How to increase customer retention with a great post-purchase experience

Are you giving your customers the best post-purchase journeys possible? Learn how to (and keep them spending) with this guide from Profusion’s Emma Church

Why is a top-class post-purchase customer experience so very important to your business?

As Brandwatch explains in a 2018 study:

“Effective post-purchase communication contributes to higher customer retention rates. It keeps the conversation going with your customers after they leave the purchase environment, strengthens the relationship with your brand, and helps inspire brand loyalty.”

Furthermore …

  • Only 18% of businesses focus on retention
  • 50% of consumers feel buyer’s remorse after a purchase
  • Customer acquisition costs 5x more than it costs to retain customers
  • A new customer is 5%–20% likely to make a purchase, while existing customers are 60%–70%
  • Increasing customer retention rates by 5% leads to an increase in profits of at least 25%.

Linked to the above comes this nugget from a recent research piece by PwC: “Companies that invest in and deliver superior experiences to both consumers and employees are able to charge a premium of as much as 16% for their products and services”.

How to approach the post-purchase experience

Whether you’re developing a post-purchase journey from scratch or optimising your current one, advance planning is critical to success.

Marketers may think they need to invest in primary (customer) research and/or secondary analytics to develop an effective understanding of customer journeys. But we recognise this can be expensive and time consuming, and that not everyone has easy access to their analytic data.

So while that would be the ideal, the process can instead be fast-tracked by using structured internal workshops with a range of employees and business functions. If possible, you might then want to test your ideas and hypotheses through a customer focus group.

For now, let’s focus on some inspirational post-purchase, customer aftercare essentials to keep customers coming back for more.

1. Anticipate customer behaviour

 Is this excitement, anticipation of receiving their purchase or regretful and needing reassurance?

The basics: A simple yet great big ‘thank you’ with your order confirmation will go a long way to building loyalty.

ASOS provides a super positive purchase affirmation using a language and tone that is nurturing and reassuring. It also gets the basics right with clear confirmation of what you ordered and where it’s being delivered.

You can help reduce post-purchase anxiety by ensuring your customer is fully aware of your refund policy and returns process. Again, ASOS does this well:

2. The dispatch note

This can be personalised based on what was purchased, which ASOS achieves nicely. In the below examples, ‘David’ gets ‘style in a bag’ whereas ‘Bianca’ receives a ‘fashion forward’ dispatch email. ‘Need help?’ is clearly boxed within the email, providing reassurance while cleverly leading customers back on site to shop some more through a hyperlink.

3. The delivery experience

As a business, it’s worth investing in the most important part of the post-purchase journey because customers like to know what’s happening with their stuff!

4. Receipts and invoices

 Consider these fundamentals as a marketing opportunity if marketing permissions allow.  Your email receipts offer ways to upsell related products, solicit feedback, promote in-store events, advertise your social media profiles and more. This includes physical and e-receipts.

Chick-fil-A has an effective way of using receipts to incentivise customer feedback and ratings. It’s also strategic because many customers are likely to buy more with their free chicken sandwich.

5. ‘How to’ guides, product care tips and warranties

Depending on your business, any extra information that helps customers with a purchase is deeply welcomed – even if it’s just on high priority/frequent/high value items. As above, it reassures the customer that they have made the right choice and reduces the risk of returns. It can also be delivered across any digital channel.

6. Satisfaction feedback/post-purchase review

As we well know, a high rating and positive review content gives customers peace of mind and confirmation that they’re making the right purchase decision. And a large number of reviews adds further validity to the overall rating of a business. Equally as important, this feedback helps you continuously improve on the customer experience.

What’s more, if you can identify a high rating it might be worth making the most of it to build out your social influencer base.

7. Give back

Here’s another nice tactic for building your social influencer database – thank customers who provide feedback by offering them an incentive. You can use what they tell you to provide social proof and reaffirm customers’ decisions to buy from you.

This is a good example from Revolution Tea, which is  delighted to see that 94% of its customers would recommend them to a friend:

8. Replenishment reminders

Based on the lifecycle of a purchase, it makes sense to encourage repeat buying through data driven insights – or simply ask customers when they want to reorder. Either way, the icing on the cake would be to offer an incentive for doing so!

Clinique adds a little humour in this example:

You could also consider adding automated redelivery:


Ask your customers when they want to hear from you again. This allows you to better target future communication when the customer is more likely to be ready to repurchase and makes the customer feel you have listened to them. This example below, from a major retail bank, has led to a 100% increase in email engagement compared with its regular insurance communications:

9. Reward to return

Email first-time purchasers with a ‘surprise and delight’ moment. Reward to return also works for customers in other stages of their lifecycle with you, for instance sudden spend increase (loyalty), anniversary (lifetime value), and not spent in a while (re-engagement)

Consider developing the broadest range of possible rewards for customers at the initial brainstorm. This way you can test and evaluate how a range of rewards impacts redemption and incremental sales – some will work better than others but continue testing and keep it fresh and original. Ideally this will get and keep customers talking and buying.

10. Complementary product recommendations

Without a recommendation engine, prediction and propensity models, the item a customer has just purchased is enough to start personalising emails with complementary products. Customers who bought this also bought or frequently bought together.

Personalisation should be at the heart of your post-purchase customer experience. Always think: “What can I personalise and where?”

11. Timing

A key factor that underpins all this communication is timing – if you can utilise customer data to better understand the customer lifecycle. You will be able to better target your communication at a time that is right for them. For example, understanding delivery cycle and when a customer is likely to have decided on keeping or returning an item allows you to better target your request for a post purchase review.

This leads nicely to a little more on the importance of investing in ‘knowing’ your customers … 

Our friends at Monetate produced an insightful study with WBR Research, looking at personalisation in the market. The main takeaway is that investing in personalisation reaps rewards. Your post-purchase journey should contain all the essentials but also be the most appropriate message, at the most appropriate time, through the most appropriate channel for each individual customer. Indeed, 86% of companies that are achieving high ROI (2x or greater) reported that personalisation made up 21% or more of their marketing budget.

Fun and engaging post-purchase quizzes provide an effective platform to gather potential sources of new data and insights to inform personalisation and targeting. These work best when integrated with a reward offer.

Now for a quick post-purchase round up …

So, investing in customer research to optimise journeys, enhance personalisation and track customer satisfaction is the starting point of designing and developing a wonderful post-purchase customer experience.

Internally, invest in designing a workshop. This will be your platform for brainstorming, interactive learning, knowledge sharing and problem solving with all the important channel stakeholders. The objective? To achieve buy-in in one sitting. From experience, the workshop approach drives the biggest and most effective outcome and customer journey mapping is an essential ingredient.

You might choose to facilitate this workshop yourself or bring in a one of our consultants to do it for you. Get in touch to find out about Profusion’s customer journey mapping workshops!

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Emma Church

Senior Consultant

Senior Consultant and Team Lead @ Profusion. Passionate curator of personalised customer journeys powered by data; experienced in transforming the power of data into meaningful insights for my clients. Devoted mum of two! Chair of Seal St Lawrence preschool and Spanish language teacher at St Lawrence CEP School.


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