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3 Steps to Developing a Positive Return Experience In Retail

Positive Return Experience In Retail

A 3-Step Guide to Using Customer Journeys to create a Positive Return Experience in Retail

  • Build Loyalty Through Your Returns Process

The relationships customer form with brands are built over time–the more positive encounters with a brand, the stronger the relationship becomes. When a customer initiates a return, this is an excellent opportunity to turn what could have been a relationship-serving event into a positive, loyalty-building, interaction. 

Working with a large retailer, the Medallia Institute discovered that regardless of the channel they used, customers who had a very positive returns experience made two more transactions over the following six months, and spent 16% more during that time, than customers who did not have a positive returns experience. Customers with the most satisfying returns experience also ended up returning fewer items in the same six months, and they made nearly 10% fewer returns than customers who had a poor returns experience. Although the opportunity is clear, many retailers are still looking for ways to nail this part of the customer journey. 

  • Establish A Journey Mapping Framework

The reasons behind product returns are numerous, and experiences with the return process vary just as widely. To effectively craft a positive return experience for each customer, retailers need to gather individual journey data and aggregate those data points for trends analysis. An aggregate view of journeys can reveal where pitfalls occur, and where customers frequently switch channels to accomplish their goals. It sounds daunting but it’s actually simple and puts sales associates in the shoes of the customer so they can better empathize. 

In fact, research by Forrester and several management consulting firms suggest that successful companies engage in customer journey mapping exercises, putting themselves in the shoes of the customer and identifying key “touchpoints” in the shopping journey. How do they do this? By creating a unique identifier for each customer that remains consistent across all devices and channels of engagement. This allows companies to track and understand customers in real-time as they move through various touchpoints which is critical to understanding customer sentiment and what intelligent actions should be taken to keep them happy and coming back. 

  • Aggregate Customer Journey Data to Reveal Key Trends

Medallia’s Experience Management Platform provides retailers with a comprehensive, 360-degree profile for each customer that includes: 

  • Profile data (age range, income bracket, loyalty status, etc.)
  • Touchpoint data (mapping customer identify across channels, whether the interaction is human, automated, online or offline)
  • Feedback data (including sentiment and recording of non-responses)
  • Operational data (# of visits to the store, transaction value, etc.)

Mapping and de-duping every customer identity across channels, along with capturing feedback and operational data at each touchpoint, provides retailers with a true representation of each customer’s journey. 

It is important to analyze all parts of the shopper’s journey and collecting customer experience data across all channels, retailers will be able to identify where return experiences are breaking down and test improvements aimed at reducing friction from that interaction.