Shep Hyken's Customer Service Blog

Four Ways a Liberal Return Policy Creates Customer Confidence

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Every business has returns. It doesn’t matter if you’re B2B or B2C. Returns are inevitable. The industry that probably has the most returns is retail. It’s just a fact. Beyond defective merchandise, which happens in any type of business, someone won’t like that sweater you picked out. Someone has no use for that gadget you thought he or she would love. You get the idea. So, just count on it. It’s going to happen. The question is, how well will you or your business handle it?

Regardless of the type of business you’re in, a good return program is important to your overall customer service and experience strategy. Stats and facts indicate that 85% of customers will not do repeat business with a company where returns are complicated or inconvenient. So, think about this:

How easy are you to do business with?

Ideally, you make it easy to buy from you. You create a positive customer service experience that would make someone want to come back and do business with you again. If for any understandable reason your customers want to return what they bought from you, it shouldn’t ruin their overall experience with you. If anything, that interaction can actually lead to a higher level in customer confidence.

With that in mind, here are four ways to handle the return that not only make it easy for the customer, but also boosts your customer’s confidence, making them want to come back and do business with you. Why? Because you are easy to do business with.

  1. The return policy should be easy to find. Be it posted on a sign in a store or easily found on your website, make it obvious for everyone to see or find. A friendly, customer-focused return policy creates trust, which leads to confidence. Confidence turns into sales and even customer loyalty.
  1. Just take it back. No questions asked. Are you confident enough in the merchandise you sell to stand behind it? If not, why are you selling it? I once interviewed a CEO of a business and he said he wanted the easiest and most liberal return policy in his industry. He said, “If you don’t like the color of the box, we’ll take it back.”
  1. Have agreements with manufacturers and distributors that will take back return items – ideally for any reason. This will give you the flexibility and confidence you need with your merchandise. If you are the manufacturer, go back to number two: Just take it back.
  1. Don’t create return policies to protect yourself from a tiny percentage who might try to take advantage of you. This is very important. Yes, there will always be those that try to return a used and abused item – and without a receipt. Don’t penalize your honest customers for the sins of a few.

So, think about your return policy – does it make you easy to do business with?

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright © MMXV, Shep Hyken)

 
  1. #4 is what most companies seem to be afraid of – customers taking advantage of a generous policy and costing the company money. You’re right that in most cases, this turns out to be a very small cost and is outweighed by an increase in sales and customer loyalty.

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