We all know that a positive customer experience (CX) is crucial for gaining loyalty, maximizing profits, and growing visibility. From the first interaction between a customer and your business to the moment a transaction is made and final goods are exchanged, convenience, efficiency and a seamless experience are essential. What retailers are beginning to realize, though, is that the customer experience also extends to the returns phase.
While returns can be a costly and laborious process for retailers, they’re much more than just a blight on the business. When returns are done correctly, they can be used as an opportunity to showcase customer service, gain long-term loyalty, and provide valuable insights into consumer behavior. In fact, studies show that shoppers are likely to become repeat customers if the returns process is convenient, timely and streamlined.
Let’s think about it this way: the e-commerce market is booming. The 4th Quarter 2021 Retail E-Commerce Sales Report from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that e-commerce sales in 2021 exceeded $870 billion, a 50 percent increase from 2019. This growth trajectory shows no sign of slowing down, as consumers get accustomed to the ease of shopping online.
We’re noticing that many shoppers make multiple purchases of the same thing — take shoes in various sizes, for example — so they can keep what they want and return the rest. Because of this, returns are becoming a vital part of the online shopping process. In fact, many consumers thoroughly vet a company’s return policy before making a purchase.
According to SOTI’s State of Mobility in Retail 2021 Report, 63 percent of consumers say that if they aren’t satisfied with returns processes, they’re more likely to switch brands or leave negative reviews that can sway future shoppers.
So how can retailers ensure a positive CX during the returns process?
Implementing a Returns Management System
First, the returns policy and its process need to be clearly laid out for customers from the beginning — before a purchase is even made — and it needs to be simple. Additionally, and from an operations standpoint, customer service representatives need to be familiar with the policy to ensure it’s followed correctly.
Secondly, manual returns processes can be complicated and leave room for errors that lead to frustrated customers. A digital, end-to-end returns management system (RMS) offers an easy-to-use, practical and effective tool to amplify CX and maximize productivity.
A RMS is essentially a cloud-based SaaS solution that manages the entire returns process based on the needs of a particular business and fully integrates with other solutions to provide valuable insights into consumer returns behavior and trends. These analytics allow companies to stay ahead of potential issues and regularly upgrade operations based on consumer feedback.
When implementing a RMS, look for user-friendly software that includes automated communication capabilities that keep consumers informed throughout the entire process. A customer should be able to initiate, track and manage their return from start to finish without making repeated calls to the customer service department.
Customer satisfaction is the cornerstone to any and all businesses — if dented and scratched, a cascade of additional problems inevitably follow. In the modern e-commerce marketplace, an efficient returns system is central to keeping customers happy and a vital component for continued success.