Managing product returns can quickly become overwhelming. Simply tracking return requests and managing inventory on a daily basis requires time and patience, let alone responding to customer inquiries and identifying patterns and trends to minimize your product return rate.
Here are 5 simple ways you can stay on top of your product returns process.
Use a Product Returns Dashboard
Keeping information about product returns at a glance is the best way to monitor and spot trends. Identifying patterns of behavior, commonalities among customers, inventory management issues, and more is all more easily seen with the use of a dashboard or master snapshot of your product returns.
A few returns-related items you should be tracking are:
- # open cases
- # returns in process
- # flagged returns
- # parts requests
You can also generate reports to see monthly changes in product returns. This can help you address return requests quickly, plan for spikes in returns based on a recall or other product-related issues, and quickly assess your product return trends for forecasting and better operations management.
Integrate Shipping for Expedited Product Returns
Your customers hate waiting. They don’t want to wait for shipping of a product they need, and they certainly don’t want to wait to receive a refund on a product they no longer want. Furthermore, you don’t want to deal with delays from them forgetting to ship their processed return back to your warehouse.
Skip the costly re-shipments and frustration of missing shipments! Integrate shipping into your product returns process to make address verification and preset packaging a breeze. When you integrate product returns shipping into your process, you can even save preferences and settings to simplify the returns process even more.
Enable Customers to Serve Themselves
Customer portals are a huge timesaver for any company handling product returns on a regular basis. Not only do they allow your customers to serve themselves and keep your customer service team off the phones, but they also keep your customers happy. Just like any other self-service process (i.e. ATMs), customers can quickly manage and track their own returns for quick and easy service with fast turnaround times.
As a bonus for saving your company time and money through the use of a self-service portal, you can even offer customers free shipping on all of their product returns. This improves customer satisfaction and enables easy tracking and return lookup for your team as well. It’s a win-win.
Automate Product Returns Communications
Sending updates regarding product returns requests, status updates, and refund processing is time-consuming. Instead of paying your customer service team to manually update your customers each time a return is processed, try automation. This is especially useful for confirmation and reminder emails.
Use personalized email templates with placeholders for customer names and addresses, and define rules that will automatically determine the schedule your emails will follow. Of course, you cannot automate all of your emails, so start with the easy ones first and then branch into the more complex yet common emails you find your team sending often.
Ask Customers for Honest Feedback
While product returns are unavoidable, it’s possible to minimize your product return rate. One way to do so is by asking your customers for their honest feedback. For example, what do they like and don’t like about your products? Are you offering everything they need, or are you missing something? What products have not performed as well as you hoped, and why?
Your customers are an incredible resource. By tapping into their interests, behaviors, and preferences more closely you are able to unlock great insight to minimize your product return rate while maximizing customer satisfaction. Start with a simple, 3-question survey every quarter, and see where it takes you. You may be surprised with what you uncover.