Handling Product Returns: Nine Ways To Navigate The Issue

It’s never fun dealing with product returns. After all, we’re in business to sell products—not return them! Unfortunately, it’s something we all have to get used to as business owners.

There are bound to be issues that result in the need for a return, and we need to be prepared for them. So, if you don’t want angry customers berating your product return process along the way, these tips will help.

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Make Your Policy Clear

In the first instance, it’s imperative that you make your policy clear for your customers. Failing to do this will result in a barrage of complaints surrounding the complexity of the returns process. So, if you want to avoid arguments, using plain and clear English is a good way to start. Be clear about what you will and won’t accept as a return.

It’s also important to discuss things like time limits surrounding the return and when it must be reported by. As long as you’ve got all that information in black and white, you’ll be covered.

No Hidden Costs

When a customer signs on the dotted line, they’re expecting you to be a trustworthy seller. If that trust comes back to haunt them, they’re not likely to use your services again. So, when a returns process is put in place, hidden costs are bound to cause irritation.

Charging your own customers to return a faulty item isn’t often a good idea—especially if you don’t tell them about it! If you’re intent on making them pay out, be sure to make it very clear in your documentation beforehand.

Always Be Ready With A Solution

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. They’re already unhappy that they have to return a product, whether it’s for faulty reasons or simply a change of heart. Now, they just want to get the thing out of their hands as quickly as possible. If you’re not prepared with a quick turnaround solution, the process will take longer than they wish it to, causing frustration.

So, what’s your plan? How can you make the return quicker? What happens to the product when you get it? You could figure this out in-house, or fulfillment companies like Red Stag Fulfillment can provide help. Develop a plan before you get the return.

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Train Your Staff

When a customer is already a little irate about being forced to return a product, they don’t want to be told “no.” That statement is particularly true when the staff member in question doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Return policies are often quite complex in nature, leading to disagreements between both parties.

As long as your staff members are lined with the clear facts of the situation, you shouldn’t have any reason to doubt them. But, if you’ve got two employees saying different things, it’s a surefire path to customer irritation.

Consider All The Options

If a disgruntled customer wishes to return a purchase, you don’t have to accept it right off the bat. Many companies look to exchange policies as a good way of retaining the customer and the sale. Or, offering discounts and additional incentives might be a good way of sweetening the existing deal.

Some companies even offer a free trial period in which customers can try a product before they commit. The choice you make is ultimately up to you. In some cases, it can be a good idea to implement different solutions for different scenarios.

Communicate At All Times

If a customer is returning a product, they’re waiting for one of two things: a replacement or their money. In the former case, they’ll want to be updated every step of the way until the new product is in their hands. Failing to communicate will only put further doubt into their minds, so establishing an effective process is key. This can take the form of email services, regular phone calls and much more.

In a case where they’re waiting for a return of funds, communication is still an important consideration. Clarifying your process and how long it should take will reduce any unnecessary acts of frustration on the customer’s behalf.

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Promote Your Policy

You’ve got a great product return policy? Cool! So, why aren’t you promoting it?! Boasting that a certain percent of customers are happy with your policy or highlighting its features can be a great marketing tactic.

Customers want to know that they’ll be looked after if a product or service isn’t to their specifications. Giving them assurances that this will be the case through your marketing strategy is bound to generate more sales. Get it on your website, put it in the window and make your return policy famous.

Implement User Reviews Online

With services like Testimonial Robot, you can add user reviews to your website with relative ease. So, it’s a good idea to do this in order to avoid product return instances as a result of unhappiness. Allowing your customers to rate your products might seem a risky tactic, but it can have numerous benefits.

Not only does it mean that your customers are less likely to grow unhappy, but it’s a marketing tactic that promotes your products for you. Add a few social media share buttons to the system, and you might even go viral.

Limit Your Resistance

As business owners, our first instinct when a customer requests a return can be to dispute it. While it’s important to establish the reason for the return, you don’t want to find yourself in a long-running argument. This is a time when the customer is already feeling aggrieved, and you might lose their business altogether if you push too far. Once you’ve explored all the options and they’re intent on returning the product, you need to do what’s necessary to help them.

Ultimately, the product return process is something that you can’t avoid as a business owner selling to consumers. How you deal with it will have a huge effect on your financial figures and your business as a whole.

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