Recently, the marketing manager at the company I work for sent me an blog entry written by Seth Godin, the entrepreneur and author. In it, Godin writes about how to screw up a customer experience:
“Let them know you don’t accept returns. Explain that it must be a user error. Explain that the customer must have lacked care or intelligence or ethics. Explain that you’re willing to accept a return, but just this one time. And finally, explain that you’re now going to put the person on a list, and you’ll never sell to him ever again.”
This short blog entry brought about a horrendous flash of life, almost a right-before-death moment. I thought about all the times that I have made a debacle of the opportunity to make a customer. We spend countless hours training our people to be nice, we spend countless dollars advertising and marketing to get people in our stores and we miss this opportunity to prove how great we really are.
I know many will say that customer was unruly and rude when they bought the product. I know many will say that we simply do not take electrical parts back. I know we will all make a ton of excuses as to why we should not give these folks a refund.
This is when we should shine, though! We do not often find ourselves with all the control of a situation as our customers dictate to us what we are going to do. This is an opportunity where we can be in control and make a customer happy at the same time.
I envision it happening this way: The customer enters and asks, “Can you take this back?” This is when you can say, “certainly” but “I will need a couple of pieces of information please” and continue with, “I hope we did not mess you up.”
Obviously, the scenario can be caused by many different situations. We sell products that have core charges and that is a sure return again. Why not make the best of it?
The customer could be upset; when the customer is upset, we should not be in a hurry to rush them out just because they are angry. This is an opportunity to bring credibility to the store. This comes down to the article that Counterman editor Mark Phillips wrote a few months back about what our employees are empowered to do. We can use this opportunity to do something great and make them happy. Only you know what you are empowered to do for the customer, but I would be willing to bet that your employer would not hesitate to back you should you win over a customer.
The customer could simply not need the part in question. This, again, is an opportunity. This is a time when you can build a relationship with the customer. Build the relationship and you may find you are the new go-to guy or gal in the future.
Only you can decide if a refund is an opportunity. If you treat it as such, it can be.