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Post-Purchase Complaints: End of Days or Golden Opportunities?

Aug 18, 2020

Anyone in the ecommerce game understands just how many moving parts are involved in shipping a product from a warehouse to the customer’s doorstep. From vendors, to product inventory, to fulfillment, retailers have the unique challenge of aligning all aspects of their supply chain management to produce a simple, seamless shopping experience for their customers.

However, if you’ve ever shopped online, you probably know one thing to be true: Mistakes are made. Deliveries are late, products are damaged, communication is zilch, goods are swiped off porches, and customers become frustrated.

Even if retailers aren’t necessarily responsible for every step of the shipping and delivery process, their customers see things differently. If something goes awry in the delivery—delays, damage, dogs, whatever else—94% of customers blame the retailer, and 98% expect to be able to work with the retailer toward a solution. And if there’s no resolution? One negative experience is enough for 84% of customers to abandon a company for good.

As spooky as that stat might seem, there’s no reason to be intimidated. Depending on how you look at it, mistakes that crop up in the post-purchase experience can end up one of two ways:

  1. Customer claims can ruin your reputation, customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, your business.
  2. Claims present an amazing opportunity to improve your customer support infrastructure, increase customer retention, solidify a rockstar rep, and transform the way you do business.

So, if when things go wrong, how are you going to react? Like it’s the end of days or that another golden opportunity has reared its shiny head?

Measuring Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

CSAT measures a customer’s satisfaction with a particular product or service. As it relates to the complaint resolution process, it focuses specifically on how well the company resolved the customer’s issue. CSAT doesn’t paint the whole picture on its own, and it’s a metric that means little unless it’s contextualized in the wider framework of Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). CLV is a concrete figure that represents the dollars and cents value a customer poses to the company.

csat score chart

When it comes to resolving issues that come up throughout the customer journey, you don’t need to be an expert to know that poor customer support has a negative impact on revenue and CLV. 

But the converse is also true: Here at Route, we’ve steadily maintained a 94%–98% CSAT, plus customers and partners who have used our claims resolution process have also seen a 10% increase in their CSAT ratings with a 45% decrease in customer support–related shipping costs to boot.

So, this all seems relatively simple, right? Pointing your ecommerce strategy to boosting your CSAT score means being customer-focused, providing better experiences across the customer journey, and, in turn, seeing increases in CLV as loyalty grows. 

No matter how CSAT-driven you are, though, there are bound to be some bumps in the ecommerce road. Delays in shipping by the carrier, porch piracy, and other factors beyond your grasp could all chip away at your CSAT glory.

You’re not doomed, though. We have some ideas for turning those detrimental events into silver linings stocked with good results.

Customers Complain, but Your Store Can Turn Frowns Upside-down

Now that we have a handle on CSAT, let’s take a deeper look at some of the most common post-purchase complaints customers face and the ways retailers can address them.

The Problem: Unexpected Shipping Delays

More than half of customers expect some kind of compensation or discount if a package arrives outside its expected delivery window. Delayed shipping also impacts customer retention, as 69% of customers are unlikely to return to a business if their package arrives even two days after the promised date.

shipping delay

The Opportunity: Manage Expectations

It might be a cliche, but the idea of under-promising and over-delivering is one of the most effective ways to manage customer expectations and yield higher customer satisfaction rates. Outside of offering refunds or discounts for orders that arrive late, there are a few strategies you can employ to help manage customer expectations prior to purchase:

  • Flexible Shipping Windows
    If you offer two-day or next-day shipping, you need to honor that promise; however, offering wide-ranging shipping times that give you some wiggle room can help reduce customer irritation if delivery is taking longer than expected. And if you can make this option free, all the better, as customers are willing to wait longer if shipping is free.

Pssst! We have sneaky secrets about offering free shipping right in the middle of this public post. Read this blog to see how any online store can entice shoppers with free shipping without gouging their own bottom line.

  • Real-Time Tracking
    Another way to manage customer expectations is to provide real-time tracking at every step of the delivery process. Knowing the location of a package at any given moment builds customer trust and increases the likelihood of repeat customers and that sweet second purchase.
  • Live Updates
    In the event that a package is likely to arrive outside its expected window, sending live updates outlining the delivery issue can help adjust customer expectations and assuage any worries. Not that they’ll love the late delivery time, but they’ll at least appreciate the notice and feel informed instead of blindsided.

The Problem: [Fill in the Blank] Packages

In addition to packages arriving late, one of the most common problems ecommerce customers face is packages that don’t arrive at all. Or maybe they did arrive on time, but some schmuck came and swiped them. Or they were damaged. Or maybe the package arrived on time and in one piece, but it contained the wrong item.

All of these are common occurrences, and they are all a huge bummer.

Even if some of these scenarios are beyond your control as a retailer, you will still likely be your customers’ first point of contact following a delivery mishap. And it’s on you to be prepared.

The Opportunity: Instill Confidence

While it’s almost impossible to account for every possible setback in the delivery process, you can provide your customers with sincerity, empathy, and assurances that you’re doing everything possible to ship their goods to them as advertised. 

  • Legible Shipping Labels
    Unreadable or damaged shipping labels can wreak havoc on customer confidence. Shipping labels that can be easily scanned and are durable enough to withstand the elements might go unnoticed by the customer, but will go a long way toward getting the correct package from A to B.
  • Discreet Packaging
    According to a 2017 package theft report by Shorr, 47% of customers shop with companies that use discreet packaging because they feel it provides additional security against package theft.
  • Click and Collect
    Alternative delivery options, such as click and collect, that allow customers to make a purchase online then pick up in store eliminate uncertainty and give customers a chance to inspect the quality of their items. Plus, they’ll get to interact with an actual person before bringing it home, which empowers the customer to bring up any questions or issues and get answers in real time.
  • Package Protection
    Low-cost package protection is a no-brainer toward instilling customer confidence by saving customers money and hassle should they need to file a claim on a lost or damaged package (more on that next).
route package protection

The Problem: Hard-to-File Claims Process

As with any claims process, the burden of proof, and consequently the work, is on the customer. And whether companies are aware of it or not, filing a claim on a damaged or lost package can be incredibly difficult—from narrow filing windows, to necessary documentation, to confusion as to the point of contact (e.g. the retailer, a third party, etc.).

The Opportunity: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Customers are understandably stressed before they even begin the claims process, so creating a simple claims filing solution is a great way to put yourself on the customer’s side of the table. Sweeping away any more friction that could come between a customer and their purchase is critical, so resolving claims as quickly and easily is possible will leave you with a better rep than before.

  • Comprehensive FAQ
    An easy place to start is the content on your website, particularly in the FAQ section. Clear answers as to what does and does not qualify for a claim, required documentation, etc., can help customers understand right away what info they need to have on hand and what they can expect throughout the process.
  • Personalized Resolution
    It should come as no surprise that customers like to be treated like human beings deserving of respect. Personalized claim resolution—either in the form of human-led customer service or interactive chatbots—will lead to greater customer satisfaction than any form letter or endless options in an automated phone message ever could. 
  • Design FeaturesOne effective way to improve customer satisfaction through the claims process is to allow them to file easily online. Consider ways to reduce the number of steps or simplify the language in submitting a claim. Just like forms when registering for something, remember to keep the number of fields they have to fill out to a minimum.Even better, to reduce the amount of typing and time, offer a drop-down menu prefilled with claims options.

Golden Opportunities Await in Every Customer Complaint

There’s no shortage of things you can’t control once a package leaves your store or warehouse. And while you can’t always guarantee that it will arrive to the customer in the manner and time they expect, you can dedicate real time and resources toward building customer trust and improving your CSAT rating throughout the post-purchase process.

Remember to manage their expectations, instill confidence that you’re doing all you can, and promote transparent communication as you work to resolve their complaints. By keeping the customer at the forefront of every solution, you’ll have a process that leaves everyone happy (along with your bottom line).

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