Returns, refunds, and exchanges are all a part of ecommerce sales. No matter how hard you try things can and will happen in the normal course of online sales. The order might have arrived damaged, the wrong size was sent or ordered and maybe the customer had as change of mind. Regardless of the reasons, from time to time, even the most loyal customers will request a return or replacement of a product.
Handling these requests can definitely take up a lot of time, energy and money with hours spent on customer service emails. Additionally, there will be spikes in shipping expenses for replacement products, especially during and after major holidays. Fortunately, there are simple steps that can be taken to turn a potential bad review to a glowing recommendation of your brand on social media.
Two Steps to a Fast and Accurate Return or Exchange
In creating a return policy, you need to implement excellent customer service to start the physical process, or fulfillment, of the return or exchange. You also need a solid plan on the logistics of accepting the returned product and refunding or replacing it for your customer.
The first step is to have a strong communication plan for your customer service or team members that will handle customer comments and concerns. Customers reach out to customer service for usually because there is a problem with their order or account. Listen your customers. Explain your policy and work with them to have happy customers. Have a solid return policy in place that will be used by all team members when interacting with customers.
The next step relates to fulfillment. Once you understand the problem, you can take steps to issue a refund or replace the product. The goal is to handle returns and exchanges quickly and accurately. As you continue to expand your business, it will be practical to sign up with a third-party (3PL) provider. Here’s why: A third-party (3PL) provider has fast access to order information, delivery data and service issues. They can quickly address the problem without the customer having to repeat the entire history of the issue. Additionally, they have CRM tools that connects to phone systems and pull up client accounts based on their telephone number and can track a refund or replacement so that you can update your customer in real time. In many cases, it easier more affordable to hire a 3PL provider than doing it own your own.
In the end, customers expect the return process to be just as quick as their original order. With a clearly communicated return policy and the right fulfillment provider in place, returns and exchanges can be transformed from a potentially negative event into an opportunity that generates new sales for your ecommerce business and increases customer loyalty. A win-win for everyone.
Finally, often what led to a product return is out of your control. But with a solid communication plan in place and a reliable 3PL, you can take charge of a return and keep your customer happy and coming back.