How make customer returns trackable

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Tad Vaas23 May 2022

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How  make customer returns trackable

Rebuild trust, show your efforts, prevent fraud and get feedback

Proactively inform and allow information access

When a customer returns a product, the way their brain works is that they start blaming the gadget manufacturer for why it failed. It could be that they are returning the product because it did not meet expectations as advertised, or it simply broke, and they are not happy because they want a refund or want the product repaired or replaced.

From the customer’s perspective, it is the manufacturer’s fault that they are returning the product. Therefore our definition for trackable returns is as follows. Introduction of transparency for an active return order by either pro-actively informing customer about their order status or allowing them to access the information clearly via an online interface.

Recreate trust and collect data. Then improve

When the customer has a problem with an electronic device and needs to return it, it tends to start eroding the trust between the product manufacturer and the customer. A trackable return process with a solid and rigid procedure can stop this trust eradication and strengthen brand loyalty which builds lifetime value of this customer.

When customer needs to return a product they feel out of control because they lost all the money paid and now don’t even have the product they bought. By letting your customers track their return process, the manufacturer allows the customer to gain a bit of that control back.

Making the returns process transparent builds trust between manufacturer and customer. It allows customers to see what is happening with the precious gadget they bought using hard-earned money. And it shows to customer manufacturer’s efforts to make it right.

When choosing a returns provider, it is essential to ensure the provider uses trackable shipping partners. Many of the current couriers provide the trackable shipping process and provide photographic evidence of the package delivery. It helps to prevent fraudulent claims against products lost during shipping.

By having an optimised and trackable returns process, the manufacturer can reach out to customers and gain statistical data on their experience during the process. For example, we regularly collect the data on how easy it was to get in touch, to return the product, was the customer happy with a timeline and what could be improved. This feedback then can be used to evaluate a third-party returns provider’s service level and improve future processes.

What do customers want to track

  1. Inbound tracking: if the customer needs to ship the product via a shipping provider, it is crucial to track it. One example would be a customer taking their product to their local post office, where they ship it using a QR code. Post-office then provides a proof-of-postage with a tracking number, which the customer, the returns centre and the manufacturer can instantly track on their website.
  2. Landing notification: when the product arrives, it is essential to let the customer know and put their mind at ease that the product arrived on-premises and the returns centre has started evaluating their order. We can do this proactively by text message or email.
  3. What was the problem: everyone is interested in what the problem was and what caused the problem to appear. Was it something the customer caused themselves or was it a manufacturing defect?
  4. How we fixed it: The customer wants to know how we repaired it and what precautions we took, or what the customer might need to do for this problem to not appear in the future. The customer wants to ensure the device will function even after warranty period expires.
  5. Quality Control outcome: the customer also wants to know how the returns centre ensured that they fixed the device. We can do it by sharing a quality control procedure or a checklist document of functionality features we checked during the post-service quality control procedure.
  6. Outbound tracking: outbound shipping trackability allows the customer to have proper expectations. We recommend letting the logistics provider liaise with the customer directly if they need to change the shipping preferences, such as date or alternative shipping address.
  7. Review request: when customer finally receives their product back, we can request them to fill in an online questionnaire about the process. It allows us to identify any weak points within the process and enables the manufacturer to have a chance to make it right once again before the customer goes on an online defamation crusade via reviews or social posts.

Conclusion

It is vital to have a straightforward and trackable returns process from end to finish. It builds customer trust and allows data to be collected, which we can then use to improve the product or the returns process.

The returns can be made trackable by ensuring the logistics partners have transparent package route tracking, selecting a returns centre with an online portal accessible by customers, and gaining feedback from customers via post-service surveys.

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