Returns: a misaligned customer experience
The customer experience is the lifeblood of Australia’s most recognisable athletic footwear retailer, The Athlete’s Foot. To better serve their customers, they realised they needed a streamlined process for returns that not only slashed processing time, but a solution that could provide a consistent customer experience throughout the whole journey, including how items are returned.
In stores, trained team members use specialist equipment to find the perfect shoes to suit every customer’s requirements. Their generous free returns policy guarantees satisfaction with professionally-fit shoes and offers a full refund for all unworn products returned within 30 days.
Unfortunately, this policy meant that processing returns for online orders was time-intensive and manual for both customers and The Athlete’s Foot’s Customer Service team.
Every return involved a chain of emails sent back and forth between the customer and the Customer Service team, firstly to determine whether a request fits within the returns policy, and then to organise pick up of the item. It often took several days to resolve each request and wasn’t providing an amazing experience consistent with their purchasing journey.
An automated solution to boost the customer experience
The leading footwear retailer partnered with Shippit to develop Shippit Returns to simplify the product returns process for both customers and team members.
Instead of having to wade through a series of emails, a customer can now log on to the online returns portal with their email address and order number. They select the item to be returned, then specify the reason for the return and the condition of the product to submit a request.
Pre-configured rules allow the company to specify which return reasons can be automatically approved, and which need to be manually reviewed. Requests that comply with the returns policy are automatically approved, alleviating a lot of stress for anxious customers.
Easy to access, instant returns now meant that shoppers could immediately print a return shipping label and drop off the item at a post office, enabling The Athlete’s Foot to provide a world-class customer experience for returns. The small number of requests that are not automatically approved are then processed by the Customer Service team. Once the item is received, store managers only have to check the item and issue a refund or exchange.
The new returns portal dramatically reduces the time taken to approve a returns request—from days down to seconds. This boosts customer satisfaction without eating into the Customer Service team’s time.
A more proactive and productive CX team
Shippit Returns also reduces manual processes and saves time for team members at The Athlete’s Foot. Now that so much of the process is automated, the Customer Service team can now take a proactive approach to the customer experience. The team has halved the time they spend processing returns requests.
“The Customer Service team can now follow up on approved return requests that haven’t been actioned by the store before they become an issue. Processing online return requests on a single platform has also provided better visibility as to why items are being returned.”
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Driving customer loyalty with easy returns
The very nature of the returns process is that it can often be a negative experience, so it’s important to have a returns process that alleviates stress for customers and demonstrates empathy. Shippit Returns makes the process as painless as possible by allowing customers to initiate a return online. Customers love the simplicity of the new returns platform and The Athlete’s Foot has processed thousands of returns requests on Shippit Returns since February 2018.
“So far customer feedback has been really positive. They appreciate that the returns process is really simple and easy.”
Depending on their needs, customers also have the choice of going into a store to request a return.
The implementation of Shippit Returns at The Athlete’s Foot has resulted in a better variety of shopping, delivery and returns options for customers. The long-term success has shown that empowering customers to control their own returns retains and builds more loyal customers.
“For companies looking to implement or upgrade their returns system, we would recommend keeping the process simple for your customers. Try to automate as much as possible and don’t compromise the customer experience.”