Investment on Returns
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So there I stood, feeling incredibly stupid. Having waited in line for a few
minutes to return a paperback copy of Harry Potter, which I realized I already
owned once I brought it home, I stood face-to-face with the cashier. I looked
over his shoulder and ready “Barnes and Nobles”, I looked down at the imprint on
my plastic bag “Waldenbooks”. I paused , turned beet red and said “Oops, I am
obviously in the wrong place”. I started to turn and leave when he gently
stopped me with the words “If we carry that book we would be happy to refund it
for you”. “Really???” I asked. “Sure no problem let me have a look”. He
determined that he already had 24 copies in stock and was more than happy to
take one more. He handed me a credit card looking store credit, had me sign a
receipt and that was that.
But that was not the end of the story. I was so blown away and so grateful I
decided to go buy a CD. Now the CD was about twice what my refund was so I
handed the card and the money and I took my CD and left
But that was still not the end of the story. As soon as I got out of the
store I called my brother and 5 of my friends to tell them about this amazing
customer service. And now of course I am telling you, too.
So let’s look at this story and see what actually occurred. Barnes and Nobles
made an “Investment on my Return”. What exactly was the “cost” of this
investment? Perhaps there was a cost for training the employee that taught him
to act in this kind and generous way. But other than that it cost them nothing.
Okay maybe there was some cost for restocking. They will surely sell that other
copy. But then we need to reverse this formula and see what the Return on
Here is where the real power of this theory is seen. They not only were
repaid their initial outlay of $7.99, they received an additional $7.99 that I
most surely would not have spent otherwise. They received free word of mouth
advertising (which is far more powerful and effective than traditional
advertising) and they created a loyal, raving fan customer.
“Returns” are often emotionally charged events. Think about it. People return
things that “don’t fit”, that they “don’t like” , that they “can’t afford” ,
“wasn’t what they expected”, that are of “inferior quality”, that” they don’t
need” or “they don’t want”
For a lot of your customers returns are either embarrassing, filled with
disappointment or frustration or at the very least a major inconvenience.
How you handle this touchy situation will impact on your customer’s decision
to continue doing business with you.
There are many stories going around about how Nordstrom would take anything
in a return (including a car engine). Of course you don’t have to go to that
extreme to make your return policy fair, easy and effective.
What does it take to create a return atmosphere that will keep your customers
Management needs to create a policy that is fair, easy and effective. Put
yourself in your customer’s shoes and make a decision that benefits them.
Once you have your policy make sure that your employees understand what the
policy is and how to implement it.
This may be the most essential element of the process. Empower your employee
to “do the right thing” to “err” in favor of the customer. Then publicly stand
behind that employee even if his or her decision goes beyond your policy. Take
them aside privately and discuss and modify.
Your customers need to know your policy inside out. This is especially true
if your business has strict regulations. If they need to have a receipt to
return the product then it is best to say to the customer as they are checking
our “Remember if you need to return this we require the receipt. Would you like
it in the bag or would you like to have it?” Granted this will not guarantee
that the customers will remember but it does help. Also have the return policy
displayed at the check out line and on the receipt.
5. Bend within Reason
Rules are important, but customers are more important. Even with a strict
return policy you need to be customer focused. Do what you can to help that
customer with their need. Remember the Investment of Return.
Truly looking out for your customers best interest is actually in your best
interest. Take a long hard look at your policy. Is it serving you and your
customers? If not change it NOW!
About the Author
Laurie Brown is an international speaker, trainer and consultant who works to
help people improve their sales, service and presentation skills. She is the
author of The Teleprompter Manual, for Executives, Politicians, Broadcasters and
Speakers. Laurie can be contacted through
http://www.thedifference.net, or 1-877.999.3433, or at
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-06-16 13:58:38 in Marketing Articles