Clarity, Transparency, Flexibility and Service. I believe these are the attributes of successful continuity and auto-ship campaigns. But those words don’t sum up many of today’s continuity and auto-ship programs today, nor did they 20 years ago.
I was first introduced to continuity programs during the heyday of direct mail. I had the opportunity to be part of the fulfillment team designing to see many marketers with a variety of concepts of home to sell, and fulfill continuity and auto ship programs. At that time, consumers had very little flexibility in service. Most processes took place by mail or by phone and consumer driven parameters were limited to change of address or updating a credit card number.
Additionally many marketers, fearing high attrition rates would do a number of techniques to suppress the consumer’s ability to leave a program. Difficult cancellation instructions and even using packaging, like core-seal, which sandwiches two pieces of cardboard together with a rubber cement compound, would self-destruct on opening and would insure you couldn’t use the package to return the items.
But today it’s much different. Consumers have unprecedented selections and choices available and no longer can companies expect good results from spotty services. To be successful business must cater their services even more directly to the consumers’ needs in a fast, efficient and friendly way. Here are a few areas to focus in on to ensure a well maintained program.
Clarity of Message
You can maximize your retention in your continuity program by being clear with the auto-ship or continuity programs terms and conditions. This will not only help the consumer but reduce the number of charge backs from confused customers.
In many auto-ship programs we employ advance release emails to inform customers of their upcoming shipment and allow them to modify, add to, or suspend their shipment before it is potentially rejected by the customer. Giving the customer the ability to reach you easily via phone or from a website will increase loyalty to the core customers and enhance reorders.
Additionally, self-service transactions for auto-ship and continuity programs, accessible from the web or through a call center, can help the consumer make changes for normal day-to-day interactions. For instance transactions like suspending a nutraceuticals shipment for period of days, change of address, and update of a credit card number and adding a new product to your continuity program. Even the ability to cancel the program, can be offered. Many of our clients best customers are one-shot purchasers who would rather not join the continuity program, but will purchase at will.
Having accessible, easy to reach service with your email, contact center, and self-service can enhance consumer loyalty and tangibly benefit your bottom line. It makes good sense to. A well put together auto-ship or continuity program will insure that the different types of transactions from changes in service timing, to products, to simple address and payment changes, are easy to do and accessible anytime.
Smart planning will help you achieve the best results from your continuity program.