The widespread lockdown during the pandemic has urged consumers to order goods online. The increased reliance on online retail has paved the way for the rise of online shopping. In Singapore, local delivery companies saw a sudden increase in door-to-door delivery services as more customers opted to shop through their phones.
The problem with online shopping is that customers don’t know exactly what they’re getting. This made the returns and exchange process more frequent because of dissatisfied customers.
If you’re running a retail business, it’s important to ensure a positive customer experience in the returns and exchange process. With that in mind, here are ways to improve retail returns management.
Ensure frequent and clear communication of the returns and exchange policy
The first step to a smoother returns process starts with having clear and frequent communication of the policy itself. Discuss how the store accepts returns, the allowed period to return an item after purchase, and the process involved when a customer has to return or exchange an item. All these details should be explained in full detail in every sales material, such as the website, packing slip, receipt, and print catalog.
Providing easy access and clear communication to the return and exchange policy is a win-win situation for your business and customers. First, a clearly communicated policy allows you to reduce the number of customer inquiries related to product returns and provides an accessible reference to point to whenever a customer returns a product. A return policy will also keep your internal operations organized because it will enable employees to communicate the policy correctly to customers.
In turn, making the policy easy to find and understand builds trust with customers as it shows how you care about their satisfaction with your products or services.
Use returns to analyze customer behavior
Returns are a great opportunity to get to know your customers better, including their expectations about your brand. When processing returns, track customers who returned your product, the type of item returned, and why the customer initiates a return.
Keeping returns records can help you spot patterns concerning product quality or servicing. If you notice the same reasoning on similar items, you may likely have a quality control issue you have to address right away.
You may invite the customer for a quick discussion about their experience with your product. Then, ask the returns staff to record their observation and examine the returned product for defects or inconsistencies.
The truth is that customers are far more concerned about returns than retailers think. A smooth returns process can significantly pay off by improving customer satisfaction and overall brand experience. Knowing what they think about your brand and how you handle returns will allow you to evaluate the cost of returns concerning time and profit and detect negative trends right away. The collected data will help you create long-term improvements to serving and understanding customers’ intentions.
Sustain customers’ attention to your brand
Rebuilding customers’ trust in your brand may seem difficult in the event of a damaged or defective item. As a business owner, you have to hold on to their trust to avoid losing your valued customers. This is why you should use product returns as an opportunity for upselling and conversion to sustain their interest in your brand.
Customers have certain expectations when making product returns, especially in terms of compensation. Some would rather get their money returned, but it’s important to look at other options to make them stick around.
If a customer is returning a faulty item, ask the staff to encourage customers to avail of gift cards, store credit, or any great product in exchange for the returned item. This will drive them to look for other interesting items in your store, so they take advantage of store credit or upsell the initial purchase.
For example, if they bought a dress online that they end up not liking, you can invite them to the physical store so that they can check out other items that fit their requirements better. Another way is to offer free return shipping for defective items or give them more than they initially paid. Sometimes, an apology isn’t enough for customers who experienced inconvenience from replacing an item. As much as possible, your goal is to draw their attention to your brand by providing them with options.
Customer returns and exchanges are inevitable in running a retail business—but they don’t have to affect your business negatively. By providing outstanding service, training staff, practicing empathy, and taking steps to minimize the causes of returns, you can significantly improve customer satisfaction while increasing your bottom line.