The holiday season can create a massive sales bump for ecommerce retailers, but come January, they can expect a wave of returns and exchanges. Brands need to prepare for this busy season by implementing a returns experience that meets customer expectations and ensures shoppers can move efficiently through the process.
While no company looks forward to a high volume of returns, reports show that 77% of customers who return a purchase are likely to make purchases in the future if the return experience was positive. In other words, the less frustrating you make the customer returns experience, the better. Let’s break down what makes a returns experience successful and how technology can improve it to show shoppers the level of commitment you’re willing to put into making them happy.
How Do You Handle Customer Returns?
An online returns experience should be accessible to shoppers across channels with minimal frustration, with live support agents reachable whenever necessary.
Yet, between contacting stores and dropping products off at the post office, numerous hurdles can challenge customers to the point where they become overwhelmed. The more annoying they find returns and exchanges to be, the more customers believe the brand isn’t worth their time. To fight that, ecommerce retailers should focus on these four key steps to building a returns experience that decreases customer distress and boosts their brand’s long-term consideration with shoppers.
1. Make returns easy to initiate
Customers coming to your site for the first time to return a gift want to reach a solution as fast as possible. Since they aren’t familiar with your brand, these shoppers will need a clear indication of how to start their journey toward completing their return.
In practice, this could include a time-specific overlay on your webpage that welcomes new customers and offers direct links to returns or exchanges. You can also clearly label menu options or program your chatbot to pop up as soon as the shopper arrives to expeditiously kick off the process.
2. Provide clear communication throughout the experience
Once a shopper has initiated the return and refund experience, they will have to take a few more steps before the return is officially accepted and a refund or exchange is granted. At that time, shoppers may have questions about the process and require reassurance, or they could even want to know more about the other products you offer.
Be ready to answer returns-related FAQs and provide live support assistance whenever necessary, so shoppers don’t feel any break in communication during the process.
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3. Create a consistent experience across channels
The returns experience should maintain consistency, even when resolving unique customer requests. Make sure no channel gets left behind in delivering this level of quality across chat, phone, or SMS.
Take for example clothing retailer PacSun, which was using a ticketed system that failed to work in tandem across channels and frustrated customers who had to repeat themselves. With Gladly, PacSun was able to refurbish their experience so it’s conversation-driven, meaning all aspects of a conversation can be referenced by agents at any time to help complete user requests. As a result, it became far easier to manage and track returns, and confirm reimbursement in a snap, thereby providing a smooth experience for the shopper.
4. Offer alternative recommendations by upselling or cross-selling
In building a successful returns experience, your main goal should be to set the foundation for future sales and loyalty with each customer. But if you play your cards right, you can upsell or cross-sell products during certain situations when a shopper might be open to making a different purchase or exchange versus a full-on return.
In doing so, you’ll still complete a successful sale and demonstrate a personal interest in the shopper, showing them your brand is worth shopping from again.
5. Use intelligent routing to connect customers with the ideal agent
Some of your agents may be better prepared to process returns and refunds, or others may have previously assisted the customer requesting one. In those instances, People Match from Gladly is the perfect asset. This tool automatically links shoppers to the agent best equipped to help them, routing calls based on the shopper’s history, situation, customer information, or other pertinent details.
Through Gladly’s People Match, brands can efficiently expedite the return experience to make it as smooth as possible for customers. For potential shoppers, a reputation for no-fuss returns indicates why people shop with you and encourages them to check out your brand on their own.
Gladly and Your Returns Experience
A finely tuned support center is the key ingredient to making your returns experience really shine. With Gladly, brands can provide accessible and effective customer experiences that not only drive loyalty but also achieve consistency across channels.
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