7 Ways to Improve Customer Service in Spite of Product Returns

7 Ways to Improve Customer Service in Spite of Product Returns

Nearly every company seeks to improve customer service despite inevitable product returns or common customer complaints. In fact, that tends to be when we care the most. How does your company measure against the competition? Do your customers’ opinions of your company or brand change once they need to return a product? How easy is it for them to take the necessary actions to return your products?

Here are 7 ways to improve customer service in spite of product returns.

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3 Brilliant Ways to Solve Your Reverse Logistics Issues

3 Brilliant Ways to Solve Your Reverse Logistics Issues

According to the National Retail Federation, more than $60 billion of merchandise is returned each year. This number, while already staggering, continues to rise each year. As more customers migrate to online shopping, we are faced with a higher likelihood of returns.

This is a challenge. Regardless of the time of year, we are constantly trying to combat customer returns. We do not want to deal with inventory management, repackaging, or remanufacturing. Why would we?

The returns process is often a headache, and therefore something we fail to face head-on. But we can no longer afford to sweep it under a rug. We have a problem, and it’s got to do with reverse logistics!

Here are 3 brilliant ways to solve reverse logistics issues to minimize losses and maximize customer satisfaction.

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5 Ways to Stay On Top Of Your Product Returns

5 Ways to Stay On Top Of Your Product Returns

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.

3 Creative Ways to Reduce Your Product Return Rate

3 Creative Ways to Reduce Your Product Return Rate

Nothing is certain in the world of product sales aside from taxes (in most cases) and returns. As you start to sell more, your rate of product returns will increase accordingly.

Some analysts estimate that nearly one third of all online purchases are returned, a statistic that is even higher for brick and mortar locations.

What does this mean for your business?

Product returns erode profit margins. It doesn’t matter if you are offering free returns or not, any time a customer returns something it will negatively impact your bottom line. While it may be true that you can turn these potentially negative experiences into positive sales opportunities, your ultimate goal should always be to stop the bleeding from the source. This means reducing your product return rate.

Here are 3 creative ways you can reduce your product return rate starting today.

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The top 3 reasons to upgrade your customer service software.

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Is your customer service software really good enough for your company? Sure, it’s better than email alone, but does it actually give you a competitive advantage? The reality is, fixing customers’ defective products is arguably the most important part of customer service. But most leading CRM solutions don’t address it at all. In fact, most companies don’t have an effective way for their customer service personnel to interact with receiving, repair and shipping departments to resolve warranty service issues.

You may be responding to customers’ requests quickly. You may have lots of great people on your customer service team. But that won’t amount to a hill of beans if your customers can’t get their products replaced quickly when they fail. No matter how nice and helpful you are, people won’t buy from you again if you don’t step up and shine when they really need you. On the other hand, if you can excel in solving their problems quickly, customer loyalty will grow and they’ll be actually be more likely to buy from you again. It’s clear that the right RMA software is key.

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Features for better service.

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Any company that sells physical products faces many challenges. The most important phase of the entire product life cycle is after-sales service. This is where your company’s reputation is made or broken. Product failures and other issues that require services to be performed will always be a reality. But it’s how you handle these problems that will define you as a company. The key is to provide a painless, well-organized and transparent returns process where the customer is notified promptly with each status update. You also need to evaluate why your products are coming back with testing and reporting.

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Fix cable & accessory problems.

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How many times have you purchased a product, only to have one of its cables break soon-after, making the product itself virtually useless? It’s infuriating: A product that requires a charger isn’t worth much without the charger cable. Products that connect via USB are worthless if the USB cable is broken. And this is the worst: Have you ever had a great pair of headphones that you really liked, and then one day the cable went kaput? I’ve had more than enough frustration with broken cables in my personal life; but it’s my experience in this area in my professional life that I’d like to tell you about here.

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5 Most Powerful Customer Service Tools for 2016

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Customer service is becoming more top of mind for companies today. In fact, Zendesk recently reported that 40% of companies lose business to competitors due to poor customer service. In order to provide the best customer experience possible, companies have invested in more tools and software that facilitate positive brand interactions and empower customers. Some of these tools focus on customer relationship management or a full customer experience (like SupportSync), while others are more centered on specific functionalities such as live chat or social media communities. Here are 5 tools that can totally transform your customer service operation for little to no investment:

Customer Portal

A customer portal is perfect for more self-sufficient customers because it gives them full control over their customer experience. Customers can log into the system to check the status of their order, view order history, search FAQ’s, request a refund/exchange, and more. It is a great investment because it reduces call volumes, helps customers quickly, and keeps your company organized.

Automated Emails While this is more of a tactic than a tool in dealing with customers, automated emails are a very powerful addition to customer service efforts. When your customers are informed, they’re happy. Simple emails that include order confirmations and tracking information make a big impact on customer satisfaction. Additionally, emails with subtle upsell suggestions and links to highly requested information can save time and increase profits. The key takeaway here is the more automation, the better!

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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.