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UK retailers losing face through poor delivery and returns process

Online reviews are where consumers are venting

Problems with receiving and returning products are having a major impact on customer perceptions of UK retailers, according to a new report from post-purchase technology platform HelloDone

The research, which analysed 3,000 one-star Trustpilot reviews across 150 major UK retailers, showed that more than half (55%) of customer complaints were attributed to issues with the post-purchase experience, that is from the moment a customer has ‘clicked’ the buy button through to the item arriving at their front door.

Nearly 40% of one-star reviews were attributed to issues with delivery, while a further 15% mentioned the returns process as a contributing factor to a negative experience with a retailer.

The research also found that orders not arriving was the most commonly cited problem with deliveries, accounting for nearly half (48%) of all reviews that mentioned delivery, with late delivery (17%) the second most common complaint.

Post-purchase problems were most common amongst retailers in the fashion (68%), sports & leisure (51%), and specialist (49%) categories, with fashion (28%) and sports & leisure (17%) also having the most mentions of returns in their reviews. 

Dissatisfaction with customer service response times appeared in more than 1 in 4 reviews (27%) and was most prevalent in the electricals category, appearing in half of reviews (51%).

HelloDone CEO Ed Hodges explains: “Our research shows that some of the main sources of frustration for shoppers are the parts of the customer experience that retailers currently have the least control over. Each one-star review represents a customer who may now be lost forever. But with investment in the right processes and technology, we see a huge opportunity for retailers to turn the post-purchase experience into a source of commercial and competitive advantage.”

He adds” “In an ideal world, every delivery would arrive in mint condition, to the right location and at the precise time expected. But logistics is an extremely complex business and sometimes things will go wrong. We know from our work with our customers that effective, proactive communication through the digital channels they use most has a crucial role to play in managing expectations and leaving consumers with a good impression when there are issues to resolve.”

3 steps to better post-purchase communication

  1. Don’t just leave it to your logistics partners. Your customer should continue to receive updates from you directly after they receive their order confirmation rather than rely on the SMS or web portal of the carrier. This is even more important in the current circumstances, with many people receiving multiple orders on the same day.
  2. Be proactive. A delivery time is a promise – customers will be more forgiving if you alert them to any changes to their order or arrival time so there are no unwelcome surprises and allow them to re-arrange timings to make their lives easier. 
  3. Use automation to support post-purchase problem solving. Many common issues, particularly around WISMOs (where is my order?), can be resolved without the need for customer service centers and manual input. Automating more customer conversations frees up customer service teams to focus on the most complex and sensitive tickets.

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