Return merchandise policies play a crucial element in retaining online customers. In an ideal scenario, these policies stipulate that customers can return a product if they have issues with it. Common issues pertaining to return policies include limited time for returns, hard-to-find policies, complicated and inconsistent system, plus unclear rules for shipping, among others.
These complaints were further highlighted with the UPS-commissioned research entitled, Online Shopping Customer Experience Study. Participants, totaling 3,100, said return label policies of online businesses have plenty of room for improvement. For example, a customer would want a printable label or have a pre-printed one included in the package.
To further improve on this trade aspect, a company may review its return label policies and seek ways to simplify everything for the customers. Here are some common issues concerning return labels:
1. Ease Of Return/ Free Returns: Based on the study, the elements of a good return label policy are as follows: return label right in the box, easy-to-print return label, automatic refund, simplified procedures, ability to return to a store, and flexibility on how to ship the product. Customers are usually disappointed with the long wait for credit, shipping expenses, and restocking fees.
Some companies are wary about making return labels readily available online as it may prompt customers to send back more items. Customers, on the other hand, may get frustrated if they are not easily accessible. The return policy in itself is a tough balancing act as it must be beneficial to both the company and the customers. Other companies opt to have customers call up their respective contact centers for verification.
2. Set A Return Time: Customers prefer a longer period of return time. Call it psychological effect but a broader time period can make customers more at ease with their acquisitions. It may even boost company sales and minimize returns in the process. Return time could vary from one company to another. Zappos allows lifetime returns and, consequentially, is one of the best received businesses in regards to customer service, retention and loyalty. That equates to more consistent revenue from return customers over time.
3. Avoid Jargon: Provide the customer a simple step-by-step process on return labels. The process must include time period for returns and policies for refund and /or exchange. Some customers may not fully grasp the legal terms involved in return label policies. Upon purchase, a company employee may explain the return policy to the customer and have it acknowledged by signing the receipt.
4. Seek Consumer Feedback. Learn from customers on how they find the company’s return policies. Seek for comments regarding the system and their experience with it. Ask if they would purchase again and why, and if they would endorse it to other consumers. Review their statements and find ways on how to further improve on the process.
Establishing a clear and effective returns policy may take some time to pin down, but it can definitely lead to more recommendations from online consumers and may boost customer loyalty. If you don’t have one yet, now’s the time to make one.