With durable goods markets in flux, after-sales service has become an important way for manufacturers to continue driving revenue. But there’s another side to the equation that’s too often overlooked: the customer. While after-sales service is often viewed from a “bottom line” perspective, a well-maintained service business infrastructure is as important to customer satisfaction as it is to as revenue and margins.

After-sales service is a source of competitive differentiation, and businesses should view it that way. In today’s technology-centric, on-demand economy, earning customer loyalty is hard, and maintaining it is a daily challenge. If a customer has a bad service experience, they’re likely to take their business elsewhere. And once they’re gone, it can be difficult to win them back. In fact, according to BI Intelligence, it takes “12 positive customer experiences to negate the poor impression left behind from one unresolved, bad experience.”

So, the easiest and most cost-effective way to keep customers happy and coming back is to deliver a positive service experience every time they step through the door. With this in mind, here are three ways after-sales service technology can help improve customer success, as well as a company’s bottom line:

Data Management

Managing large and complex global operations can be both daunting and time-consuming – especially in the service industry. And while manual processes and outdated tools like Excel spreadsheets are familiar, they’re actually inefficient and can lead to service part availability issues and poor customer experiences. Additionally, although many organisations have begun to invest in more sophisticated data infrastructure, data may not be managed in a central hub – leading to inaccurate information, slower reaction times, sales inefficiencies, and by extension, poor customer service and diminished loyalty.

With that in mind, companies need to adopt solutions that offer a centralised view of the available data. Ideally data should be customisable and adjustable in real-time to highlight the most pertinent points on both a local and global level. This will enable the best intelligence so that businesses can stay on top of internal processes as well as broader trends in order to meet customer needs.

Service Parts Inventory Control

According to Harvard Business Review, more than 50 percent of service calls fail due to a missing part. This leads to disgruntled customers, as well as lost profits and revenue for manufacturers. Exceptional – and profitable – service means having the correct parts at the right place and time. And by adopting advanced service parts inventory management solutions, companies can keep tabs on what products are needed in which locations – and ultimately keep customers happy.

Specifically, such solutions play a pivotal role in: controlling and gaining visibility over dealer inventory and sales; improving forecasting for an entire network by taking into account specific feedback from each dealer; easily disseminating information on new products for better customer education and service; and decreasing the write-offs and carrying costs associated with stock that goes unsold and sits on the shelf.

Service Parts Pricing

Pricing is a foremost factor for shoppers when they’re deciding whether to make a purchase. Fifty-six per cent of millennials shop at their favourite retailer because of price. Modern after-sales service solutions allow manufacturers or distributors to charge the optimal price based on different data-driven insights. For example, advanced pricing solutions can instantly react to a variety of market conditions, including weather, demand for a given part, and more, to automatically optimise a price and deliver the best value for the customer and the business. Additionally, these solutions can help businesses easily build a transparent “value based” model of pricing – where products are priced according to factors such as shape and size – so that customers can clearly see how each product is priced in comparison to others. This helps minimise confusion and pricing complaints, and ultimately boosts customer satisfaction.

Furthermore, as third-party vendors such as Amazon and Alibaba ramp up their involvement in the space – and alter customer expectations surrounding delivery speed and product availability – pricing will become an even more important way to attract consumers. This means the time is now for traditional businesses to modernise their service parts pricing processes.

After-sales service is a key profit lever and competitive differentiator, and brands that embrace it – and always keep a customer focus in mind – will continue to drive revenue even during periods of market change.