This online trailblazer strives for standout, stellar customer service – including an easy returns process.
When it comes to customer service, RealTruck aims for amazing. That and innovation have been standard since day one.
RealTruck has grown fast since its beginnings – and is still winning customers.
The Jamestown, N.D.-based company was founded back in 1998 when many people said consumers would not purchase accessories for their truck, car or SUV over the Internet. But RealTruck proved skeptics wrong.
The company has grown fast since its beginnings – and is still winning over customers. Proof: It earned a spot on Inc. magazine's list of America's 5,000 fastest-growing companies for 2013. Just recently, RealTruck was listed in Internet Retailer’s Mobile 500 Guide as No. 304 of the largest mobile e-commerce websites, and as the 8th fastest-growing.
Room for improvement
As RealTruck grew, the staff realized that the cumbersome process for handling returns was falling short of customer expectations. Staff had to log in to the UPS website, enter the tracking number and the return label information, copy over the customer and vendor information, estimate the product's dimensions and weight, and select the shipping method for the customer.
Then there was follow-up. "With each return we might hit the customer with five e-mails over four weeks, looking for information," explains Debi Reberg, RealTruck's customer loyalty manager, or "director of happiness," as she calls it. The responsibility fell to the customer to make sure the item got returned. "We allowed seven days between e-mails, but at some points it felt like we were harassing the customer to get the item back."
Automation saves the day
In 2012 staff began working with UPS to look for a returns solution. RealTruck incorporated UPS Returns® and its application programming interface (API) so the RealTruck and UPS software could communicate with each other. Now RealTruck, not its customers, takes control of returns.
When a customer wants to return an item, whether it's as tiny as a light bulb or as heavy as a snowplow, RealTruck's employees create a return shipping label with a single click. The software pulls all of the required information from the original order automatically.
"We e-mail the label to the customer. They print it, tape it to the box and drop it off [at any UPS pickup site]," Reberg says. Once the package is picked up and scanned, the tracking number autofills on RealTruck's system and RealTruck can process the refund or exchange.
"Our customers appreciate the speed and accuracy of receiving their label. They are excited about using UPS, as there are so many places to drop off their package, adding to the convenience and reducing the 'hassle' of returning an item," Reberg says.
RealTruck used to offer a discount on return shipping. With the new, streamlined process, shipping is now offered free, a perk that sets the company apart from competitors. “While providing this service does impact our bottom line, it balances out with improved customer satisfaction," Reberg says.
The company has cut the time it takes to process a return from four weeks to four days. And without having to spend time pestering customers about returns, the customer service team at RealTruck saves one to two hours each day.
Reaching out to customers
Freeing up time means staff can focus on RealTruck's Serendipity Project, which provides the extra special customer service touch.
Examples: RealTruck sends items like personal thank you cards, T-shirts, caps or fuzzy dice to customers. And certain situations call for special deliveries. RealTruck sent chicken soup to a loyal customer who was sick and flowers to a customer whose truck was totaled, which left the customer amazed.
A recent transaction had one happy customer write: "This is one of the best online buying experiences I have ever had. RealTruck has a customer for life."
Statistics back up the anecdotes: RealTrucks's customer overall net loyalty and Customer Support Satisfaction Information from Bizrate went from 74 percent in 2012 to 77 percent in 2013 (with the industry average at 73 percent).
Reberg attributes the uptick in customer service satisfaction to the improved processes. "We feel that customers who are satisfied are good customers, and customers who are wowed are even better customers," Reberg says.
Pictured: RealTruck's Storm Truck (credit RealTruck).