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Why the Post-Purchase Customer Experience May Be Just as Important as the Sale Itself

By Ron Welty, Founder and Chief Client Officer

The customer journey doesn’t stop after a purchase is made. While the ultimate goal of any business is the sale, if you want to encourage repeat customers, brands should put the same focus on the post-purchase customer experience as well. 

The post-purchase customer experience consists of everything that happens after the customer checks out to when customer uses the product. This includes how online orders are fulfilled, delivered and communicated to your customers. 

Alex Poulos, vice president of marketing for Support.com, told Retail Dive, “79 percent of connected consumers said it’s important to have a positive experience after making the purchase.” These positive post-purchase customer experiences have the potential to increase customer retention, create brand advocacy and encourage future sales. Here are a few ways you can improve the post-purchase customer experience.

Free Shipping

When compared to shopping at brick and mortar stores, most would likely agree that a major downside to online shopping is having to pay a shipping fee. Dotcom Distribution found that 91 percent of consumers surveyed said being offered free shipping would make them more likely to become a repeat customer.

Look for ways to offer free or discounted shipping to entice customers to make a purchase. For example, for purchases of a certain value, you could offer free shipping. Or, you could include promotional discount codes for shipping in your email marketing campaigns to promote customer retention and drive sales.  

Fast Delivery

When Amazon introduced its Prime free two-day shipping service in 2005, customer expectations for delivery changed. Fast forward to today’s world of instant gratification, and you’ll find that customers don’t want to wait long for their online orders to arrive. In a survey by same-day delivery company Dropoff, 99 percent of consumers cited “fast delivery” as important when making online purchases, while one-third of respondents said they feel frustrated when same-day delivery isn’t offered. 

Take your customers’ expectations into consideration when choosing a logistics partner. You’ll want to be able to offer a variety of shipping options, so your customers can receive their purchase exactly when they need it.

Delivery Tracking

After your customer completes an online order, they’ll be eager to receive it. While waiting, many customers want reassurance that their order is on the way and there aren’t any hiccups in the delivery process. A report from delivery management platform MetaPack found that 93 percent of customers expect to be updated frequently on the delivery process, with 40 percent of online shoppers saying they check an item’s order status at least once a day.

You’ll first want to send your customers a thank you note to let them know you received their order and show your appreciation for their business. When the item ships, it’s best practice to notify the customer and provide a tracking number along with the expected arrival date, so your customer can stay in the know throughout the delivery process. Don’t forget to send another message once the package has been delivered to ensure everything arrived as expected.

Unboxing Experience

Once an online order has arrived, your customer will be excited to open their package. Build up the excitement by creating a fun and memorable unboxing experience. Another Dotcom Distribution survey found that nearly 40 percent of customers would share a picture of an online order via social media if it came in a unique, branded or gift-like box. 

Consider unique packaging, personalized notes or free samples as part of your unboxing experience. For example, Glossier ships its beauty products in a pink box and matching pink bubble pouch that includes a personal note, branded stickers and a collateral card with a product sample. Customers love unboxing Glossier’s packages so much, there are more than 73,000 videos on YouTube.

Social Media Sharing

Similar to unboxing, when customers love a product, they’ll be more likely to hype brands up on social media. Sprout Social found that 34 percent of customers reach out to brands via social media to commend them on their products or services. Take it one step further by creating a custom branded hashtag to encourage your customers to share their in-store and online purchases on social media.

For example, Aerie used the hashtag #AerieREAL as part of its “Real You” campaign that encourages customers of all body shapes to post their own pictures wearing Aerie products and share their story of what makes them live their best life. The company engages with customers who use the hashtag on all social media platforms and has received more than 176,000 posts (and counting) on Instagram alone.

Customer Support

Use the post-purchase customer experience to provide guidance that ensures your customer fully enjoys their purchase. About 40 percent of respondents in a survey conducted by Support.com said that post-purchase experiences including installation, setup and technical help make up the most memorable aspect of the overall brand experience. 

A simple “how-to” guide or informational video can help create an exceptional post-purchase experience, while reducing the risk of returns from frustrated customers who gave up trying to understand your product. Also consider other ways to provide useful content like an FAQ page or chatbots that can help answer customer questions in real time.

Refund and Return Policy

Making a purchase of any kind can be an emotional experience for the customer. Will the product meet their expectations? Was it a good purchase decision? Help reduce post-purchase anxiety by ensuring your customer is fully aware of your refund and return policy.

Being transparent about this can build trust with your customer by sending the message that your brand isn’t about generating sales; it’s about helping your customer make the right purchase decision. Consider including warranty with purchases to further show customers that your brand stands behind your products.

Product Recommendations

Creating exceptional customer experiences will encourage repeat buys from customers. New Voice Media reports that 50 percent of customers would buy from a company more frequently after a positive experience.

Help customers find their next products to purchase by providing personalized recommendations. Amazon is the prime example here, as the ecommerce site uses a mix of browsing and purchase history to make personalized recommendations to customers. McKinsey reports that this strategy contributes to 35 percent of Amazon’s revenue. The same tactic can be applied brick and mortar stores as well by training your associates to use upselling techniques to provide product recommendations to in-store customers.

Assess Your Customer Experience

Your company should strive to continuously optimize its customer experience even after the sale has been made. IntelliShop can help you understand, assess and improve the post-purchase customer experience. Our mystery shopping programs are designed to measure customer experience from beginning to end, while our voice of customer tools can be implemented at any stage of the customer journey to provide valuable insight into how your products and services were received. Contact IntelliShop today to request a quote and see how we can improve your post-purchase customer experience.