After the holidays, consumers will return or exchange billions of dollars of merchandise. No one enjoys the return process; they may feel guilty about bringing back a gift a loved one carefully selected, dread the long lines and/or be anxious about grumpy customers and clerks. Smart retailers will realize that the Return Counter is an opportune place and time to turn that visitor into a lifetime customer. Here are ten tips for turning your Return Counter into a ‘Welcomer’ Counter:
1. Place your most caring and knowledgeable front-line associates at the Return Counter.
2. Add temporary stations if necessary to ensure that the lines are kept to a minimum. Have a front-line associate who has a great smile and attitude offer customers standing in line coffee, drinks, snacks, etc. to make the experience more enjoyable. Engage customers in line; make them feel welcomed, important and appreciated even before they reach the register.
3. Have front-line associates communicate their names, even if it is on their badge; “Hi, I’m Dawn, I will happy to help you today.”
4. Find out the customer’s name upfront, and use it as part of the conversation. Everyone likes to hear their name and saying it helps make the interaction seem more personable
5. Try to determine the customer’s underlying emotion. Is the customer disappointed about returning the gift? Are they frustrated by having to spend time going to the store? Are they happy with the gift but need another size? Acknowledging the customer’s underlying emotion communicates that you are treating them as a person and not just another transaction.
6. Find out if the customer has ever been in the store before. If they are a regular customer, thank them for being loyal. If they have never shopped in the establishment before, tell them you hope they will return, reminding them that you truly appreciate your customers.
7. Make the potential exchange, credit or refund process simple and hassle-free. If the return is within a day or two after the allowed period, be flexible. Don’t focus on the customer’s return transaction but consider what you can say or do to make that customer want to make your business one of their favorites.
8. Ask customers if someone from the store can follow-up with them to ensure their experience was pleasant. Getting feedback, even from a small number of customers, can be very helpful.
9. When the transaction is complete, end the interaction with something like, “Mr. Jones, it was so nice to help you today and we hope that you will continue to shop here. We appreciate our customers every day of the year!”
10. If you have the time and staff to do it, sending the customer a personalized letter, thanking them for coming in and giving them the name of a specific person in the store who can assist them in the future, can gain your business a lifelong, loyal customer!
Turning your Return Counter into a ‘Welcomer’ Counter will guarantee that customers think of your store, not your competitor’s, whenever they need to shop.
Please add your Return Counter tips and suggestions in the comments below.
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