Turning Returns Into Return Customers, Not Lost Revenue
Imagine a long day of getting the kids ready for school, going to work, heading to soccer practice, and then coming home to make dinner only to remember that the clothes you ordered that didn’t fit are still sitting in your bedroom waiting to be returned. When you go online to initiate the return process, you find out the company changed its returns policy and now you’ve missed the return window by two days. You make a mental note to not shop there again. You can’t risk ordering and forgetting so you eat the cost this time and move on. Flexible return policies have become a key part of the purchasing decision process, with 86 percent of consumers reporting checking a retailer’s return strategy before buying.
Today, brands associate returns solely with lost revenue and many are shortening their return policy times in an effort to offset losses. However, what if retailers flipped this concept on its head and instead used returns as an opportunity to create loyal customers? By optimizing a people-first approach and focusing on the needs of the person behind the return, brands can create a more positive experience for the customer and a more lucrative experience for themselves in the long run.
Putting People First: Optimizing Personalized CS to Create a Loyal Customer
One of the best ways to create a better customer experience, including the dreaded return process, is through a personalized approach that focuses on human connection. In fact, in a recent survey from Narvar, 95 percent of consumers reported that they would buy from a brand again if they had a satisfactory return experience. Brands that put their customers’ needs first, create longer return windows, and invest in customer service platforms that follow the customer journey and create a positive, personalized experience will more quickly develop a base of loyal customers that keep coming back again and again. And knowing that increasing customer retention by just 5 percent can improve sales by 25 percent to 95 percent, brands can look for a long-term return on investment.
Personalized customer service begins with understanding who the consumer is. When a customer contacts the service department, and agents are equipped with personalized information like sizes, purchase history, and their kid’s favorite style of jeans, they can more holistically understand each buyer’s journey and tailor their customer service experience to their specific needs. With the proper tools such as historic and people-specific profiles shown in consolidated chat flows instead of individual problems referenced through ticket numbers, agents can then make personalized recommendations based on each customer's past purchases, reviews, and more.
A Happy Service Agent = A Happy Customer
While people-first customer service clearly benefits the customer and the brand, the benefits for service agents are often overlooked. Customer support is the backbone of a successful business and the agents are on the front lines getting to talk to and know customers. Whether they’re answering product questions or processing a return, when they’re equipped with the right information and the right platform they can solve problems, anticipate needs, and grow brand loyalty. However, when they don’t have all of the information readily available it can lead to disgruntled customers and a frustrated agent by proxy. Brands that focus on a human-first approach from top to bottom, including the service agent, will inevitably create a positive experience for all parties involved, leading to happy customers and more satisfied chat agents.
As e-commerce revenues continue to rise, it's necessary for brands to break through digital noise and stand out from the competition with what matters to consumers — flexible return policies and quality customer experiences. With the incorporation of a human-first CS platform designed to tailor the experience to each customer, brands can view returns as an opportunity to create a loyal customer. Returns can even be positive for the bottom line as they can bring customers back if it's a seamless and personalized experience.
Jason Finkelstein is chief marketing officer at Gladly, a customer service platform helping the world's most loved brands deliver loyalty through radically personal customer service.
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Jason Finkelstein is chief marketing officer at Gladly, a customer service platform helping the world's most loved brands deliver loyalty through radically personal customer service. Jason is a five-time CMO with experience at high-growth startups, private and public SaaS businesses including AdRoll, Traitify (acquired by Paradox), AVG Technologies (acquired by Avast) and Location Labs (acquired by AVG). He is also a co-founder of Numa and serves as a GTM advisor for several B2B SaaS businesses. For more details on Gladly’s offerings, visit www.glady.com.