Jason Ankeny at Retail Dive details the push by retailers to improve the post-purchase experience for shoppers. Why? Maybe it's because, while retailers spend nearly 80% of their digital marketing budgets on customer acquisition, returning customers spend nearly twice as much as new ones - and one of the top features that keeps customers coming back is a seamless, pleasant customer service experience.
Ankeny highlights a survey by Support.com demonstrating that a plurality of consumers consider post-purchase support the most important component of the customer journey. Money quote:
"Support asked connected consumers (defined as frequent to heavy users of everyday technology) to assess all major phases of the customer journey, from pre-purchase through purchase, setup and/or use, customer support and additional purchases. About 40% of respondents said that post-purchase experiences including installation/setup, technical issues and returns make up the most memorable aspect of the overall brand experience. Shopping online or in store garnered just 17% of responses, followed by assistance from a sales representative (15%), and purchasing a product or service (14%)."
The article details several areas of investment in which retailers are attempting to improve the post-purchase experience: simplifying returns, improved customer service and support, and branded content, all of which can dramatically improve retention and word of mouth. The customer experience is one of the fundamental drivers of loyalty, and offering only table stakes in the post-purchase environment is no longer sufficient to win in retail.
The bullet point: No discussion of investment in the customer experience is complete, however, without an accounting of customer value. Not all customers are equally profitable, and very often customers with the least potential cost the most to serve. Companies who invest heavily in the post-purchase experience therefore risk finding their expensive, high-impact touch points flooded by those low-value consumers who often squawk the loudest.
To avoid spending too much money on unprofitable customers, factoring a cost-to-serve analysis into your segmentation models can help your investment into the post-purchase experience work harder. With proper segmentation, you'll learn how to funnel low-value customers into self-service channels while lavishing high-touch service on those customers with the most current and potential value.
It's always important to provide a baseline quality experience for everyone - both new and returning customers. Your most valuable customers, however, deserve more: more liberal returns policies, dedicated customer service lines, or extended technical support. The post-purchase environment is a critical point of investment for retailers. It's even more critical to invest more heavily in your best customers.
Read Ankeny's article here.