How Product Returns Can Be the Difference between Profit & Loss

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According to Gartner, product returns are on the rise, and the costs are often hidden making it difficult to address their true financial impact. You have to not only refund the customer but also pay to repack, restock, and resell the returned product(s). There is an upside to product returns that are managed correctly, however; customers who have a positive returns experience often make repeat purchases, and they are more likely to refer that retailer. That is why it is so important to identify return patterns, learn how to convert returns to future sales, and turn every RMA into a sales opportunity.

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Automate Customer Service in Non-Robotic Ways

Automate Customer Service

Automation can be a scary term for customer service representatives. It sounds very robotic and cold, which is the opposite of customer service, a more warm and friendly term. The question is, can these two opposites really attract? Is automated customer service a myth or the future of customer service? If these two concepts are combined effectively, can they work for your organization? Is customer service able to be automated in non-robotic ways? The answer is complicated. On one hand, it is easy to automate customer service incorrectly. Companies try and fail at this every single day. On the other hand, leading companies across the nation are utilizing automation to their benefit, taking automation at face value – as a tool that can make your customer service teams more efficient without losing the nurturing, personalized service that makes your brand stand out from the competition. Here are some ways to automate customer service without coming across as robotic:

Automate reports for quick, personalized outreach: Automation doesn’t have to solely affect the customer-facing aspects of your customer service organization. Sometimes, it is best to use automation behind the scenes to help you operate more efficiently, becoming more proactive than reactive. One way to accomplish this is by automating reports. When you can quickly pull customer history to identify customers who may need special attention based on their purchase and return history or total number of support cases in a given period, you are more likely to keep them as a customer and transform a potentially negative service into a positive one.

Develop dynamic email templates: Automated emails are one of the scariest customer service automation combinations, but they do not have to be. In fact, creating customizable email templates to move customers through sales or service funnels is a tool that companies use every day, and when done correctly it is a great automation tactic. Not only are these great for lead nurturing but also for keeping customers informed. If, for example, your customer makes a return and wants to know when it was received, or when a replacement or refund is issued, you don’t even have to think about it. The good thing is, your customers will feel like you did take the time to think about them and appreciate the effort.

Flag customer concerns: One major component of great customer service is addressing customer issues quickly and effectively to keep them happy and loyal to your brand. Flagging customer concerns by defining specific customer groups and assigning actions and alerts to those groups is one of the fastest ways to address customer issues and take action almost instantly. Your flags and alerts are internally automated, but your customer outreach doesn’t have to be, so you get the best of both worlds. You also have the option to set-up dynamic email templates, as previously mentioned, to save time writing the base of your email for even faster response times. That’s the beauty of automated customer service – it’s flexible to fit your needs.

Deliver a customized self-service experience: Giving your customers some control over their service experience is a good thing. The only drawback to using a customer portal is overlooking the customer experience. Simply think about their journey, adding in personalized touches and easy-to-follow instructions throughout the experience to make it as pleasant as possible. Don’t make them search for answers and keep their end of the transaction as simple and straightforward as possible. Allowing them to submit a service request or check the status of a return or service case, for example, takes a huge burden off of your support staff and keeps customers happy and informed without making them feel like they are doing too much work. Striking this type of balance with self-service tools is going to be the key to their success. Automated customer support doesn’t have to be robotic to save you time and money. In fact, when done properly, it can help your company generate efficiencies within your customer service organization and even improve customer satisfaction rates. Both customer service and automation are about customer engagement and happiness, so why not try combining the two for maximum impact? The question is no longer if you should combine these two concepts but rather how you can do so better than your competition to stay ahead of the curve and improve your customer experience long-term. Want to improve your company’s customer service even more?

Check out these 5 power customer service tools for 2016.

9 Secrets of Great Customer Self-Service

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The product support lifecycle is often long and laborious, but with the right self-service tools it can be cost-effective and simple for you and your customers. According to recent research from Forrester, self-service has become the most widely used communication channel for customer service. New and innovative technologies now allow product support to be more personalized and proactive, with self-support solutions that make customer service easier and more effective.

Learn how to reduce customer effort and improve brand loyalty with these 9 secrets to great customer self-service.

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How Important Is Customer Service for My Business?

Importance of Customer Service

Good customer service drives repeat business, which is the key to company growth. Bad customer service carries much more significance. Companies with a bad customer service reputation portray an image of poor quality, carelessness, and disregard for their customers. Not only is this harmful when it comes to attracting new customers, but it also negatively impacts customer retention (which we all know is worth its weight in gold). Bain & Company recently reported that a 10% increase in customer retention levels can result in a 30% increase in the value of the company. Furthermore, the cost of acquiring new customers is much higher than the cost of retaining or upselling customers you have already converted. If that does not drive you to keep your customers happy, what will?

Happy Customers Are the Best Form of Advertising

The happier your customers are, the more influential they become to prospective customers. Satisfied customers are often your best advertisers, which is why influencer marketing is gaining such incredible momentum. Your customers are likely similar to their network in terms of demographics and interests, which means their recommendations for products carry a significant amount of weight. A 2015 survey conducted by Experticity revealed that “the majority of consumers ranked family or friends (81 percent), online reviews (76 percent) and third-party experts (70 percent) as their trusted sources when making a buying decision.” This statistic alone signifies the very importance of customer service to a business. –Check out this customer service infographic from Zendesk for more interesting stats.– After a certain amount of time collecting happy customers and social proof, your company may not need to spend much on advertising. You may even find that your brand credibility and satisfaction rates dramatically increase simultaneously. Isn’t that the dream for all companies?

Positive Customer Experiences Are a Competitive Advantage

Following customer happiness, your competition should be your next largest priority and customer service plays a major role in one company’s success over another’s. In fact, Gartner predicts that “by 2017, 89% of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator.” That is HUGE. Identifying strong differentiators is a cornerstone of brand building, and making sure your customer service is up to snuff is an easy way to get ahead of the competition. This is not just about the sales process, either. Product returns are a large part of the customer experience, accounting for 8% of all sales, or $260 billion dollars annually in 2015, according to the National Retail Federation.

How Can You Improve Your Customer Service?

Great customer experience starts from inside your company. If you want to up your customer service game, try empowering your employees with the tools they need to make returns simple for them and your customers. According to Gartner, good companies have “the right people, organizational and technology strategies to motivate their customer service employees to perform at their highest level.” This could mean investing in self-service tools or providing automation when possible to simplify your product service operations. Whatever your needs may be, SupportSync is here to help. We offer uncomplicated, customer-centric customer service tools along with a robust returns management system to help your business thrive.

Don’t just take our word for it – hear what our customers are saying or try it free today.

Considering a customer portal? Here’s what to look for.

Customer Portal

Customer service has come a long way since the days where it was seen as a “necessary evil” and only grudgingly given any resources, let alone enough to satisfy customer demand. Today, we all want to distinguish our companies with the level of service we provide, instead of just the products we sell. But this can be a challenge, as there are many aspects of customer service to get right. The most important thing of course is to answer your customer requests quickly. Whether that’s picking up the phone or answering emails, customers today expect a fast answer. Gone are the days when they’ll be satisfied waiting 24 hours or more. Next, you must support your products effectively. This aspect of customer service may involve the following, depending on what kind of products you sell:

  • Shipping replacement parts and accessories to replace those that are missing, defective or damaged.
  • Shipping and tracking evaluation units to customers for beta testing and product development purposes.
  • Receiving customers’ products that have failed for the purpose of fixing or replacing them with new or refurbished ones.
  • Receiving customers’ products returned for credit or refund.

With all of these aspects of customer service in play, the best approach is to have a single place where customers can go to create and track any type of service request. For this purpose, the customer portal – a customer facing support site that customers can login to contact you – is the preferred solution. However, the customer portal you choose must have several key features to ensure a smooth and efficient service operation that your customers will love.

Continue reading Considering a customer portal? Here’s what to look for.

5 Benefits of Streamlined Product Service Operations

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Streamlining product service operations not only preserves company resources but also helps to increase profits and strengthens customer relationships. Competing effectively with other retailers or e-commerce companies requires high levels of operational efficiency and flexibility. It may take deep analysis of your corporate landscape and investments in various software and tools, but streamlining product service operations will benefit your company in a number of ways, including:

Lower Operating Costs: Automating various processes throughout the product lifecycle can exponentially lower operating costs. By purchasing automation software to optimize operational efficiency, your employees will be able to focus more on high-level operations management and process improvement. Certain post-sales solutions may also improve inventory management and data accuracy. It also creates an opportunity to impress your customers, build brand loyalty, and run your operations more smoothly so you can invest more in growing and improving your business – and your bottom line.

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What is Product Support Software?

Product Support Software is designed for companies that require a single application that their entire team can use to handle ALL aspects of after-sales support, including customer service, RMA management, parts & accessory requests, shipping, product testing, reporting and more. Product Support Software goes well beyond the functionality of CRM or so called “Customer Service Software” and is the best choice for companies that are focused on product support issues.

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10 Best Practices for Returns Management

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Returns – such a dreaded term. Companies don’t like them, customers don’t want to have to deal with them, yet it is an inevitable part of doing business. With booming e-commerce sales, returns are getting even more frequent. By implementing best practices for returns management, you can get ahead of the curve and stay there by offering the best possible returns experience to your customers, running your internal operations more smoothly, and maybe even increasing profits.

Establish clear return policies

Return policies don’t have to be complex. The simpler it is for customers to return something, the more likely it is that they will shop with you again. Convoluted policies, or even just policies that are hard to find or understand, work against you. Making your return policies clear and concise will also help you sell. If customers know that returning an item is easy and straightforward, they’re more likely to make a purchase.

Simplify the returns process

It should not take a rocket scientist to figure out how to return an item, so keep it simple! There is a reason why “hassle free returns” have made a comeback in recent years. Happy customers = loyal customers. If someone has a bad experience returning something, it’s bad press for your business. That will translate into fewer sales and less repeat customers, and it costs much less to sell to an existing customer than to acquire a new one.

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Why Offering Free Return Shipping Is a Good Idea

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All the major e-tailers are doing it! Why, you may ask? It’s basic psychology. Free returns make an online transaction completely risk-free to the customer. They can buy something, determine if they like or do not like it, and send it back without a second thought if needed. It’s a competitive play, and it has even allowed slightly higher priced items to remain higher priced while maintaining sales and high customer satisfaction rates simply for the offer of free return shipping. A recent survey from Deloitte found that 55% of customers are influenced by easy returns and 72% find free shipping important when making a purchasing decision. Some companies have even found that making their “Free Returns” policy more visible to consumers has increased their profits by over 350%. This should not come as too much of a shock, all things considered. Take the customer perspective into consideration for a moment. To the average consumer, free return shipping means:

Peace of Mind

Return shipping costs can be a huge sales deterrent. In some cases, they can be 50% of the cost of an item or more – that’s a huge incentive to drive to the nearest store to get what you need instead of placing an online order. By offering free return shipping, you’re giving customers peace of mind which is what increases conversion rates and drives brand loyalty.

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Why should I pay for shipping?

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Have you ever needed to return a defective product, only to find out that YOU were expected to pay for return shipping? I have. And I was NOT happy. If a product fails, it should be the company’s responsibility to get me a replacement FAST. If the failure is their fault, why should I, the customer, be expected to spend my hard-earned money to pay to return the product?

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