Why Customer Service Can Make or Break Your Reverse Logistics Strategies

It might seem strange to consider customer service as a factor in your reverse logistics strategies. After all, a customer doesn’t have much to do with warehouse procedures or issues like refurbishing, restocking, or resale. So, in what way does customer service factor into your reverse logistics? Well, a good customer service department can help with customer satisfaction during the return process. Without it, you could be losing money or customer loyalty.   

The customer plays a critical role

Imagine that a customer has purchased your product. The customer can’t touch the item because they can only purchase it online. The customer receives their product, but the product is different from what they ordered, and they want to make a return. Regardless of their prior experience, this critical moment is where customer loyalty is either made or broken.  

A good customer service department can help customers submit their return, answer questions, and provide a better returns experience. 

How to institute a stronger RMA policy

One of the best ways to avoid a loss of customer loyalty during the reverse supply chain is to provide a seamless returns experience. A return management authorization (RMA) system is the first place to start. An RMA holds information about the return, giving the customer service team a better idea of why the customer is returning the product, and what they are looking to receive in return.   

With an RMA system, you can set a return window, an exchange threshold, and shipping fees. Creating a more defined return policy to set clear expectations with customers. By simply managing an RMA process as part of your reverse logistics strategies, you may be able to cut down on returns, see increased profits and retain loyal customers. 

How to lose a customer during the return process

Sometimes returns are necessary. Customer service plays a huge role in customer retention during the reverse chain. It can be easy to lose a customer at this time if you fail in these three areas:

  1. Unclear shipping costs and policies: Customers who expect free shipping, but find they must pay, will not be pleased. If the cost of a return is significantly higher than the customer expected, it can lead to a loss in customer loyalty. You must clearly state return policies and shipping costs with every item you ship to a customer.  
  2. Lack of available replacements: Suppose your company sells round purple products, but accidentally sends the oval red product instead. The customer will not be happy to learn that, although they did everything right, they received the wrong product, and cannot make a return for the correct item. At times like this, a solid RMA strategy can help clear up confusion and set the customer’s mind at ease.  
  3. Time to return and refund: This is another area where a customer deserves full disclosure. Including these terms in your sales contract and having an RMA team who is fully aware of your company policies, will work to eliminate customer confusion.

With an RMA strategy and a staff that understands your return policies, the customer is better informed and kept in the loop. They’ll feel valued by being included. A customer who feels valued by customer service is more likely to form a loyalty to your company even if they have to make a return.

Image credit: Dennis Skley

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