Why a Customer Retention Plan is Vital to Reduce Returns

jodi-gaines-pereiraJodi Gaines Pereira is the co-founder of ReplyManager, a web-based tool designed to help online sellers manage their incoming customer communications. In 2015, ReplyManager was sold to XSellco Limited, a leading provider of software solutions for online sellers, including High5, a Feedback Automation tool. She continues to assist XSellco with business development and customer experience strategies.

Jodi is also a founding partner of iguanafarmGroup, a web development and marketing agency. As a thought leader and speaker on customer service, online reputation and digital marketing, she is a frequent contributor to online publications, a sought-after webinar host and aspiring musician.

Today Jodi writes about customer retention:

Why a Customer Retention Plan is Vital to Reduce Returns

We Love Our CustomersCustomer retention is a vital part of the return process, especially post-holiday rush.

According to CNBC, the amount of returns directly correlates with the growth of e-commerce sales during the holidays (which hit record numbers this year thanks to Amazon). The National Retail Federation estimates that annual returns will reach $260 billion for 2015. 600 million packages were delivered between Thanksgiving and Christmas in the US alone, according to FedEx, and about 10% of those are expected to be returned in January.

Holiday returns are a big deal for online sellers.

Like many online shoppers in 2015, I did most of my holiday shopping on Amazon. But out of the 20 holiday purchases I made, only one seller sent a follow-up email. Just one! I couldn’t help but think that sellers were missing out on a big opportunity to connect with customers in a positive way and perhaps reduce their return burden by implementing a simple customer retention plan with follow-up emails.

Why customer retention is so important

Get Ahead of Returns

Returns happen for all kinds of reasons from size to color to buyers just not getting what they wanted or expected. Maybe they don’t know how to use a product or don’t realize it’s available in other colors or sizes. Sending an automated email follow-up with helpful tips, color or size options and clear instructions to promote an easy exchange could greatly reduce returns.

Avoid Marketplace Penalties

Sending a series of email follow-ups can also help avoid open cases or complaints that go directly through the marketplace. If a package didn’t arrive, or you sent the wrong color, that automated email follow-up can help avoid any claims, especially if you correct the issue right away.

Good Opportunity for Feedback

Marketplace feedback is important for online sellers, just like a good review on Yelp! or Google. In addition to many other benefits (SEO, marketplace standings, etc.), it can have a very positive impact on buyer confidence. So when you’re sending automated follow-up emails, throw in a quick line about providing feedback or wait to ask in a second email. The point is to ask. Most buyers don’t realize they can provide seller feedback and don’t know where to give it. If you ask and make it easy with a link, you’ll begin to see an increase in the amount of feedback you receive.