US brands are missing opportunities to connect with their customers
Published on: June 13, 2022
Updated: August 28, 2023
Our latest research found that brands are missing out on key opportunities to connect with customers during the post-purchase experience. We surveyed and tested brands across the US to find out how they’re treating customers after checkout. Here’s what you need to know.
Why it’s important to connect with customers post-checkout
Every marketer understands intuitively that you need to connect with customers. If you can’t connect with someone, how can you persuade them to buy?
Staying in touch with your customers can also increase the chances of re-purchase. It leads to an increase in average customer lifetime value. And, it can improve overall customer satisfaction and review ratings.
By “staying in touch”, we don’t just mean sending out the occasional newsletter. A lot of your communication with customers will be transactional: think shipping notifications, delivery updates, review requests, and so on.
In fact, 64% of consumers say that transactional emails are the most valuable messages they receive. And with a near-100% open rate, those practical emails are your best chance to build a relationship with customers.
Missed opportunities in the post-purchase customer experience
So why aren’t brands making the most of these opportunities? Often, brands offer a high level of customer service, but they neglect their experience post-purchase. More specifically, during operational processes like fulfilment, shipping, delivery and returns. In other words: they’re great if customers contact them with a delivery problem. Otherwise, they’re silent.
We’re also seeing brands and retailers miss out on post-purchase touchpoints because they don’t understand what customers want. For example:
- Most brands don’t offer a choice of shipping carriers, delivery methods, or packaging type – but our research shows that consumers want a choice.
- The returns experience is a major factor in customer decisions in e-commerce. But retailers are failing to rise to the challenge. In some cases, they simply tell people to keep unwanted purchases!
The businesses that pay attention to the post-purchase customer experience have a big advantage. They can focus their efforts on services which customers actually want, while finding opportunities to become more efficient.
For example, The Container Store understands that returns management is a key part of their business. They now offer receipt-free returns with real-time app updates for members of their loyalty program – potentially increasing both customer satisfaction and program membership. In a similar vein, Target has started offering drive-through returns, responding to its customers’ preference for fast, curbside service.
How to reach customers with post-purchase touchpoints
Not every brand is as big as Sephora or Target. But pretty much every brand can benefit from better communication with customers. Here are some of the most important post-purchase touchpoints, based on our research:
- Shipping notifications. You’ve confirmed your online purchase. Now what? Getting a notification when your purchase ships is both reassuring and exciting. It’s also a great chance for brands to talk to customers. We’ve found that only 2% of shipping confirmations actually include personalized information.
- Delivery updates. Regular delivery updates can reduce the burden on your customer service team by keeping customers engaged and informed. This is especially important for last mile delivery. And don’t just hand off delivery tracking to a third party: hosting your own tracking can boost web traffic by up to 85%.
- Returns management. Returns are complicated: they have to be shipped, received, checked, confirmed, and then refunded or exchanged. Customers are looking for an easy returns experience with lots of reassuring updates.
- Feedback requests. If you’ve provided a great service and communicated well with customers, they’ll be in perfect shape to write a favorable review. Feedback requests should be a routine part of your post-purchase communications.
Are you missing out on customer connection? Want to know how other US brands – like Target, Nordstrom, and Apple – are delivering the post-purchase experience? Read our report on levelling up with Operations Experience Management!