June 3, 2015

Unhappy customers are never good for your ecommerce business—they will reflect poorly on your brand and will ultimately reduce your total profit. Occasionally, a consumer will be dissatisfied with your product or feel remorse following a purchase. This unfortunate situation is called cognitive dissonance. Keep reading for simple tips for how to keep your customers happy.

What is cognitive dissonance?

Have you ever bought something you were genuinely excited about, but you began to regret your purchase a few days later? Did you buy the pink shirt, but wish you’d bought it in purple? Then you’ve experienced a case of cognitive dissonance. It’s essentially customer dissatisfaction, the mental stress and regret felt by a customer following a purchase. Cognitive dissonance is a common phenomenon and will lead to negative feedback that will damage your brand and decrease your profit. Luckily, it can easily be avoided and we’re sharing how.

How to avoid cognitive dissonance.

1. Under-promise and over-deliver

You definitely want to market the high value of your product or else no one will buy it! However, do not over-promise. Be realistic about shipping and be honest about each feature. Customers will be upset when their t-shirt does not have all the unrealistic qualities that it was advertised to have. Not only will they be disappointed, they will also be frustrated and angry. It’s likely someone will write a bad review that will make both you and your product look bad. Over-promising will often damage your personal reputation for it reflects poorly on your credibility as a seller.

So, advertise the positive features of your product, but leave a little room to impress your customers when they receive it. This is great for positive feedback—you want people saying things like “the shirt was even softer than I expected!” or “the colors were even more vibrant!”.

2. Make the consumer’s expectations clear

When selling a t-shirt, make sure the description and details are 100% accurate–no ambiguity, no false promises, and no embellishments. If buyers know what to expect, there is a much smaller chance that they will regret their purchase once they receive it. You don’t want there to be any surprises when a customer opens their package in the mail. Unless, of course, the shirt is just a little bit better than expected.

3. Limit the number of choices for the consumer

One of the main indicators of cognitive stress is when customers keep wondering about their other options. Even if the product meets or exceeds their expectations, buyers will still question their decision if they were given too many options. When they wear their custom forest green t-shirt, they will probably love it, but their mind might still wander to the kelly green version… You want a purchaser to fall in love with a product immediately after it’s received, not wonder what could have been with a different color.

For a GearLaunch campaign, we recommend two to three colors per item to provide customers with the perfect number of options.

Overwhelming customers with too many choices can even prevent the entire purchase from happening. A multitude of options can lead to analysis paralysis, when an individual overanalyzes something to the extent where no action is taken. A consumer might be so overwhelmed and conflicted that he or she doesn’t end up purchasing anything.

4. Create diversity between separate products

If you’re interested in developing your own style as a seller and designer, some level of similarity between your products is necessary. However, if two or more products are too alike, customers might experience the same doubts like they do when given too many options. They may love their new shirt, but if another one is too similar, they might ask, “why didn’t I buy the other one?” If each of your products is different enough, buyers will be more confident that their choice was the right one. They might even buy multiple products!

5. Post-purchase communication

Checking in on your customers is necessary for you to become aware of any cognitive dissonance. You must then acknowledge this customer dissatisfaction and act on it. The “5 A’s” are a good way to communicate with your buyers. First, awareness. Always be aware of possibilities for error or dissatisfaction so that you can avoid issues in the first place. Second, acknowledge. When something does go wrong, recognize the issue and make sure the consumer knows he or she is being acknowledged. Third, apologize. Admit that there was a problem and that you may have made a mistake. Fourth, analyze. Examine the situation and learn from your mistake so you can improve your customer service. Fifth, additional compensation. Consider additional efforts you can make to compensate for the problem, a refund being the simplest example.

Through utilizing these strategies, you’re sure to achieve customer satisfaction. Your buyers won’t be surprised, disappointed, or remorseful when their t-shirt comes in the mail. Instead, they’ll be content and confident that they made the right choice.

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