Monday, July 14, 2014

You Wouldn't do THAT to Your Customer, Would You?

Would you treat your customer with kindness right up until the end and then kick them in the face after they gave you their money?

No, of course you wouldn't. Yet you do.

Would you tell your customers - Don't come around here... We don't want you... We're all about ourselves, not you... - but let them in and treat them kindly if they by some miracle showed up anyway?

No, of course you wouldn't. Yet you do.

If you have a really tight, restrictive return policy, you are doing that to your customers All. The. Time.


If you are generous to a fault, bending over backwards to give the best possible customer service, making sure all the customer's questions are answered and all her fears assuaged, going over-the-top to do more than she expected, then you are offering the kind of customer service that specialty stores should be giving.

But all that good can be undone the moment she runs into your return policy and it is just over 30 days from purchase, or she took it out of the box only to discover it wasn't what she thought, or she got duplicates as gifts, or she lost her receipt, or she has a defective/missing part, or, or, or. If she runs into a hassle trying to return an item, it may be the last time she visits your store.

You may have won the sale, but you lost the war.

Or let's say you are upfront about your restrictive, me-first, return policy. You might as well shout to the customer that her concerns are secondary to yours. You might as well tell her that she takes a backseat to you. That you have your own back, not hers.

You think it is fine because no one complains about your return policy. They aren't complaining because they aren't even showing up. You gave them the reason not to shop with you in the first place, so they never got to see your wonderfully trained staff, how fabulously you've merchandised the store, or the way you meticulously curated your selection to only have the finest stuff.

Here are two concepts you should wrap your head around regarding your return policy.

First, if you've done all the heavy lifting - making sure you met the customers needs by finding her the perfect solution to her problem and made her feel great about her purchase - then you aren't likely to have many returns to worry about in the first place. And when you do get that return, you get another chance to turn a customer into an evangelist for your store.

Second, if you have a really liberal return policy and someone actually does try to take advantage of you time and time again, you can fire that one customer without pissing off all the rest.

Return policies are really about the Signal you send your customer. Make a liberal return policy and you are telling your customer two really powerful things.

  1. We believe strongly in the merchandise we sell. So much so that we promise to take it back for whatever reason.
  2. We believe strongly in taking the utmost care of you. So much so that we'll do anything to make you happy.

It really won't cost you any more in the long run. In fact, I'm willing to bet it will make you more in the long run. Just ask Nordstrom's and L.L. Bean.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS The best thing to do is to look at all of your customer policies and decide who they favor - you or your customer. If they favor you, change them. Change them now before you scare away another customer or kick her in the face.

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