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What is Post Purchase Dissonance?

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What is Post Purchase Dissonance?

Depending on the industry your business belongs to, acquiring new customers can turn out to be 10 - 20 times more costlier than retaining existing customers. To further effectively retain customers, a good post-purchase experience is an absolute must. Any level of shortcoming could bring about a certain level of dissatisfaction to the customer, this is also referred to as post purchase dissonance.

Post-purchase cognitive dissonance is something brands should prioritize above everything else. Reducing customer dissatisfaction levels can help businesses greatly increase not only their retention rates but also their brand image.

In this article, we'll delve deeper into understanding the nuances of post purchase dissonance as well as post purchase behaviour. We'll also take a look at how brands can reduce post purchase dissonance.

Post Purchase Dissonance: What Is It?

As mentioned above, the dissatisfaction or a feeling of regret in regard to a customer's purchase from a retail/online store is referred to as Post Purchase Dissonance. For brands, ensuring customer satisfaction levels never plummet is extremely critical.

To explain it in further detail, it is the mental (cognitive) discomfort experienced by customers after purchasing a product. This often leads to customers wanting to return the products, or wanting a replacement/refund.

To avoid this, it should be understood that post-purchase cognitive dissonance can be caused by a multitude of factors, some of them being:

  • Poor Product Quality - Poor quality products can cause high levels of customer dissatisfaction and can negatively impact a customer’s post purchase behaviour. Especially when brands put up misleading descriptions, and pictures and make false claims about the product.
  • Better Price - Customers typically regret the purchase when they find out that they could have bought the same product for a far more reasonable price. This also happens when customers find out about other websites or brands that offer huge discounts for the same product. Hence brands must always ensure that they offer products at a reasonable price, furthermore, brands can also offer a price guarantee that they will refund the difference amount if the customers were to find the same product offered at a lower price on the internet.
  • Ordered Wrong Product - In these cases, typically, there is nothing wrong with the product. More often than not, it has to do with a customer ordering the wrong product or the wrong product size for themselves. Although this is not the fault of the brand, brands can use this as an opportunity to improve customer satisfaction levels. For example, brands can offer replacement products if the customer reaches out to them within a certain timeframe.
  • High Involvement Purchases - one more important cause of post purchase dissonance involves purchases that have a high level of personal commitment or emotion attached to them. This could be huge financial investments such as purchasing a vehicle or a house.
  • Impulse Purchases - These purchases are typically done with a false sense of urgency and without it a thought. These purchases could also be influenced by alcohol or drugs which means the customer would not have ordered the product if he was sober.
  • Outside Influence - Remember a customer’s post purchase behaviour can also be influenced by their friends and family. Constant negative feedback about products can influence customers to think the same way and doubt the integrity of the product as well as the brand.

Customers can experience post purchase dissonance anytime until the return policy window ends. It is important for brands to prioritize post-purchase cognitive dissonance to keep the customers returning to them, time and time again. Failure to do so can put customers off, this could further lead to a steep drop in customer retention rates.

Here are a few examples of post purchase dissonance:

Buyer's Remorse - this usually happens when a customer regrets their purchase decisions.

Poor Product Quality Performance - this type of dissatisfaction is experienced when customers receive products that underperform or don't leave up to the proclaimed abilities.

Information Overload - this happens when customers encounter an overwhelmingly large amount of information which ends up confusing them. This uncertainty in thought can lead to customers questioning their purchases. This can negatively impact a customer's post purchase behaviour.

Reasons for Understanding Post Purchase Cognitive Dissonance

Understanding the post-purchase cognitive dissonance is important for the following reasons:

Post purchase cognitive dissonance can have a huge effect on customer satisfaction rates and a positive customer experience can greatly reduce cognitive dissonance levels. By understanding the causes brands can improve the product and modify strategies for an improved experience.

It can help in improving customer loyalty and retention rates. By understanding the causes for cognitive dissonance, brands can use that information to improve the process as well as boost customer retention rates.

The data gathered in regard to customer post-purchase cognitive dissonance rates can also be used for product development as well as improving marketing strategies.

Reducing Post Purchase Dissonance

It cannot be emphasized enough that post purchase dissonance is extremely important as it plays an extremely vital part in improving customer satisfaction rates as well as retention rates. Here are a few things that brands can do to reduce the post purchase dissonance rates.

Be Transparent about the Brand’s Return Policy

Remember being transparent about the brand's return policy is important. It gives the customer an idea of what to do in case the product does not meet their expectations, by doing so even if the product disappoints the customers the option to return it or replace it can still improve customer satisfaction rates.

Provide Accurate Information

Offering customers accurate and detailed information about the product can go long way. While providing the product information, remember to include specifications about the product, images, related videos, and a detailed guide on how to use it. Being transparent and providing accurate information about the product can help customers get an idea of what to expect from the product.

Keeping Expectations Realistic

This is pretty much a follow up point of the previous one, while providing product information businesses must make sure they do not include any misleading claims or exaggerated descriptions that could potentially lead to unrealistic expectations. To avoid the same, providing accurate and non exaggerated product descriptions is crucial. This further eliminates the possibility of customers having false hopes and helps them evaluate whether or not, if they actually need the product.

Conduct an Evaluation to Find Out the Cause of Post Purchase Dissonance

One of the simplest yet most effective things you can do is conduct a thorough analysis of your customers’ purchasing process as well as their post purchase behaviour to understand the root cause of post purchase dissonance. With that information brands can further modify the product or the process to further please customers. This method is a sure shot way to reduce post purchase dissonance.

Customer Support

Offering customers a responsive support system is pretty important. Brands that offer multiple channels such as email, phone, live chat and more for customer support tend to have reduced post purchase dissonance rates. This is because one of the best ways to reduce post purchase dissonance is by addressing customers’ concerns and queries in a swift and prompt manner, doing so helps in creating positive post purchase behaviours in customers.

Post Purchase Emails

Post purchase emails can be quite helpful in increasing brand loyalty. Brand should always follow up with the customers to enquire about their purchase experience as well as the product experience. In addition to that, brands should also proactively offer tips and pointers and how to make the most of their purchase. After that they could request the customers to offer feedback to further help improve the product and the purchasing process.

Smoothen the Return Process

As mentioned before, there are times when the product itself could disappoint the customer and yet brands can offer a positive customer experience and improve customer satisfaction rates. One of the ways to do the same is to improve the brand's product return experience. For starters, brands can give customers access to self service portals. Here customers can apply and initiate the return process as well as get more store credits. By simplifying the process of returning or replacing the product, brands can improve the customer satisfaction rates as well as increase brand loyalty.

Positive Customer Feedback

Brands that showcase genuine customer feedback and reviews give customers the chance to get an idea of what they are purchasing. Having positive feedback greatly helps in encouraging customers to make a purchase. On the other hand, legitimate negative feedback can be used to improve the product, which can further help demonstrate the fact that the brand actually listens to its customers.

These are some of the things you must keep in mind to reduce post-purchase dissonance. Additionally, there are strategies that can be put in place to improve customer satisfaction rates and reduce post purchase dissonance, some of them are:

Using advertisements that showcase happy and satisfied customers.

Cash back guarantee

Positive customer feedback

Multi-channel customer service

Post purchase emails

Feedback forms

Post Purchase Dissonance: Benefits

It goes without saying that there are multiple benefits that a brand can get from reduced post purchase dissonance. Here are benefits that online stores reap from it:

Improved Customer Retention Rates

Reduction in post purchase dissonance can greatly improve a customer's post purchase behaviour. This can potentially lead to the customer coming back to the brand for future purchases, thus increasing customer attention rates as well as improving brand loyalty.

Offers Competitive Edge

When brands focus on reducing and eliminating post-purchase cognitive dissonance it also gives brands a competitive edge in the field. Simplified returns, transparent policies, accurate product descriptions, realistic product expectations, a product that accurately matches the descriptions, and most importantly effective customer support can help a brand set itself apart from the rest of the competition and stand out as one of the top choices for customers.

Boost in Sales and Revenue

It is quite evidence that increased customer retention rates can lead to increased sales as well as a boost in revenue. Moreover, when brands focus on how to reduce post purchase dissonance and retain customers they spend less money as compared to when they are acquiring new customers. When customers come back on a regular basis to make purchases it increases the volume of sales, this can also give the brand an opportunity to find out which product sells the most so they can focus on improving that product.

Detailed Consumer Data

Eliminating post purchase dissonance also helps brands compile valuable customer data. This information can help brands get a better understanding of the customers cognitive behaviours to help them understand their purchasing decisions as well as their pain points. With this data brands can improve their products as well as come up with tailored marketing campaigns.

Improved Brand Image

Having a positive brand image is an absolute must and improving customer satisfaction helps build a positive image. Brands should consistently work on providing exceptional purchasing and post purchasing experience, when done correctly it helps in solidifying the brand image in the eyes of the customers. This further helps in making the brand a preferred choice for choice for customers.

Wrapping Up

In essence, post purchase dissonance is the negative mental state of the customer in regard to their purchase of a product or a service. There are a plethora of reasons for post-purchase cognitive dissonance, such as

  • Ordering wrong products
  • Underperforming products
  • Misleading claims and exaggerated descriptions
  • Extensive and tedious return processes
  • Unresponsive customer service

It's quite clear that understanding the importance as well as minimizing post purchase dissonance is extremely important. It plays an extremely crucial role in not only improving customer satisfaction rates but also improves retention rates, sales, and revenue.

Bringing the brands focus to eliminating post purchase dissonance can help them stand out and to further recap, brands should focus on the following:

  • Offer accurate product descriptions and information
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Be completely transparent about the return policy
  • Simplify the return process
  • Offer responsive customer service
  • Follow up with post purchase emails

These are important aspects of the purchasing process that make a huge difference. When it comes to reducing post purchase dissonance, bear in mind that focusing on tiny details can make the biggest impact.

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By Sonaksh Singh Rawat profile image Sonaksh Singh Rawat
Updated on
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