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LivingSocial revamps app experience with self-service refund feature

As LivingSocial hunts for ways to maintain its popularity among a plethora of online marketplaces, the brand is adding a self-service refund feature to its iPhone application in a bid to streamline the guest experience even more.

LivingSocial has made several updates to its iOS app, including making Apple Pay the default payment method for consumers who have used it for previous purchases. However, the marketplace stands to differentiate itself from its crowded sector by adding the pinnacle of customer service strategies to the app: the ability for users to process refunds themselves, thereby eliminating the need to haggle with employees.

“LivingSocial implementing a self-service refund feature is a smart move, allowing millions of its followers to gain an easier way to be paid back and allowing them to be on the service to view alternate options once the refund is completed,” said Marci Troutman, CEO of SiteMinis. “The customer service aspect of any brand involving refunds can be cumbersome and clunky.

“Allowing the self-serve option knocks all of the middlemen out and gets straight to the customers’ needs within the customers’ timing. This new service has the potential to not only be a winning play, but is also a chance to lead others in customer service strategies.”

Catering to audience needs
LivingSocial’s latest iOS app update proves the brand’s dedication to listening to consumers’ concerns and rolling out strategies to combat them.

Individuals who purchase any of the special deals on the online marketplace’s site or app – which span a wide variety of sectors, including beauty, local activities and food and beverage – may find themselves needing to return the package, particularly if it is locked in for a particular date at which they are no longer available.

Instead of calling a customer service representative and explaining the situation over the phone or chatting with a LivingSocial employee online, customers will be able to take advantage of the company’s self-service refund tool on the mobile app.

Users can verify the eligible refund grace period on their deal voucher, online account or iOS app. Those using the app may select the “voucher” button in the bottom right-hand corner.

Account holders can then press the “Ask for a Refund” button shown next to their voucher, which will automatically submit the request.

If the deal is eligible, consumers will receive the full refund within five business days alongside a confirmation email.

This feature may useful for shoppers who remain undecided about an impromptu purchase, or who have been gifted an unwanted voucher by a friend or family member.

Consumers falling into the latter group can request a refund for their gift, which will be given to them in Deal Bucks, enabling them to choose another, better-suited package from LivingSocial’s offerings.

“It’s certainly a smart move,” said Mary Beth Keelty, chief marketing officer of PM Digital. “For an online marketplace like LivingSocial, a lot of exploration and discovery is happening on the consumer’s end, and so the app interface, overall usability and content need to produce a mobile-friendly, frictionless experience.

“For any brand to achieve that kind of experience, actions like buying, making a change to an order or requesting a refund need to be completely seamless for the user.”

Ramping up refunds
LivingSocial’s competitors in the online marketplace sector are also constantly evolving their mobile sites and apps to keep up with customer demand and include the latest commerce technologies.

“Evolving the mobile experience, both within brand apps and in mobile search, will continue to be a primary initiative for marketers, and I’d expect to see a lot of online retailers exploring capabilities such as the self-service refund tool to further streamline shopping on mobile,” Ms. Keelty said. “According to recent eMarketer projections, mobile marketing spend will be nearly double that of desktop by 2017, which truly speaks to the pace of this mobile evolution.

“It’s ultimately a product of the changing behaviors and expectations of the modern consumer, and brands that don’t continue working to enhance mobile run the risk of losing crucial relationships.”

Fellow rival Groupon is fueling engagement with its iOS mobile app by incorporating 3D Touch to further highlight daily deals and offer more user interaction (see story).

However, implementing a self-service refund tool could throw more support in LivingSocial’s direction and prompt competitors to adopt the same feature, if they have not yet already.

“Given time and with positive results, other online retailers may see that this type of thinking could be beneficial to add to their overall mobile strategies,” SiteMinis’ Ms. Troutman said. “New services usually take time to flush out and show positive results, but [this] could very well be an addition other online retailers see as a winning strategy as early as 2016.”