How to Reduce Buyers Remorse

imageHave you noticed that the political pundits have been using the term “Buyers Remorse” in relation to how Wall Street Democrats feel about putting Obama in the White House?   I’m not sure that it’s a good idea to mix references to regrets in purchasing with voting — but that’s another story.  These recent references made me realize that all customers go through some sense of regret after they’ve made a purchase.

Just to make sure that we are talking about the same thing.  Buyers remorse refers to the emotional response in the consumer after a purchase is made.  The higher the price and the higher the involvement in a purchase, the higher the potential for buyers remorse.

Yet, most businesses like to look the other way and pretend that this doesn’t happen or doesn’t have that much of an impact on their business — let alone measure it.  But don’t be fooled.  Buyers remorse is real and if you don’t track it, it will come back to bite you.

Where to Start Looking

The most obvious place to start is with your customer lists.  Run a report that gives you a list of your customers and sales by customer over the last five years.  Now compare one year to the next and look for which customers are no longer on your list or which customers have stopped purchasing one product or another.  Look for people that only made one purchase or look for people who have been loyal customers and then dropped off.

This is a golden opportunity to start digging into what their experience was and why they chose not to purchase again.  Depending on the size of this list of departed customers, you may choose to call them directly (I recommend that) or if it’s a large list, you can create a feedback survey and send them an invitation to tell you what happened.

What Buyers Remorse Looks Like in the Car Business

Remember, the higher the price and the higher the emotional involvement, the higher the potential for buyers remorse.  In the car business, buyers remorse can take the form of being disappointed in the actual purchasing event or worse, it can become a growing disappointment as customers actually LIVE with the consequences of their purchase.  For example, 17% of the people who purchased new cars during the “cash for clunkers” program now say that they regret their purchase.  Mostly because of having a car payment that they didn’t have before as well as increased insurance costs.  About 6% to 8% of car buyers feel some level of regret within a month of their purchase.

There is a Goldmine of Opportunity in This Data

While it can be appealing to not ask questions and take the money and run.  There is profitable gold in mining what causes buyers remorse in your customers.  It doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.  You only need to care enough to put some triggers and elements in place to grab that feedback.

  • If your product or service is sold face-to-face, train your sales people to help customers make a decision that they can live with.  Provide a guarantee or a risk-free option that makes it easy for them to make the purchase AND to come back and return it if they are unsatisfied or have second thoughts.
  • Actually talk about regrets and second thoughts while customers are thinking about the purchase.  If they’ve had the conversation, they will be less likely to have regrets later.
  • Grab their e-mail and send them a survey within 24 hours.
  • Create a space on your web site (on every page) where visitors can easily give you their thoughts while they are having an experience.

Buyers remorse is a given.  So don’t look the other way.  Use this potential for customer regret as an opportunity to help them make a decision they are happy with.  After the sale is done, stay in touch with them and give them lots of ways to reach out to you.  This opportunity to reverse their decision will actually solidify their choice of purchase and have them come back for more.

What have been your experiences with buyers remorse and how have you solved them?