Return Policies – Make it Visible

Return Policies – Make it Visible

How many times have you been dissatisfied with a product or it was the wrong size or color but didn’t return it.  From my own experience, I just might not make the time or effort or I forget. Frequently, I’m not sure of what the store’s return policy is and in our digital world of commerce, I throw away the paper receipt that often contains this information. So what is the outcome?  Especially if I felt the store sold shoddy merchandise, that company lost me as a customer for a potential lifetime of purchases.

A few weeks ago, my wife had some minor surgery and the staff at my office wanted to send her flowers. My company is located in New Jersey and we live in Manhattan, so they asked me for a recommendation.

I immediately suggested Ariston Florist, who I use when I have a special occasion or event. The flowers arrived and they were beautiful.  My wife was happy. However, within a day, the roses started to wilt and within 48 hours the petals were dropping. I had two choices; one not to say anything and never shop or recommend Ariston again. No need to tell my staff of course. My second choice was to contact the florist and tell them what happened.

The choice was easy because of the card enclosed with the arrangement. It read, “We have built up an excellent reputation on beautiful flowers and prompt service. If we ever fail to meet your expectations, please let us know. It was a pleasure of give your order our personal attention.”

Seeing that message, I did not hesitate to pick up the phone. The woman who answered was friendly and upbeat. When I told her about the flowers she said she was sorry and asked if I could hold while she checked the order. She was surprised, but immediately told us she would send a replacement. An hour later, a new arrangement arrived and we enjoyed it for a week.

Ariston made my day and my wife was so happy to get another bouquet. My staff never knew of the issue.  The florist will continue to get all of my business and referrals to neighbors and friends.

People are too busy to read all your posted return policy signs and most likely don’t keep the paper receipts.  I think all businesses should include a nice note that specifies their product guarantee. Return policies should be used as an opportunity to continue the customer journey, not act as a detour. They should not trigger an abrupt end to the relationship and the loss of future dollars.

What is your company’s return policies and how do you tell your customers about them?

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About the Author ()

Richard R. Shapiro is Founder and President of The Center For Client Retention (TCFCR) and a leading authority in the area of customer satisfaction and loyalty. For 28 years, Richard has spearheaded the research conducted with thousands of customers from Fortune 100 and 500 companies amassing the ingredients of customer loyalty and what drives repeat business. His first book was The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business and The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business, was released in February, 2016.

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