated in terms of its importance and possibilities. According to a recent study by McKinsey ("The changing aftermarket game), far too few companies in the automotive sector are prepared for the growing importance of aftersales. The challenge of being able to provide digital and driving data-based services such as updates is one that 80 percent of the suppliers surveyed have not yet grown.

Aftersales as the key to the customer experience

Certain events, such as recalls or repeated repairs, significantly reduce customer satisfaction. Companies that have no knowledge about the level of customer satisfaction can hardly counteract customer churn. In the best case scenario, customers find themselves in a state of "Marketing funnel" (sales funnel) of a company and regularly receive, for example, newsletters, invitations to customer events or even a greeting card for their birthday. In most cases, however, there is no concrete reference to the Individual customer journey of a customer.

Measuring customer satisfaction with data science

For one of our customers in the automotive industry, we have developed a tool that makes customer satisfaction measurable. To do this, we linked data from customer surveys with evaluations of warranty and workshop data. With repeated workshop visits, it was possible to target specific customer groups, prioritise individual cases or offer additional benefits.

Through targeted actions of this kind, numerous additional contact points between customers and companies can be established in aftersales. Dealers and manufacturers who do not take advantage of these opportunities in the aftersales area are wasting enormous potential. According to a study Aftersales services in the automotive sector up to 80 per cent of the profit share off.

Advantages of a comprehensive aftersales approach

There are a number of reasons for expanding the aftersales area: On the one hand, companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors through aftersales service offerings. On the other hand, such offers increase the Customer satisfaction and thus the Binding to the company.

Last but not least, a wide range of aftersales offers represents an important additional Source of income for companies. Advantages like these open up both in the consumer sector (B2C) and in the B2B sector. In the latter case, the increased use of mobile phones can be seen in the last few years. "Everything-as-a-Service or "X-as-a-Service" business models. These are always based on a data-driven approach.

The CommunitiesThe successes of connected products, the iPhone or Tesla prove how high customer loyalty is after the purchase - these products are characterised by a high level of customer loyalty. Distinct aftersales ecosystem out. Updates, apps or subscriptions that can be booked at a later date play a central role in these products.

Expansion, extension and optimisation of digital services

The realignment of business models is becoming necessary, among other things, because machines are being replaced by approaches such as Predictive Maintenance are getting better and better, fail less often and thus have a longer service life. In order to still be able to generate sales, companies are increasingly relying on aftersales - in the course of this, the aftersales area is experiencing an upgrading in the industrial and production environment. An important prerequisite for this are networked machines or production facilities. This is because a digitalised and networked environment provides important starting points for the planning of additional aftersales offers (Data Maturity Assessment).

This is where it becomes clear what it means to sell a service instead of a product in the future: The forklift manufacturer Linde no longer simply offers forklifts. It also offers forklift trucks-as-a-service, logistics services, fleet management and process improvement.

Reading Tip: Read also our blog article on the topic "Every company can become part of Industry 4.0."

The motto is: Omnichannel

Through this development and the possibilities that Data Science Aftersales in particular is gaining massively in importance. There are many ways to improve the Value chain in the aftersales area: For example, through additional offers, up-selling or cross-selling options, personalised recommendations, promotions or discounts.

In order to reach customers in the best possible way, it is advisable in this context to maintain proximity to the customer through Diversification of digital channels intensify. This is achieved, for example, through the expansion of offers in the following areas:

  • Social Media & Social Selling
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Homepage offer
  • Online shops

Aftersales actively contributes to growth

In the future, no company can afford to lose its loyal customers to the competition. With a differentiated aftersales offer, companies not only stand out from the rest of the market, they also understand their customers better and better. These insights - like those about customer satisfaction - are delivered by Data Science in the aftersales area.

Especially with networked products such as the Connected Car or networked production facilities, numerous additional options can be offered in aftersales. These include services that improve usage, updates that enable even more features and better performance, or additional options that can be optionally booked. For an automotive manufacturer, we have developed a tool that identifies expiring service packages and offers them to the customer. Customised extension or expansion options recommends.

Today, customer loyalty to a particular brand is becoming weaker and weaker. Manufacturers and retailers must therefore positive customer experience, especially after the actual purchase, in mind. The expansion of aftersales serves to signal to the customer that a company is also interested in him after the purchase. The opportunity this offers is particularly in the aftersales area: In addition to additional revenue opportunities through up-selling, cross-selling and individual offers, after-sales customer care creates the prerequisite for satisfied and loyal customers.


Michaela Tiedemann

Michaela Tiedemann has been part of the Alexander Thamm GmbH team since the early start-up days. She has actively shaped the development from a fast-moving, spontaneous start-up to a successful company. With the founding of her own family, a whole new chapter began for Michaela Tiedemann at the same time. Hanging up her job, however, was out of the question for the new mother. Instead, she developed a strategy to reconcile her job as Chief Marketing Officer with her role as a mother.

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