Survey: NFF returns of electronic devices can be prevented

2019 Survey: NFF Returns of Consumer Electronics

More consumers than ever are sending back fully functioning electronic products. This No Fault Found phenomenon is costing companies a fortune – how can they address the issue of NFF returns?

Sara Turner was looking forward to receiving her new espresso machine. But when she opened the box, she was confused and dismayed to see that the machine was different than expected – there was no milk frother. She checked her order and realized that the online image of a nice frothy cappuccino was for illustration only. Sigh. No coffee today.

Her husband Mike was just as excited to open his package. He was looking forward to saving money with his new smart thermostat. However, he immediately felt overwhelmed by the multi-step installation instructions.  He called customer services, who repeated the same instructions he’d just read in the manual – and he still couldn’t make heads or tails of them. Oh well. Back to the store.

2019 Survey: NFF Returns

TechSee, a global leader in visual customer assistance powered by AI and Augmented Reality, has released the results of a study on consumer behavior when returning non-defective electronic devices, revealing some eye-opening findings.

The survey demonstrates that 41 percent of us have returned a non-defective item in the past 12 months. Global professional service consultants estimate that such returns account for more than $17 billion in lost annual revenues for brick-and-mortar and online retailers.

The study also revealed that 65 percent of respondents decided to return non-defective electronics early on, citing frustration or confusion during product unboxing, installation, and first use.

Consumers most often returned small home appliances, such as blenders and coffee machines (28.5 percent) followed by entertainment products, including speakers, TVs, and gaming consoles (25.2 percent), small gadgets (20.3 percent), phones and tablets (15 percent), major appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators (5.7 percent), and home office products (4.8 percent).

NFF returns are rampant

The prevalence of consumer returns of non-defective electronic devices represents a massive pain point for brands and retailers, with Accenture reporting back in 2011 that 68% of all consumer electronics (CE) returns fall under the umbrella of No Fault Found (NFF), situations when an item is returned despite functioning properly.

Good customer service can prevent returns

54% of consumers agreed that they would return a product if they found it difficult to install, while nearly 70% said they would also return it if they found it hard to operate, suggesting customer support is a critical component in lowering NFF returns.

In fact, 72 percent of those polled stated that good customer service would dissuade them from returning a product. This underscores that more positive unboxing and customer service experiences – both immediately post-purchase and on an ongoing basis – have the power to influence whether the device will be returned.

Visual experiences are vital

Many participants expressing a propensity to return products also stated they had never seen or interacted with a product they’d returned – physically or virtually via video or augmented reality – prior to purchasing; only 16% claimed they’d had the ability to “try before they buy.”

When seeing or interacting live with a product is not possible or convenient, video has emerged as an effective alternative. With the right features and capabilities, video can offer users a more engaging and interactive experience, during initial setup, configuration, troubleshooting or for regular maintenance, as this short video demonstrates.

Video and augmented reality are effective technologies to help prevent returns

45% of consumers state that watching a product video will dissuade them from returning a product and 44% say the same for a live video streaming session with an expert.

Visual Assistance powered by augmented reality (AR) can make the unboxing, installation and activation process even more intuitive by delivering a new level of visual customer assistance. This technology is considered more effective than product videos, as it is more personalized and applies to the customer’s actual environment, incorporating interactive feedback and the ability to correct the customer when needed.

With Gartner predicting that by 2020, 85% of consumers will manage their brand interactions without the input of a human agent, advanced customer self-service solutions – such as AI-driven mobile visual guidance – are more important than ever.

Combining video and augmented reality with customer service excellence, by empowering customers to visualize their products before purchase and receive assistance during the post-purchase period, will go a long way towards reducing NFF returns.

TechSee polled more than 3,000 U.S. consumers for the census-weighted study, interviewing men and women aged 18 to 60 of varying incomes, education levels, and geographic locations.

Download the full results of this groundbreaking survey here, and get your hands on a stunning infographic presenting the headline findings here.

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