Make Holiday Returns Easy for Better CX

Returns can be a headache for customers, but enterprising companies can mine the occasions to build better CX.

Just as Black Friday is known as the busiest shopping day of the year, the day after Christmas is known as the busiest return day of the year. The high rate of returns tends to continue for the next few weeks as people seek to return or exchange gifts because the items were the wrong size or color — or the recipient just wanted something else.

While the return of gifts can be anywhere from an inconvenience to a big hassle for customers, enterprising companies can use these occasions as opportunities to improve CX.

Streamline the Return Process for Better CX

Retailers have an obvious incentive to reduce returns as US customer returns accounted for 16.6% of US retail sales in 2021, according to a National Retail Federation report, said Alyx Kaczuwka, head of product marketing at XY Retail. But holiday returns are inevitable, so it is essential for retailers to offer personalized customer experiences that can turn as many of these returns into exchanges as possible.

Exchanges are better for the retailer’s bottom line, Kaczuwka pointed out. With 360-degree visibility into warehouse and in-store inventory, retailers can easily facilitate exchanges rather than returns when the holiday gift wasn’t in the customer’s preferred size or color and ship the item directly to the customer from anywhere — or find them something that better suits their style.

Customers want holiday merchandise returns to be as convenient and hassle-free as possible, Kaczuwka added. “Retailers that have identified the pain points that customers have experienced in the past with returns should streamline their processes to remove any friction from the return process. Easy-to-understand return policies, extended return times and convenient options like the ability to return goods purchased online in-store help deliver a seamless customer experience.”

When removing common pain points, one place to look is discounting, which can often be confusing to a gift recipient returning the item — as well as to retailers’ systems, Kaczuwka said. “Ensure that when a gift receipt is provided, a full record of any discounting the purchaser received is retained in the system so that the refund can be processed accurately and clearly communicated and the customer understands any discrepancy between the purchase price and current retail price.”

Related Article: 8 Customer Experience Statistics You Need to Know

Offer Swift Refunds on Returns to Avoid Customer Distress

Though many times a customer will accept an exchange, other times, particularly when money is tight, the customer wants a refund. And with holiday bills pending (most credit card charges need to be paid in three-to-six weeks, depending on the billing cycle), customers want their money back as quickly as possible, said Brian David Crane, Spread Great Ideas CEO. 

“Delayed refunds create discomfort, which is why companies should have a policy where it is easy to check products for any possible issues before providing full refunds,” he said. “A good refund policy always means a 100% money-back guarantee. Provide extended return or exchange timelines (30-to-90 days) so customers aren’t pressured to make quick decisions. Ensure that the link to the return policy is prominently visible on the website, so there is no difficulty in finding it.”

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