How to Master the Post-Purchase Experience

Man unboxing package

As ecommerce practitioners, we tend to focus most of our energy on driving visitors to our site and getting them to convert. But the post purchase experience is equally as important for retaining that customer and getting them to tell friends and family. 

According to Accenture, “In the U.S. the estimated cost of customers switching due to poor service is $1.6 trillion.” That’s a staggering number. But it’s not all that surprising. Many of us have been hard-pressed to get in touch with a company due to a faulty product or needing a refund. This type of interaction (or non-interaction) can lead customers to stop purchasing from that company and to go so far as to spread negative word of mouth to friends and family. 

In this article, you’re going to learn: 

  • 5 areas to optimize your post-purchase experience
  • What to ask in a post-purchase survey
  • The best ways to elicit reviews
  • One thing the majority of customers expect but only half of stores provide

The 5 Post-Purchase Areas

The experience after a purchase isn’t just about receiving the product. It’s about the packaging and unboxing experience, customer support, communication (emails, postcards, SMS), private feedback, and public feedback (reviews). 

Take one at a time if you’re looking to start optimizing your post-purchase experience. A great place to start is mining your current reviews. Do customers mention anything they love about the company or getting the products? Are there any complaints? Put your findings into a document that you can reference later. And use some of the best quotes from these reviews in your marketing. 

Next, create a survey to send out to prior customers. The survey should be no more than 10 questions and not take more than 5-10 minutes. Reward those that fill out the survey by providing a discount code or entering them in a raffle for something of value (gift card to the store, etc.). You should first try getting feedback from your most loyal customers (those that have spent a lot in the past or purchased multiple times). 

Lastly, ask your support team what type of feedback they are getting from customers. Do customers mention issues with packaging? Do they have questions about the product after they receive it? 

Product Packaging & Unboxing

Providing a unique packaging experience can lead to customers sharing your company with friends, family, and on social. Consider the costs of creating a more branded experience from a branded box or envelope to material inside the package (a postcard with information on how to contact support and ask for reviews, etc.). 

Man unboxing package

It may cost a little more to create this new packaging, especially if you had previously been using plain boxes and envelopes, but consider the positive word of mouth that can be elicited and the most positive brand impression a customer will have. 

Consider that it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain an existing one. So the money you invest in improving the post-purchase experience, though perhaps it won’t see a direct ROI, is helping to improve the likelihood of a second or third purchase. 

Help Your Customers Before They Ask

After you’ve asked customer support to catalog the issues customers are commonly having after a purchase, use that information to create material to put in your packaging to help proactively answer these questions. 

Include information about your customer support channels so visitors know that you do have a team that can answer questions if they happen to have any. 

The last thing you want is a customer who is confused by something that can be easily answered. They will appreciate it if they can find that information quickly when they first get the product. But if they can also conveniently reach out to customer support that is also a new touchpoint that will help reinforce the brand. 

Automated Communication Post-Purchase

The customer journey shouldn’t end at receiving the product. Customers should continue to be communicated to after they get their product. 

There are a few ways to reach out to them: email, SMS, physical mail. 

Allbirds Thank You Email

Typically you are going to be sending them a post-purchase thank you email flow after they order. This will contain information about their order, package tracking, customer support information, and should let them know what to expect (instructions if the product needs to be assembled, estimated shipping times, etc.), and later on ask for reviews or user generated content. 

When asking for reviews, make sure to ask after a few set intervals in time. Ask about 2-4 weeks after purchase, and make sure to send 1-2 reminders. You’re not allowed to incentivize reviews, but let customers know how much you value their feedback is and that you utilize it to continue making the products better. 

Also consider how to incorporate educational material. For example, if your clothing utilizes sustainable methods, you can mention this in post-purchase communication. Another example is if you sell something like electronics, customers will likely need some tips and guides on how to properly use the item. 

Elicit Surveys and Feedback

Your customers are a wealth of information. Consider asking them for their honest feedback in a survey. Provide them the chance to win a gift card or get a discount on their next purchase in exchange. 

Bellroy review emailDon’t ask too soon after purchase, as you want to give customers enough time to properly use and evaluate the product. Try sending an email after 30 days and see how the response rate is. 

We touched on this a bit in a section above, but here are a few questions you can consider including in your survey:

  • Was there anything that almost stopped you from purchasing?
  • What interested you in purchasing from us? 
  • What would get you to purchase again? 
  • What would improve your experience? 
  • What did you dislike least about your experience? 

Turn Returns into Repeat Customers

Depending on your industry, you may experience more or less returns than other stores. Invesp states that at least 30% of all products ordered online are returned, yet only 49% of stores offer free return shipping. A big hurdle to buying online is the lack of ability to touch, try on, or test out a product. 

Visitors are likely to have a better opinion of your store if you let them return an item for free. Invesp says that 92% of customers will buy something again if returns are easy. 

A potentially awful experience for a customer (receiving a broken item, missing package) can be turned into a great experience when handled the right way. Giving customers refunds, sending out their order again, apologizing for the issue are great ways to keep the customer happy and likely coming back again. 

How can you improve your post-purchase experience by 10%? How about improving it 10x? What impact could that make to your brand and the impression new customers have and the likelihood they share your brand or re-order? 

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