While many ecommerce brands focus the majority of their attention on the purchase funnel and optimizing for conversion, a key piece of the customer journey tends to get left out — the post-purchase experience with value-added.
But post-purchase is truly where customer loyalty is built. And today’s environment is too competitive to forget about your customers after the sale.
The path between when a customer makes their first purchase to when they become a brand advocate is a long one — and the traditional purchase funnel doesn’t offer much insights on how to get there.
So how can brands improve the experience at every touchpoint, including post-purchase? By offering value-added services.
What Are Value-Added Services?
Value-added services add value and inject further touchpoints into the end-to-end shopping experience. These touchpoints keep customers engaged, solve problems more quickly, drive transactions and protect products.
Through these touchpoints, brands are building deeper connections that ultimately drive loyalty.
Best of all, today’s modern solutions make it possible for brands of all sizes to deliver value-added services across the loyalty loop.
4 Key Value-Added Service Examples
While there are many example of value-added services, some of the examples that we’ll dive more into include:
- Product protection.
- Customer reviews and testimonials.
- Loyalty programs.
- Self-service returns.
1. Product protection offers peace of mind.
Many major retailers have been offering product protection for years — but only in the last several years have technology-enabled companies, like Extend, made these programs more accessible to smaller retailers and manufacturers.
Product protection helps keep customers in a working product by offering repair and/or replace benefits on certain types of items. It helps conversion by giving customers peace of mind, then drives repeat purchases through replacements and high customer satisfaction.
Product protection is great for merchants because it’s another opportunity to continue the dialogue with your customers, to get them back to your website. If you’re solving your customers’ pain points, they will come back.
Additionally, Extend’s product protection requires no up-front fees, making it even more valuable because it drives pure profit without additional overhead.
And while not everyone will buy a protection plan on every product, not being able to sell them to the customers that want them leaves money on the table and customers underserved.
2. Customer reviews and testimonials build trust.
Customer reviews are essential if you’re still building brand trust. They can help a customer feel more confident about making purchases — especially when shopping online.
By featuring reviews on product pages, consumers know other shoppers have used the product and had great things to say about it. Online reviews help consumers make smart and better choices.
In fact, in a 2021 survey with London Research, Trustpilot found that authentic customer reviews and star ratings are now firmly established as a go-to source of information for the majority of shoppers. Sixty-four percent of US consumers say they’re ‘often’ or ‘very often’ influenced by customer reviews during the journey to purchase, while 63% say the same for star ratings.
And what’s the best way to get reviews from customers? Simply ask! For example, brands can integrate review invitations from Trustpilot into the customer experience to ensure that every single customer receives an invitation at the right time.
This ensures that you get more reviews from all customers, and that your reviews are representative of the customer experience.
3. Loyalty programs keep customers coming back.
Loyalty programs are an excellent opportunity to reward customers for repeat purchases. They also provide the added benefit of keeping them in your ecosystem and connected to your brand.
Many loyalty programs are free or are based on frequency of purchases, while others function more like subscriptions. Many merchants give customers the option of choosing one or the other.
And then to keep in contact with loyalty members, brands can use email marketing tools, like Klaviyo, to send notifications about early sale access, free shipping, exclusive discounts or sneak peeks of new products.
However, the key to a loyalty program that drives customer satisfaction while creating value is finding the right balance between give and take. Customers give their data for what they’ll get in return — the bigger the ask, the bigger the reward should be.
4. Self-service returns reduce friction.
For customers, it’s already frustrating when they receive an incorrect product or a product that fails to meet expectations. But if the returns process isn’t customer-friendly, or worse — costs the customer more money — they will be even more unlikely to buy again.
To solve this challenge, brands should implement a simple, self-service returns process. For example, provide packaging and shipping labels along with the product to enable the customer themselves to initiate the return.
When that’s not possible, look into other options. For instance, brands that also have a brick-and-mortar store can encourage customers who bought online to return in-store. Include messaging in transactional emails to let customers know that in-store returns can be made without additional cost.
Another option is to help customers initiate the process online by using a QR code on the receipt to take them right to their order to initiate a return, and offering convenient third-party drop-off locations (like lockers).
Solutions that enable frictionless returns decrease costs, plus drive conversion, repeat purchases and customer satisfaction.
The Final Word
The new wave of innovation in customer experience is value-added services. Merchants can combat customer frustration, from the moment customers start browsing products to making sure they can continue to use their products.
Brands who invest in value-added services are well-positioned to anticipate customer expectations, increase sales, and create brand advocates — at every step of the post-purchase journey.