Getting returns right to drive better experiences and increase lifetime value
With the record-breaking peak period we have just experienced, as night follows day, a huge influx of returns are now arriving at warehouses around the world. Getting your returns policy and processes in order is crucial to provide a great customer service experience that builds long-term loyalty, trust and deliver on your brand promise.
A simple and easy returns process for the customer creates positive association with your brand that drives paves the path to purchase and increases lifetime value. Automating and integrating the returns process across channels also saves you costly manual processes that can consume your customer service team’s time and ultimately erode your profits.
A flexible, simple and clear returns policy and process fuels consumer confidence that leads to greater conversion
According to Tryzens consumer research in 2019, returns policy ranked 3rd in Australia and 4th the UK when shoppers were asked what was important about making online purchasing decisions. They want the security and certainty that they will be able to return items quickly and easily should they need to and if they find the process unattractive or confusing, they will simply abandon cart if they are on the fence.
Having a simple and flexible returns policy that is linked across all channels will ultimately pave the path to purchase and can be leveraged as CTAs across your site to put the shoppers mind at ease while they browse.
Benefits of an omni-channel customer experience – returns and exchanges
As we covered in our previous piece, customers now expect to be able to move seamlessly between physical and digital channels throughout the whole shopping experience, from browsing and purchasing to returns and exchanges. When it comes to returns, they expect to have their choice of convenient options, whether it be via post, courier service or returning items themselves to a brick-and-mortar store and in addition, 93% of Australian and 94% of UK shoppers expect this to be free.
Furthermore, they want full transparency and visibility of these options, available on all channels, so they can choose what’s best for them. Providing customers with a unified experience that easily displays and explains multiple returns options empowers the customer to feel in control. A customer that feels in control is a customer that feels much more satisfied with their experience, creating more lifetime value.
In addition to customer satisfaction, integrating the returns process across channels has a positive impact on internal processes and the bottom line. Manual disparate processes between online and in-store returns result in a huge labour cost and the potential for human error. When inventory purchased online is returned to a store ill–equipped to process it, store staff time is consumed, while customers become annoyed with waiting while it is processed.
Managing inventory in a single order management platform reduces the manual effort involved and most importantly, team members can deal with returns and find stock faster with a more accurate view of inventory.
Make it easy & streamline the process
Having to jump through hoops or do extra work such as printing return labels and queue at the post office or logging into a site to fill out long–winded forms will quickly see customers turned off and not wanting to purchase from you in the future.
Automatically providing return information and options via email, SMS or in–app goes a long way to make the returns process quick and convenient for the customer. For example, Zappos, an Amazon luxury shoe brand, has had great success in customer retention and future spending by automatically providing refunds when the returns process kicks off as the packages are scanned.
Let customers know what is happening, as it happens
As part of an easy and painless returns process, customers expect clear and concise communication; just as they want to be able to check their status across channels for deliveries, they expect the same for returns. After all, returns involve some form of monetary credit or refund to your customer which is naturally of great interest to them. Providing them with this visibility through automated updates has the added befit of reducing inbound enquiries to customer service, so they can reach more customers, quicker.
Leverage data to create better products & services
Harnessing returns data is a huge opportunity for growth and learning within the business as understanding the reasons for returns allows for those issues to be rectified, resulting in fewer returns and higher profits. By capturing customer data at every step, including returns, you can build a better customer picture, allowing your team to better serve customers while offering the best brand and product experience.
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