6 Strategies to Reduce Post-Purchase Dissonance and Boost Customer Retention


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Customer satisfaction is one of the most important factors in building a successful eCommerce business. Ensuring customers are happy at every stage of their interactions with your company is essential to converting them into regular buyers.

Failure to prioritize these customer interactions can negatively affect post-purchase dissonance and customer retention rates, both of which can seriously harm a company’s eCommerce platform performance.

That’s why it’s important to address post-purchase dissonance, find out why it’s happening, and work out what you can do to stop it. Although adopting growth strategies for eCommerce can help, sometimes you need to turn your gaze inward.

This quick guide will help you deal with these issues and improve your customers’ online experiences.

What Is Post-Purchase Dissonance?

Post-purchase dissonance (or post-purchase stress) is a term used to describe a customer’s dissatisfaction after purchasing a product or service from a business’s eCommerce platform.

If the quality of a product or service fails to meet the customer’s expectations, they may become frustrated. This could lead to a formal complaint or a refund request, both of which should be actively avoided by any business with an online channel.

What Causes Post-Purchase Dissonance?

There are many causes of post-purchase dissonance, most of which can be avoided. For example, poor communication and/or a lack of available information across your eCommerce site can increase customer dissonance.

It’s important to understand why this is happening to your company and take the relevant steps to fight it. This can be done by reviewing click-through rates or studying bounce rates in Google Analytics. 

There’s a lot of companies can do to secure long-term custom and avoid dissatisfaction, which is why we’ve compiled this guide. Here are six helpful strategies to incorporate into your business to reduce post-purchase dissonance and boost customer lifecycle retention.

1. Pinpoint why it’s happening

It’s great you want to reduce post-purchase dissonance within your organization. However, there’s only so much you can do about this if you don’t take the necessary steps to understand why it’s happening. Having an in-depth understanding of why your customers may not be happy with their experience allows you to take action to tackle these issues.

For example, say an online clothing store discovers their previous customers are unhappy with the lack of communication from point of purchase to receive their item. The store could react to this by implementing stronger communication and customer experience trends. They could start sending regular updates on orders to let customers know when theirs will be dispatched and when it will be delivered.

This improvement would likely make new customers feel more comfortable ordering from this business and make them more inclined to re-order in the future. So, not only can one simple change reduce post-purchase dissonance, but it can increase customer retention rates too.

Image source: Tidio.com

2. Make your returns policy obvious to customers

Returns are never fun for a company. It’s not a good feeling knowing someone wasn’t happy with your product and had to send it back. The fact you may need to refund that customer doesn’t help. This is one of the biggest eCommerce challenges you need to learn to overcome.

Returns are a normal part of running a company and will always happen, so don’t make it difficult for customers to return their items if they need to. Doing so will only make them hesitant to re-order from your company due to the uncertainty, which will damage your customer retention rates.

You can only investigate whether there are any common reasons for returns and tackle these where possible. Perhaps many customers are ordering the wrong size of clothing because your size guide isn’t clear enough or your items are being damaged in the post, which could improve your packaging process. Additionally, make a document control to have a standardized process improvement to help businesses to store information about their processes in the cloud, helping to keep them both organized and accessible. 

Focus on the returns you can prevent, and remember some returns can’t be avoided.

3. Provide detailed product information

As noted above, one cause of post-purchase dissonance is a lack of information. If sufficient detail isn’t provided, customers won’t be fully informed about what they’re ordering and could be disappointed with what they receive.

The easiest way to avoid this is to provide full details throughout your online store. This means improving your product descriptions to ensure no surprises when your customer receives their order and ensuring no SEO duplicate content could be hindering search rates and returning inaccurate results.

For instance, if an online shoe store fails to mention a pair of boots is made from genuine leather, and someone orders them assuming they’re faux leather, this could cause immense distress that could have been avoided by including a full composition description.

So, before launching any new products on your online channels, clearly state the specifics. Review all existing items and make any necessary changes. This will cover your back and put your customers at ease.

Image source: Tidio.com

4. Improve your post-purchase communication flow

For a paying customer, there’s nothing more worrying than placing an order and not knowing when (or if) it’ll show up. If there’s no communication to make them aware their order has been received or tell them when it will be dispatched and delivered, it could cause anxiety and hesitance to interact with that company again.

The best way to get around this is to ensure you have solid communication throughout the ordering process. This means sending text and/or email updates to inform the customer everything is in place and their order is valued by your organization.

With the advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), it can be worth incorporating sales cycle management to eliminate repetitive tasks and hit your goals consistently.

Not only will it make your customers feel at ease knowing their order is being taken care of, but it will also make them more likely to become regular purchasers. People crave comfort and familiarity, so many will stick with a business they know will come through for them.

5. Focus on the visual appearance of deliveries

This may be at the back of your mind when processing orders. After all, the most important thing is that orders are coming through, right? Not necessarily!

Sure, receiving a lot of orders is a great sign. However, if you’re failing at everything after the initial purchase, your customer retention rates will plummet, and your returns will increase dramatically.

Improving your monolithic application approach, packaging processes, and equipment ensures your products’ safety during transit and can make your customer feel more enthusiastic about receiving their parcel. Function over form doesn’t always apply here.

6. Improve your overall customer service

This is the go-to solution for many problems faced by companies. Improving your overall customer service can be the answer to numerous issues and can help reduce post-purchase dissonance. Whether you need to improve your delivery speed or discover why learning Java can enhance your business, do whatever needs to be done.

Improving service across all business phases will allow you to tackle issues before they become serious. For instance, if a customer complains about a delivery, offer an exchange or refund straight away. This will let the customer know their custom is valued and you want them to shop with you again.

Always preempt what your customers may be thinking and act on that before they have to make a formal complaint. Upgrading your eCommerce customer service, for example, will build their trust in your business, and they’ll appreciate that you’re learning from your mistakes.

Image source: Pixabay

What Now?

You should now better understand what post-purchase dissonance is, why it happens, and how to tackle it. Importantly, the first step in resolving this is to find out why it’s occurring. From there, you can improve specific elements of your service and online platform to directly resolve these issues.

Whether you have to improve your communication processes or edit your website content and incorporate SEO for affiliate marketing, do your best to keep the customer in mind. They should be front and center throughout the entire interaction, so always ask yourself whether they’d find your service acceptable.

Go ahead and put what you’ve learned here into practice. It may take a few tries to get it right, but that’s all part of the process. Customers will be grateful you’re thinking of them and working to improve their experiences.

After all, you can’t expect to learn how to scale your business by putting customers on the back burner.

Jenna Bunnell
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways.


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