The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Amazon.com, long considered the gold standard for online customer service, has resorted to banning consumers who return too many purchases. Amazon famously begins with the consumer in mind; every step of the customer journey is designed to minimize friction and attenuate pain points. But the e-giant has an eye on the data and is flagging accounts who may be taking advantage of their benevolent policies.
No Soup for You
Imagine one Amazon customer’s surprise when he received an email in March alerting him that his account had been closed because he’d violated the retailer’s conditions of use agreement. When he finally got to the bottom of it, he was told his account was flagged for his unusually high return activity. He claims he returned just five items over the past year or so. Other customers similarly banned were given the same explanation. A woman who says she spends thousands of dollars a year on the site also found the e-store closed to her last month. The Wall Street Journal cited dozens of other Amazon shoppers complaining in online forums about being banned without any warning. At least one of the online shoppers non grata has figured out how to skirt the system and get back onto Amazon.
Although the company’s return policy is notoriously lenient, it appears even Amazon’s patience has its limits. It is unclear exactly how many returns trigger an account’s closure, or how often customers are banned, but Amazon claims it’s “rare”. The company’s bean counters are clearly watching the numbers and paying attention to data indicating who is costing the company the most. Amazon says
Some Assembly Required
Sometimes orders are fulfilled incorrectly. Other times, items don’t fit or reality doesn’t meet expectation (or even match the online description). But often, consumers who order flat-pack or knock down items with some assembly required are overwhelmed when they open the box. Ready-to-assemble products are on the rise, and retailers are finding that when it comes to returns, there is one factor that can make a significant difference in whether consumers decide it can stay: the assembly instructions. When the first few hours with a new product are spent trying to configure confusing parts or interpret images or instructions that don’t make sense, it is tempting to throw in the towel and send it back.
Compensate for Complications
There is a way to reduce assembly-related returns without banning customers: dramatically improve the consumer experience with BILT Intelligent Instructions®.
When customers are presented with 3D interactive instructions, etailers like Wayfair are finding the novelty of the improved experience can even overcome product defects. One recent review inside the BILT app even gave four stars to a product that “had broken parts, but assembly was a breeze.” Some consumers are so blown away they can’t wait to see what other products are on the BILT app. “THIS is how we should be using technology everyday! It took me longer to de-box the hardware than to completely assemble….I will tell my friends to look for products that have these assembly support guides!” Customers respond when brands provide an assembly experience to equal the quality of their products. The lifetime value of that kind of loyal brand ambassador cannot be overstated.
Download the free BILT app and see how Intelligent Instructions revolutionize the out-of-the-box experience.