5 Ways to Drive Customer Loyalty From Product Returns
Returns are often emotionally charged events. Think about it: Customers return things that don’t fit, they don’t like, can’t afford, don’t need, don’t want or weren’t what they expected. For many customers, returns are embarrassing, filled with disappointment, frustration or, at the very least, a major inconvenience. How you handle this touchy situation could very well impact your customer’s decision to continue doing business with you.
What can you do to get a return customer from a customer return? First, consider changing the way you think about returns. Rather than viewing returns as a problem, think of them as an opportunity. You can solidify your relationship with a current customer or, in the case of a gift return, have the chance to win a new customer. Here are five simple tips to turn the return process into a positive experience:
1. Have a clear and well-posted return policy. One of the best ways to make sure that consumers aren't turned off by the return process is to have your return policy posted where they can see it. It should also be printed on return slips and repeated to the customer at the time of purchase.
2. Empower your employees to do the "right thing." No matter what your return policy — or how well it's communicated to your customers — there will still be situations that fall outside of the policy. These situations need to be considered with fresh eyes. Empower your employees, within set limits, to “do the right thing” by making sure your customers get what they need. If you aren't comfortable empowering your employees in this way, train them. In situations outside of written policy and when employees feel that a customer deserves a break, train them to say “Let me get my manager for you.” Make sure they say that before the customer asks for it.
3. Talk about what you can do instead of what you can't do. Nobody likes to hear “no.” Yet we find ourselves saying it over and over: “No, I can’t do that” or even worse, “No, I can’t, it's not our policy.” Instead of delivering a simple no, stop, take a breath and think about what you can do. When you tell a customer, “I can see why that's important to you, let me see what I can do” or “I wish I could do that, but I can do this instead … ” you make them feel important and well cared for.
4. Know how to handle difficult customers. Even the best employee with the best attitude can find it difficult to deal with the dreaded difficult customer. The best way to handle these customers is to kill them with kindness. Yes, it might seem that the last thing you want to do is be kind to the jerk yelling at you, but the quickest way to turn that difficult person around is to do everything in your power to make them happy.
When you can look at a customer as a human being who has personal issues just like you do, it's easier to treat them with respect. Think of this difficult person as someone who's probably grumpy for reasons that have nothing to do with you or your company. This isn’t to say that you should tolerate being sworn at or disrespected. If they're being abusive, simply say, “I really want to help you, but I can't do that when you're treating me this way. When you calm down I will do everything in my power to help you.”
5. Handle one customer at a time. Win them over with great service and reap the rewards of a loyal customer.
Laurie Brown is a dynamic trainer, coach, speaker and author with more than 20 years of experience helping individuals, associations and companies improve their sales, customer service, leadership and presentation skills. Reach Laurie at email@example.com.