returns management

Benefit from another customer interaction

Benefit from another customer interaction

Many branded and retail companies are working their way through the year end peak. Sales, especially on-line, is breaking records again. The customer journey that stretches from “orientation”, via “purchase” to “delivery” offers many opportunities for customer interaction and customer engagement. Companies are offering an increasingly great buying experience to their customers.

For many of these companies the early days of 2015 will offer another opportunity for customer interaction and engagement. The moment that the customer decides to return a product.

Returns are not just a burden but also an interaction and engagement opportunity.

For sure the peak in commercial returns following the sales season is an operational and financial burden that just needs to be dealt with. Assuming that many companies have implemented a robust returns process will likely deal with that burden. If not there is an opportunity for 2015 to prepare for next years return peak. Let’s not talk about the return burden for now. Let’s talk about the returns opportunity.

Returns are part of the Customer Journey too.

The buying experience is part of the customer journey and so is the service experience. The second part of the customer journey stretches from “start of use”, via “at use” to “end of use”. Knowing that each of these phases might involve a return (commercial returns, service returns and end-of-life returns) brings a great but unlocked opportunity: The second part of the customer journey offers 3 opportunities for customer interaction and engagement.

How can you benefit from these opportunities?

Here are 3 simple examples how customer service can benefit from customer interaction during the returns process:

Commercial returns:
With commercial returns it is all about maximising conversion upfront and preserving the customer sale afterwards. Knowing that the customer can simply return without reason increases the risk of losing the customer at all. Customer interaction should be focused on 3 things: giving confidence that returns, if any, are hassle free, understanding why will be returned to potentially avoid future returns and offering options for exchange and other purchase. A transparent and consequent message to the customer is key to maintain the customer relation.

Service returns:
With service returns (warranty, repair) it all comes down to enabling your customer to continue using the product. Especially since products often are the enabler of another service-oriented earning model. Customer interaction in this case is all about giving confidence to the customer that the product incident will just be dealt with in a good manner. A service call is a great opportunity to strengthen the customer relation by offering world-class service. Serving your customer, who is in the need for help, makes friends forever.

End-of-Life returns:
Despite the fact that end-of-life take back is often considered an obligation it also is a great opportunity to engage with a customer who is about to stop using your product. In a competitive on-line landscape this risk is quite large. Customer interaction should be focused on offering an easy returns process to contribute to a sustainable way of disposing a product. At the same time this interaction can be used to motivate (read reward) the customer to buy with you again.

Make a paradigm shift in 2015.

Nobody likes returns and it’s easy to consider returns a burden which are not worth paying attention to. But why not use 2015 to realise a paradigm shift with your company and turn the returns management process into an opportunity for customer interaction and engagement. For sure that will pay off.

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