Many happy returns

How any business handles complaints and returns defines customer service. Since the benefit of any product or service is realized once the sale is made, it is imperative that an exchange or return be made easily so as not to make the buyer feel pressured. Customers will buy more with good policies and refer new buyers as well. A bad experience is likely to end the relationship and result in the loss of business; not a desired effect with today’s economy and competition.

So what is the best return policy? If you model your business plan after Nordstrom’s slogan, “Even if you’re making an exchange or return, we make it easy,” the policy should be whatever keeps the customer happy which is getting their money back with the least resistance and work. Of course the store owner gets stuck with extra credit card fees, repackaging, restocking, and reselling the returned item, but the loss of a customer is far more expensive.

All return policies need to be visible. Post them on cash registers, on receipts and if online, post prominent links. Staff should be trained when checking customers out so as to mention the policy and how many days a customer has to return merchandise. Nowadays it is obvious how many stores have extended the return time period, and some have no limits at all. Any exceptions to the return policy should be clear, and an upfront approach perhaps by the sales representative at checkout could reinforce the reminder with a statement such as, “Sales items cannot be returned.”

All employees should be trained to handle returns, exchanges and refunds. The staff should stay friendly and proceed as quickly as possible with the least amount of paperwork and questions. A return is not the time to ask customers for more data than necessary since the customer is likely not happy. Try to turn the transaction into a pleasant experience by staying friendly even if the customer gets rude. Online return policies often include prepaid return labels, which is a great way to gain the competitive edge by reversing and reducing the risk for consumers. Again, making sure that the policy is clear reduces confusion.

Lastly, don’t treat 99% of customers like the 1% who are dishonest and who try to take advantage of generous return policies. Most customers just want to be happy with their purchases and ensure they have spent their money wisely.

photo credit: Bitman

One Response to “Many happy returns”

  1. Service Untitled» Blog Archive » B&H Customer Service said:

    Mar 22, 10 at 10:37 am

    […] return policy. B&H isn’t the only retail store that has a very liberal return policy (see this post on Nordstrom). A liberal return policy represents a desire to keep customers loyal to the company […]