In fact, almost any purchase can lead to the customer having regrets or concerns. And no business wants to be associated with those kinds of bad feelings.
It often happens when the customer’s expectations for the product or service don’t align with their actual experience. That can be sparked by a perceived lack of value, lower-then-expected quality or better, cheaper options they see elsewhere.
Jeff Sauro, founder of the Denver-based customer research MeasuringU, offers these suggestions for what a small business can do to lower the risks of customer remorse:
1. Reinforce the initial choice. Sometimes simply validating a customer’s choice to buy your product or service is enough to stave off any hint of buyer’s remorse. After all, it’s human nature to want reassurance that we’ve made the right decision. Simple things such as follow-up calls, thank you notes, post cards or invitations to events can work wonders. Also include positive reinforcement messaging in your newsletters, ads and social media. For example, you might post a testimonial from a satisfied customer on your Facebook page or publish a newsletter or blog article suggesting additional uses for your product.
2. Offer a return guarantee and collect data about why and how often returns are made. Offering a return guarantee is crucial to alleviating buyer remorse for individual customers. But this by itself is sufficient only if you have a small number of returns. If your return rate is steady or high, you need to find the sources so you can take actions to prevent future returns. To do that, it’s critical to collect data on return rates, dates and details. Then look for clues about the root causes.
3. Examine the buying experience at different touch points. Buyer’s remorse can develop for different reasons at different times. It might not even be sparked by the product itself, but perhaps by a poor service experience. Be sure to examine areas such as shipping and delivery, unboxing, installation, setup, customer support and feature usage.
4. Rethink your product or service based on what customers collectively say they want. When was the last time you directly asked customers what they think about your product or service? Do they really believe it offers good value? Or do you simply assume this is the case? Do they feel it’s overpriced? Are there concerns over quality, performance, features, etc.? “Learning that you need to offer better value to your customers probably won’t be comfortable for you or your business,” says Sauro. “But the good news is that these kinds of changes are like low-hanging fruit when it comes to combating buyer’s remorse.”
5. Don’t rely on just one remorse-removing tactic. If you are fortunate, your business can reduce buyer’s remorse with a single step. But much more often, business owners see success in this area only when they blend a variety of strategies to address the problem. Sauro points to Zappos.com as an example. Buying shoes online comes with risk since customers can’t try them on and may have to deal with the hassle of returning a purchase. So Zappos first minimizes the risk to the customer by offering fast, free shipping, free returns and free return shipping. What's more, Zappos provides great customer service. Its reps are known for staying on calls for as long as it takes to resolve a customer’s problem.
"The bottom line is, the more you know about your customers and their needs, expectations and post-purchase experiences, the better your odds of turning remorse into lasting satisfaction," says Sauro.
Remember that your "job" doesn’t end with making the sale. Don’t rest until any concern about your product or service has been transformed into delight.
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