The Impact of Returns Automation on the Customer Experience
June 21, 2023
by Rebecca Fox

As eCommerce continues to grow and technology advances, it presents new opportunities to enhance the customer experience in innovative ways – one such way is through returns automation.

Automating the returns process makes returns faster, easier, and more convenient for your customers, leading to higher satisfaction and retention.

Let’s explore how returns automation can improve the customer experience while streamlining your workflow. 

Understanding Returns Automation

Returns automation is the process of using technology to automate the returns process. It means that the entire returns process, from initiating a return to processing the refund or exchange, is streamlined and can be managed automatically.

Automating your returns process can greatly improve the customer returns experience. It enables customers to easily initiate a return, track its status in real-time, and choose from various return options and resolutions that suit their preferences and needs.

Compared to manually handling returns, returns automation provides a more efficient and reliable returns process, reducing the time and effort required to process returns.

Let’s dive into how automating your returns process can help you provide a better returns experience for your customers, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.

How Returns Automation Improves the Customer Experience

Automating your returns process can improve the customer experience by reducing confusion and frustration, empowering customers to initiate returns in a self-service manner, and keeping them updated in real-time.

Here are some of the ways automated returns improve the customer experience:

Faster Resolution Times

It can be frustrating for customers to wait a long time for a refund or exchange. That’s why automating your returns can be a game-changer. It can speed up the entire returns process and streamline your resolution times.

With an automated returns process, customers can start a return with just a few clicks, without having to contact your customer service or fill out any forms. They can easily initiate a return online from wherever they are, on whatever device they prefer.

Automated returns also help you process and approve returns faster. Instead of having to manually check and approve each return, you can use automation to speed up tasks such as approving returns, issuing refunds, and releasing exchange orders. You can even set up eligibility rules to automatically accept or reject returns based on your return policy.

By automating your returns process, instead of waiting for weeks or months, customers can receive their refund or exchange in just a few days or even hours. This can make a huge difference in the customer experience and increase customer satisfaction.

When customers know they can rely on you for fast and efficient returns, they’re more likely to choose your store over competitors.

Real-Time Updates

With returns automation, your customers can track their returns in real-time without having to wonder or worry about what’s happening with their return. 

An automated returns system can send automatic notifications to customers via email or SMS, providing them with timely updates and alerts. This eliminates the need for customers to constantly check their email or phone for updates, as they’ll be notified when something important happens.

Customers can see when their return has been received, processed, approved, or rejected, and when their refund or exchange has been issued. 

By providing your customers with real-time updates, you can build trust and reduce uncertainty, improving customer satisfaction while reducing customer service queries and issues.

Convenience and Flexibility

One of the biggest benefits of returns automation is the increased convenience and flexibility it offers to customers. 

With an automated returns process, customers won’t have to wait on hold for customer service or visit a physical store location to initiate a return – instead, they can easily initiate a return at any time and from any device. This level of flexibility means customers can initiate returns on their own terms, whenever and however is most convenient for them.

97% of customers have backed out of a purchase because it was inconvenient to them, and 94% are more likely to choose a store to buy from based on convenience.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to returns, with an automated returns process, you can have customers choose the resolution that works best for them, whether it’s a refund, exchange, or store credit. 

They can also choose the return method that suits their needs and preferences, whether it’s a pre-paid shipping label, drop-off location, or another method.

Empowering your customers by giving them more control over their returns process makes them more likely to feel valued and satisfied with their returns experience.

Personalized Experience

Returns automation can be a game-changer in providing a personalized returns experience that meets the unique needs and preferences of each customer.

By automating returns, you can create a customized returns process for each customer based on their purchase history, behavior, and feedback. For example, you can offer different return options and methods based on the reason and category of their return. 

Personalizing the returns process can save customers time and hassle, and show that you understand their needs. 80% of customers are more likely to make a purchase when they receive a personalized experience.

Returns automation can be used to personalize the return process in several ways:

  • Provide incentives or discounts – Encourage customers to keep their purchases or exchange them for something else instead of receiving a refund, making sure they end up with something they love.
  • Showcase testimonials or reviews – Highlight the benefits of your products or services to reassure customers that they made the right choice and help them feel good about their purchase, even if they need to return it.

By personalizing the returns process through automation, you can create a positive and memorable returns experience for your customers. They’ll appreciate the attention to detail and the effort you put into making their returns process as smooth and convenient as possible.

Self-Service Returns

Self-service return portals have become increasingly popular recently in eCommerce due to their ability to improve the customer experience. 

Customers increasingly expect more convenience and flexibility when it comes to the returns process, and eCommerce stores are responding by implementing automated solutions that provide greater control and visibility over their returns.

Here are some ways a self-service return portal can improve the customer experience:

  • User-friendly experience – Customers can initiate a return from anywhere, anytime, without having to contact customer service or visit a physical store, they can simply go to your return portal and request a return or exchange in a few clicks.
  • Clear return policy – With a self-service return portal, customers can only return eligible items, helping prevent customers from trying to return items that don’t comply with your return policy.
  • Easy-to-follow process – Customers are walked through the returns process, step by step, which can help customers feel empowered and informed, reducing the chances of errors or misunderstandings.
  • Flexible options – Giving customers a choice of return methods and resolutions can increase the chances of customer satisfaction by giving them control over their return. 

81% of customers say they want more self-service options, so providing a self-service return portal and automated returns process will greatly improve your customers’ returns experience.

Customer Behavior Analytics

Automating your returns process can also help you improve your customer experience by providing you with valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences. 

By tracking your returns data you can measure various aspects of your returns process, such as return rates, reasons for returns, return processing time and costs, and the impact of returns on your repeat purchase rate.

Analyzing this data will enable you to identify patterns and trends that can help you optimize your returns process for a better customer experience. 

For example, you can reduce your return rates by improving your product quality, descriptions, images, reviews, and sizing guides, and increase customer retention by optimizing the returns process to provide faster refunds or exchanges, personalized recommendations, or loyalty rewards.

Return analytics help you segment your customers based on their return behavior and preferences.

To identify different types of customers, you can segment your customers into:

  • Most profitable customers – Customers who spend a lot and rarely return items.
  • Least profitable customers – Customers who spend a lot but request a lot of refunds.
  • Average customers – Customers whose behavior and profitability are within the median range of all customers.

By segmenting your customers, you can tailor your marketing and sales strategies to meet their needs and expectations. 

For example, you can target frequent returners with offers or discounts that encourage them to keep their purchases, or target infrequent returners with loyalty rewards or cross-selling campaigns.

Tracking your return analytics through an automated returns management system can help you understand your customers better and provide them with an even more personalized and relevant returns experience.

How to Implement Automated Returns for a Better Customer Experience

To automate your returns process and improve the customer experience, you’ll need to set up a returns management system. Here are some steps to get started:

1. Choose an RMS That Suits Your Needs

There are various returns management systems (RMS) available that can help you automate your returns process. 

Compare features, pricing, integrations, support, etc., read reviews, and then choose the one that best fits your business goals and requirements.

When choosing an RMS, consider how it will integrate with your existing systems and workflows to provide a smooth returns process for both you and your customers.

Chat with our experts to boost your customer return experience and LTV today.

2. Set up Your Return Policy and Resolutions

Create a clearly-defined return policy, that includes information such as eligibility criteria, return window, shipping costs, and refund methods. Make sure your return policy is easy to find on your website, emails, and product pages.

Offer various return resolutions that customers can choose from, such as refund, exchange, or store credit, and return methods such as pre-paid shipping labels, QR codes, or drop-off locations.

3. Integrate With Your eCommerce Store and Other Tools

Integrate your RMS with your eCommerce store and connect it with other tools that you use for your business, such as warehouse management systems (WMS), helpdesks, shipping carriers, etc.

With a cohesive integration of all your systems and channels, you can ensure smooth, consistent, and seamless data flow and make it easier to process returns and exchanges.

4. Test and Launch Your Automated Returns Process

Before launching your automated returns process to your customers, you should test it thoroughly to ensure that it works properly and meets your expectations. 

Test your automated returns process using real-life scenarios, such as initiating returns with different resolutions and methods, as well as in different situations, like when items are damaged, incorrect, or missing.

By testing your automated returns process, you can ensure that it’s user-friendly, intuitive, and meets your customers’ expectations. You can also test the integration between your RMS and other tools, such as your WMS and shipping carriers, to ensure seamless communication and data flow.

Once you’ve thoroughly tested your automated returns process, you can launch it to your customers with confidence, knowing that it will provide a better customer experience and improve your returns management process.

5. Educate Customers About Your Automated Returns Process 

After launching your automated returns process, promote it to your customers and educate them about its features and benefits. 

Highlight how easy and convenient it is to initiate and complete a return through your self-service return portal. 

Make sure to provide clear instructions and guidance on how to request a return, and provide customer service and support in case of any questions or issues.

By following these steps and best practices, you can implement an automated returns process in your eCommerce store and provide a better customer experience.

Automate Your Returns to Improve the Returns Experience 

As technology continues to evolve, it’s clear that returns automation is becoming more prevalent in the eCommerce industry. By implementing an automated returns process, you can provide their customers with a smoother and more convenient returns experience.

Returns automation makes it easier for customers to initiate and track a return in real-time. This reduces uncertainty and builds customer trust while improving customer satisfaction.

Automate your returns with ReturnGO to streamline the returns process, providing a smooth and convenient returns experience for your customers.

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