In the wake of an online sale, does your business put the customer first? In order to create long-term loyalty, customer experience needs to factor in both their and the brand’s requirements, writes parcelLab CEO Tobias Buxhoidt.

Retailers need to step into their customers’ shoes to really understand what they want and need from their online shopping experience and adapt their communications accordingly to reap the long-term benefits. This was just one of the key takeaways I spoke about in a recent webinar, entitled Optimising the Post-Purchase Experience to Fuel Continued Engagement.

Retailers and merchants should know by now that ‘customer obsession’ is mandatory – but it shouldn’t stop when the customer clicks ‘buy’. In fact, the six stages of the customer lifecycle should be viewed as an infinite loop. It’s a natural thing that if you keep engaging with the customer, a certain percentage will engage and buy something else in the long term. If you are controlling those touchpoints and connecting with them, the likelihood is that they will come back.

Forrester statistics show that 70% of customers are less likely to shop with a retailer again if an item is delayed and the retailer fails to inform them of the delay. In fact, in a Covid-19 context, nearly 70% of consumers want to receive more communication from retailers about their deliveries during these times – less than 7% want to hear less. Furthermore, transactional emails garner clickthrough rates 3 x the rates for bulk mailings, and can drive more than 4 x the revenue. Shipping confirmation emails drive the most, followed by order confirmations and then return/exchange emails. 

In the post-purchase stage, you are communicating something that’s of value. If you connect shipping communications, which can garner open rates of 300-400%, with relevant content that is clickable, this allows you to be more precise and take this even further.

The time period between placing an order and receiving a package is the prime opportunity to re-engage the customer through a branded, controlled, relevant experience that adds value for the customer. Retailers need to provide and manage ongoing status updates as and when things change, even if there is a legitimate reason for a delay. If the experience is carefully managed and based on content that is actually helping, it adds value to the experience. 

Consider the customer’s mood. It might be a good moment to say sorry and offer them a coupon. Show that you truly care about them. Things sometimes go wrong, it happens. You can be super specific and personalised to create a certain engagement that gives you the result you are after.

By being proactive with suggestions and value-added, personalised content and communications, retailers can avoid disappointing customers by managing their expectations and capitalising on key moments during this stage of the customer journey.  

It all comes down to customer requirements and expectations – making sure you are treating every online customer like you would offline. Even if things don’t go to plan, you can still get the best out of it. If you start communicating with them yourself, you can start to define how this looks, and can control and define what every customer journey will look like.

You know exactly who the customer is, and what they bought – you might even know that customer from before. By taking control of this process and monitoring what’s happening, you can become a proactive brand. This turns into trust. Show them you are there for them. It’s not just about the product anymore. You want customers to connect with you as a brand. They remember the experience they had and they come to you because there’s trust, there’s a relationship.

But one size doesn’t fit all. You need different approaches for different customer segments and different customer groups. Going to every single customer, knowing who they are and what they want – that’s where true personalisation comes into play. It’s about helping the customer. 

When you make customers happy, it pays off. Based on data from more than 500 brands that parcelLab works with globally, we found a +90% increase in repurchasing rate, +55% increase in customer satisfaction, and -25% decrease in customer enquiries. 

Having a good end-to-end customer experience solution and engagement tool is key to making customers happy and creating a loyal customer base, which allows you to iterate on, look at how customers react and build on this. Different areas require different incentives. It comes down to customer requirement and brand requirement – this can be very different depending on what you want to achieve.

It’s so important to take the customer perspective – it might not be relevant if you don’t know what the customer expectations are. Use the information you have to trigger a message. You need to put yourself in the consumers’ position to understand what they want, differentiate and communicate your own brand story and values in post-purchase communications.