“Who is your tailor? Is that person utterly stupid or just malicious?"
These are harsh words. Words that would make any product designer cringe. But they are words that retailers need to hear if they want to keep improving.
The way you structure your Shopify Returns Policy and the fields you require will dictate the level of feedback you receive from shoppers returning a product.
The rules for what can be returned & exchanged so all customers are treated fairly. Return Types indicate if a product is being returned for refund, exchange, store credit, or warranty. Return Windows cover when those products can be returned. Return Reasons address the cause for the return.
But it is the Return Comment portion of a Shopify Returns Policy that is the most overlooked sources of customer intelligence that comes with a product return.
Return Reasons provide a great overview of why the item is being returned, but you can gather far more granular feedback from an open-ended comment.
In many cases, retailers' return policies do not require shoppers to leave these comments with returns. The perception is this will reduce some of the hassle for the shopper. But choosing to ignore this powerful step in the returns process leaves a lot of excellent information on the table.
Following a product launch, one of our retailers noticed consistent complaints about the feel of the fabric in return comments. This prompted their team to get to the bottom of the issue itself, in order to prevent it from occurring again.
But to take it to the next level, they used this experience to inform a reengagement campaign to win back some of these shoppers by asking them to give the remodeled item a second chance.
Shopper feedback comes from a multitude of sources. Return comments are a part of a complete view into what your shoppers are experiencing.
Feedback like this from shoppers is the best way to know what you’re doing well, and what could warrant some attention.
We've seen these comments tend to be very widely distributed – many are only a few words, but some nearly qualify as essays. The max is 530 words, though many of the highest are around 200 words.
We decided to look into these more verbose return comments, with the hypothesis that most would be from extremely upset shoppers seeking a channel to express their disappointment, while the minority would be from dedicated shoppers hoping to provide precise feedback on the product or experience.
We also theorized that the content of extensive comments would indicate of whether or not the shopper purchased again.
After examining some of the longest return comments for several retailers, we saw that this first notion was fairly accurate. The main discrepancy is that many of these lengthier comments do not seem to be angry.
The second hypothesis seems to hold true for the most abrasive comments. Almost none of those customers purchased since.
Some are scathing reviews, to say the least. These comments tend to have exact criticisms, but still might not be the most generalizable or actionable information – it may simply be an unhappy shopper. Some attack the design, materials, or even the retailer for making the product.
Here is a little sampling: (Warning: things get ugly, fast!)
“It is quite possibly the ugliest, drabbest, most sad dirty brown-pink color I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t want someone to bury me in that shirt let alone see me in it while alive”
“I cannot even begin to describe how utterly disappointed and shocked I am that you screwed up the world’s simplest thing - a silk shirt. Who is your tailor? Is that person utterly stupid or just malicious?"
For many of these shoppers, it denoted their last purchase with the brand.
But while these shoppers may truly be furious with the product or experience, that does not mean the relationship has to be ruined.
The most important thing is that these individuals feel heard, which is why they submitted such an extended and enraged return comment to begin with.
It’s worth noting that you will not delight every shopper, nor do you have to. But every product return indicates that the shopper’s expectation in some way did not match reality. There is a lesson behind each return, and it may simply be that expectations are misaligned.
So, if you can impress the shopper and save the relationship within reason, then that is the way to go.
Otherwise, even the most indignant of comments may yield some wisdom. Chances are good that the shopper’s disappointment does not have a singular point of origin.
Many comments have a composed tone and have thoughtful feedback. Some contain niceties such as “Dear Friends” or “Good day,” or even apologize for returning the product. Others express their fondness of the brand and their intention to shop again. A few even identify potential market opportunities.
These are your shoppers to engage. They feel some connection to your products or brand, and want to help make the experience better for themselves and for others.
Here are a few examples of comments from customer who care:
“Your clothes are amazing - quality excellent, and I own several pieces. I will try again. I really want to support your company.”
“I am sad to be returning this beautiful blouse. The fabric and color are gorgeous. The fault lies in the cut of the blouse. The armholes aren’t deep enough. As a result, even though the blouse fits overall, it pulls across the chest when I move my arms. Deep armholes are to me the sign of a high-quality garment. You have created a beautiful product in every aspect but the tailoring.”
You should make these shoppers feel appreciated. Pursue them, especially if they expressed interest in shopping with you in the future.
Though a return may not be the desired outcome for your business, appreciate this feedback. They just may offer some inspiration.
Ultimately, it is up to the retailer to decide whether or not to require return comments, or in which cases they should be required in their Shopify Returns Policy.
Adding a comment is a small additional step for the shopper, but it can contribute a useful perspective for the retailer. And depending on the retailer's return policy, this information may be missed entirely.
Even when shoppers are required to leave comments with product returns, they are certainly not required to input upwards of 500 words. These comments indicate an intense kind of passion or interest – either the shopper is very invested in your brand or is extremely upset.
No matter which case, lengthy return comments are a cue to investigate and engage the shopper. You may have a valuable shopper who is currently disappointment, or a fountain of actionable feedback.
To learn more about the key questions to ask that can lead to more customers repurchasing, check out our guide: 6 Key Questions to Retain More Customers.