Products have a life “after the sale,” where the best customer experiences connect companies with their customers
Today’s purchase process has never been easier. A customer clicks “check out” on an e-commerce site and the anticipation of a new product arriving on their doorstep begins. But what happens once the product is opened? Who “phones home” back to the brand to let them know how it’s going?
Many businesses have yet to embrace that the products they sell are the conduit between their brand and their customers. The after-sale experience is dependent not only on the customer but on the product they’re using. The product is what fuels the customer experience following the sale, and just like the customer lifecycle, products also have a post-sale lifecycle. These go hand-in-hand -- there is no after-sale customer experience if they don’t have a product to enjoy.
The after-sale product lifecycle is what happens to your products the day they're brought home from the store or arrives on your customer’s doorstep.
What makes up a product lifecycle? Let’s dive in.
The Product Lifecycle: Defining the After-Sale Experience
The product lifecycle is made up of five stages: unboxing, onboarding, enjoying, sharing, and caring/maintaining. A customer has unique experiences during each of these stages—opportunities for brands to capitalize on these after-sale experiences through the product itself.
This is the first stage within the after-sale product lifecycle -- when the customer has brought the product home (whether from a retailer or from their doorstep). This stage, while the shortest in the lifecycle, is typically the most exciting for a customer as it is the first interaction they have with their product.
Many brands have an initial touchpoint either before or during the unboxing stage (an email or other communication saying, “Thank you for your purchase”) but this is typically when the after-sale engagement ends. Once the product is in the customers’ hands, the brand is off the hook. However, embracing all stages of the product lifecycle is where the true opportunity for a successful after-sale experience begins.
The onboarding phase is the “getting to know you” stage of the product lifecycle. During this time, the customer is actively engaged to learn more about the product—researching how to use it, how to take care of it, what other tools they may need, and more. At this point, the customer is on the brand’s website, scrolling through their social media channels, or flipping through an owner’s manual, to find and gather the information they need.
The customer is in control of the information that they are consuming and actively searching for new information to take care of their product. While the customer is actively searching, the brand is passive—it’s a one-way engagement that is driven solely by the consumer.
Now that the product is in the customer’s hands, the brand doesn’t have an engine to feed the information to the customer when they need it; they can only hope the customer searches for the information they need.
If the time-consuming search results prove helpful, they start feeling comfortable with the utilization of their purchase. The enjoyment phase in the product lifecycle is a simple one—consumers are using and enjoying the product.
They’ve reached a point where they’ve learned the nuances of their product and are finding extreme satisfaction, leaving no room for buyer’s remorse. When they begin to feel that admiration, it flows into not just a love for the product but an appreciation for what the brand has to offer.
As a result of the customer’s enjoyment, the hope is that the customer is so fond of the product that they become brand advocates. As an eager referral engine, they tell friends, family, and colleagues, recommending the business to others through online reviews, word of mouth, and shared experiences on social channels.
These brand loyalists are the means by which a brand can not only generate additional sales, but also expand its customer base. From a business perspective, it can significantly improve customer retention rates, increase sales, and fortify reputations. This lifetime value makes a business well-positioned to grow from successful experiences.
Caring & Maintaining
As we know, the honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever. Things naturally happen to products over time that break down that initial fresh-out-of-the-box lure. Without proper maintenance and attention throughout the entirety of its lifecycle with the customer, the process unravels itself—consumers stop sharing, stop enjoying, and move on to the next best thing.
The reality is, brands need to know what the product is saying—what it needs to stay at peak performance for their customer. If they did, they could offer education, alerts, or recommendations in real-time to stop a common glitch before it starts.
The Product Lifecycle: The Key to After-Sale Customer Experience
Looking holistically at the lifecycle of the product allows brands to create a value-added channel and retain loyal customers to drive the lifetime value of the relationship.
The understanding of each stage means brands can create personalized product touchpoints to strengthen customer relationships and ultimately increase revenue, decrease, churn, and deliver a better customer experience.
Leveraging the product lifecycle to drive product touchpoints at the right time can help to:
Businesses should invest in a Platform that can drive product touchpoints at exactly the right time, so customers have the information they need, when they need it, to successfully use a product or service across its lifecycle.
See what Blustream can do to support your product’s lifecycle!