Contributions to Profit Profit From Your Returns
By Jim Gilbert
There tends to be a collective mind-set among customers that the return process always will be a giant hassle. Anyone who has bought a product via mail has at least one horror story about returns.
But I've also heard the opposite. In fact, I've heard people brag about how easy the return process is when they've had a good experience.
A clear, concise return policy, with exceptional customer service, is a must if you want to compete today. And that return policy needs to be seamless throughout all your channels, no matter where the purchase was made. So where do you start?
1. Check out your guarantee. Can it easily be stated? If it's too complicated, make it simpler. Take a look at your order form, your Web site and your shipping materials. Do you state your guarantee and return policy? Are they easy to find? Ask someone who's not part of your company to find your policies and report back to you. You may be surprised by what you hear. Tip: If your customer feels your guarantee is solid, he or she will perceive less risk when ordering. By reducing the perception of risk, it's easier for customers to make the decision to say "yes" to your offering.
2. Use your enterprise software to track why customers return products. If you don't know offhand your product-return reasons, learn them. By understanding why customers return your products, you can make some powerful changes.
For instance, a company I worked with analyzed its returns and found that the way the pictures were presented in its catalog wasn't representative of the items people actually received. By changing how products were photographed, the company decreased its return rate. The net result: more gross profit.
3. Maintain strict quality control in your fulfillment center. If customers return products because they were sent the wrong items, you might have an internal quality-control issue.