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How to prevent and reduce post-purchase dissonance for boosted conversions?

You’ve finally made the purchase contemplated for weeks, months or even years. The excitement of getting that much-talked-about gadget, the perfect decor for your new living room, or that trendy summer dress is palpable. But weirdly enough, a few days pass, and something begins to nag at the back of your mind. 

You begin to wonder, sometimes loudly, if you’ve made the right buying choice. Should I have waited? Or chosen a different brand altogether? Whatever plays out in your mind now is known as post-purchase dissonance, and your customers develop this feeling post-purchase sometimes too. 

How can you tackle this and make your customers more content with their purchases? Read on!

What is post-purchase dissonance?

Post-purchase dissonance, also known as buyer’s remorse, is a psychological phenomenon where a buyer begins to experience doubt or regrets about their buying decision after purchase. It is often the case when the customer is uncertain they made the right decision or feels their expectations were unmet, leading to requests for returns, refunds, etc. 

The importance of addressing post-purchase dissonance

If not properly handled, post-purchase dissonance can have adverse effects on a business’s customer retention rates. A study by Accenture showed that 91% of customers who experienced a high level of dissonance after purchase stopped patronizing the business. If you recognize customer retention’s importance, you will prioritize reducing post-purchase dissonance among your customers. It is so important that increasing customer retention rates by as little as 5% can potentially increase profits by 25% to 95%. Growth-driven businesses are encouraged to focus on customer retention efforts, such as reducing post-purchase dissonance among customers. 

Zappos, a popular online store and clothing retailer, for instance, offers free shipping and a 365-day return policy on all orders, giving customers ample time to try out their products and return if unsatisfied. Creating a return policy like this is only logical, considering that 92% of consumers will consider buying again from a retailer with a hassle-free return policy. Seeing how invested Zappos is in reducing post-purchase dissonance and improving customer satisfaction, it is, perhaps, not surprising that 75% of her purchases have come from repeat customers.

Apple takes a different approach to this. They have a comprehensive customer service experience, including support lines that help customers resolve any issues that may develop on their devices. This way, fewer people worry about splashing thousands of dollars on a new Apple device when they could have snapped up an Android device for some hundred.

Examples of Post Purchase Dissonance

The following are examples of different forms or ways by which post-purchase dissonance may come:

  • Giving a poor rating

Disgruntled clients may leave a low rating or a bad product review on your website or other business ranking platforms. Negative comments and one-star ratings can turn off prospective clients.

  • Demanding a refund

If customers feel that the service or product they got is not worth what they paid, they can demand a refund. This strains your customer service as they try to pacify the client and find a solution. Your business may end up losing revenue.

  • Cutting of communication

Post-purchase dissonance can manifest in customers ignoring your marketing team and being unresponsive to emails or calls. Such clients refuse to offer feedback and may show no interest in learning about other products from your business.

  • Canceling a subscription

Dissatisfied buyers are unlikely to continue using your services. They may simply stop renewing their subscription. 

  • Urging others to avoid your company

People can recommend a business to their close ones or others on social media when they like a product or service. But the opposite is also true. If clients are not contented, they may advise friends and family to avoid purchasing from your company. 


What leads to post-purchase dissonance among customers?

There are several reasons why a purchase may leave a bad taste in a customer’s mouth. Some may or may not be the business’s fault. For example, a customer may simply regret a purchase decision because he sees his peers have purchased something better, or because he feels the necessity to prioritize some other needs first. In other cases, a customer can develop post-purchase regrets if he:

  • Feels that the purchase does not meet expectations in terms of quality and/or performance;
  • Begins to see several negative reviews of the product or your brand after buying;
  • Feels that the product lacks certain features and benefits he had initially thought it had;
  • Observes that the product does not look or perform as advertised, that is, false representation in an advertisement;
  • Discovers that the product has dangerous ingredients;
  • Unwraps a defective or damaged product upon delivery;
  • Experiences a delay in delivery and can’t track the shipment;
  • Finds a better deal elsewhere;
  • Discovers that the product is incompatible with products he already owns. This is common with electronic purchases;
  • Finds it difficult to assemble the product and has no manuals or guides to work with.

How to prevent and reduce post-purchase dissonance?

Having learnt how post-purchase dissonance can do harm to your business, you are probably wondering how to prevent or reduce the probability of your customers developing the feeling. Here’s what to do!

  • Ensure high product quality

One of the major causes of post-purchase dissonance is products or services that are low quality, damaged, or appear different from what a client ordered. Receiving a defective item kills the client’s excitement about the product and results in instant regret. Thus, delivering high-quality products is key to preventing post-purchase dissonance.  

  • Provide accurate product information 

You can manage your customer’s expectations by providing accurate product information. Do not write that a headset has a 40-hour playing time when you can only get 30 hours. Or feed the customer with half information. For instance, write in a rechargeable lamp’s description that it can last 7 hours if fully charged, when it is only possible at the lowest brightness level. 

  • Provide real-time order tracking & notifications 

Providing customers transparency into the order fulfillment process does a good job of reducing post-purchase dissonance. Dominos pizza understands this concept and gives customers real-time updates on their delivery status. 

With a delivery management platform like Trackingmore integrated into your workflow, shoppers can automatically track their orders in real time, foresee delays, and plan appropriately. 

This way, the customers worry less about their package getting lost or staying too long at a shipping facility before dispatch. Users even enjoy real-time SMS and push notifications on the product’s delivery status. 

  • Provide estimated delivery date 

The expected delivery date greatly affects a client’s purchase decision. If they do not know when a product will arrive, they are less likely to buy it. This is because a delivery date allows a customer to determine if the item’s arrival date will suit its intended purpose. Then, ensure you display an expected delivery date, stick to it, and give a reason in advance for any delays. 

  • Optimize the unboxing experience 

First impressions matter, and since unboxing is the first time a client interacts with the product, it should be memorable. Creating an impressive unboxing experience gives the customer a culmination of their excitement. The most popular way is via custom or themed packaging. You can also add a thank you note, a free product sample, or share a ‘where your product has been’ journey. 

  • Develop a reasonable yet attractive return policy

A fair return policy reassures clients that they will not lose their money if the product is not what they need or expect. This is especially true if it is their first time buying the item. For example, Zappos has a 365-day return policy. 

However, ensure the policy does not disadvantage your company and lead to revenue loss. It should be fair to the client while simultaneously protecting your sales margins. Also, ensure customers can easily access and understand your refund policy.

  • Make exchange recommendations

Rather than offering a cash-back refund policy only, you can compensate clients who return products in other ways. For example, offering store credit, allowing them to select a different product, or giving gift cards. Occasionally, a buyer may want to return a product because they were unable to use it. In such scenarios, you can offer to help them learn how to use it. Flexible exchange recommendations can alleviate post-purchase dissonance.

  • Provide social proof

Features multiple testimonials and reviews highlighting how useful a product in your store is and how satisfied customers have been with it. This reassures customers that they have made a good choice and reduces the likelihood of post-purchase dissonance. Sephora is one brand that embodies this. It features multiple reviews on its website so customers can be more confident in their purchase decisions.

  • Find out the reasons for post-purchase dissonance

The ideal way to do this is by requesting client feedback. Only they can tell you what they didn’t like about their purchase, plus asking for feedback enhances your brand reputation. You can also discover the root cause by reviewing your marketing and sales processes to identify weak points. 

Increase your customer retention rates by reducing post-purchase regrets

Post-purchase time is an often overlooked yet critical time of every buying journey. At this buying stage, customers begin to evaluate their experience with their purchase and the brand. This can make or mar their impression of the brand and influence their likelihood of purchasing or recommending it to others.

Therefore, you should engage them during this period and ensure they are satisfied with their order and service delivery. We have drafted a list of what leads to post-purchase dissonance and how to tackle them, hoping that you learn enough to boost your conversions and customer retention rates.