Now more than ever, it’s vital to deliver the very best in customer service — to each and every one of your customers.
Of course, ensuring a superior e-commerce experience for your customers doesn’t just entail making sure everything goes right up to and including their online purchase. It also involves a smooth, satisfactory and meaningful post-purchase experience.
Just how much does a strong, satisfactory post-purchase experience matter, really? After all, as long as you’ve ensured a smooth omni-channel experience and closed a successful sale…you’ve done your job as a marketer and e-commerce solutions provider, right?
Well, it turns out that making sure good things continue to happen to and for your customers after the online transaction has closed is also vitally important — especially in today’s environment of online review sites, social media and fickle, option-rich, hyper-informed consumers. And remember, a happy customer often also becomes a…loyal customer. And that means additional business and income for you — not just from them, but via their referral and social networks, too.
Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
First and foremost when it comes to ensuring a successful and satisfactory post-purchase experience? Making sure your customers enjoy a positive return experience.
You might say that positive return experiences lead to returning customers and sales. And that all adds up to…many happy returns.
But what makes for a positive return experience, exactly? How do you define such a thing in real-world, smart business terms?
You might say it starts with a lot of things in today’s world: Speed and ease. The faster, the better. The easier, the better. Get it wrong, take too long, and you’re quite likely to lose your customer – and their long-term loyalty, which you can’t really put a price on.
Think about it. The post-purchase experience might very well be the last experience your customer ever has with your brand.The difference between satisfaction or the lack of it might also be the difference between staying and leaving. How do you want to be remembered?
After your customer finishes a transaction, they’ll likely see a “thank you” page — and feel appreciative and thankful for your mutual transaction. At this point, your relationship is fine. But what do you do to…keep those good vibes going and flowing?
One way to accomplish this is to allow them the ability to use “social sharing” to post about their purchase. If you’re lucky, they may even add a nice message about their experience purchasing from you. At the end of the day, we’re all social animals — which means that we’re looking for validation from peers (and more often than we want to admit, looking to show off). If you want to promote social sharing even more, you can add incentives, such as a discount on their next transaction. This is where a strong referral or loyalty program can especially come into play. You might also benefit from asking them to download your app, and/or read your blog.
Of course, this experience goes both ways. If you really want to build solid relationships and improve post-purchase experiences, ask your customers to provide feedback on their online experience with you.
You can get feedback by asking your customers to fill out online or e-mail surveys and submit product reviews or testimonials. You’ll also allow your customers to help you build more social proof for your product, brand or services. You definitely want to time these communications right, of course. If you send them a feedback email, make sure it arrives after your customer has received their order and had time to get familiar with it — or to decide to return it, if they don’t like it.
Of course, it also helps to avoid (or more realistically, slow or limit) returns in the first place. Especially returns that are motivated by customer dissatisfaction or lack of loyalty toward your brand. You might be surprised just how often this serves as a driving factor for returns and chargebacks, too.
According to research from the National Retail Federation and data firm Appriss, retailers annually lose around $18 billion to what’s classified as “return fraud”. That jaw-dropping number doesn’t even begin to account for the devastating loss and cost that occurs if your company loses its merchant processing account. With the ever-increasing shift toward e-commerce purchasing, return fraud becomes more and more of a concern.
Return fraud can be broken down into two categories: “return abuse/fraud” and “consumer abuse.” Return abuse or fraud is defined as any scenario where a customer ships a package back to the retailer and receives his or her money back — while not “operating in good faith.” This behavior could include purchasing an item with no intent of keeping it (essentially “renting” it), intentionally sending the wrong item back or “wardrobing” — i.e. purchasing several versions of the same item with the expectation of keeping just one. The latter is particularly common with pieces of clothing and attire.
Consumer abuse occurs when customers purchase an item and then file a chargeback with their credit card company — rather than returning the item. Sometimes consumers file bogus chargebacks because they find the e-tailer’s return process too complicated or confusing (which brings us back to our original point about the true value of improving your post-purchase experience). On other occasions, they file illegitimate chargebacks because they’re upset with the length of time it took their order to arrive. In either case, you can bet they don’t feel an ounce of loyalty or attachment to the company or e-tailer they’re purchasing from.
A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers also revealed that many of them are “ambivalent” about the majority of retailers they purchase from. Close to 15% of these consumers even admitted they’ve knowingly filed a chargeback that wasn’t fully justified nor honest.
Other insights and data gleaned from this study include the revelation that 5.2% of returns are consumers intentionally purchasing more items than they intended to keep; 4.1% are cases of “buyer’s remorse”; 2.8% are consumers who wanted to “use the item once or a few times and then return it”; and 12% of “abusive consumers” felt the company was successful enough to absorb the cost of the transaction.
It’s pretty clear that you want to do everything in your power to avoid becoming part of statistics such as these. If you’re serious or curious about improving your post-purchase experience and increasing the lifetime value of your customers – while also decreasing your team’s workload and stress level – drop us a line here at Relay. If you want to learn more about the Relay tool suite first, you can schedule a free demo right now.
We hope to hear from and work with you soon!