For the next two weeks, customers will descend on your store armed with gift cards, cash, and a strong desire to buy for their favorite person, themselves. Many of them will also be carrying gifts to return and/or exchange.
Far too many retailers go into the post-holiday season dreading the prospect of dealing with returns and exchanges. That attitude is a recipe for upsetting customers and missing opportunities.
Every customer who walks into your store, for whatever reason, is an opportunity to create a sale and deliver an extraordinary experience that will bring that person back throughout the coming year.
Look at your customers who come in with a return or exchange as an opportunity, not inconvenience. Think sales and experience, not refunds. Think turning returns into dollars.
Don't assume the customer wants a refund. Don't assume the customer will only spend the value of the product they're exchanging. And most important, don't assume that you can't finish in the black this week. A good way to make sure you do finish in the black is to take an approach I call Three "I"s with a Smile.
1. Intercept every customer before he/she gets to the counter. Greet each with a warm smile, a heartfelt "welcome" and an offer to take the return.
Associates in many stores run from customers with refunds, or at the very least do nothing more than point them to the counter. This is not only a big mistake that ends up increasing the amount of returns, but makes the person with a return feel less important than the person making a purchase. Try to engage customers as close to the door as possible without making them feeling accosted.
2. Identify why your customer is making a return or exchange. Since you are assuming the customer will make an exchange and probably spend even more money, listen carefully to what he says in order to gain information that will help make your next step be the correct one. One important thing you need to know is whether the person returning the product is the original buyer or received the item as a gift.
3. Inspire your customer to upgrade her return or exchange by enthusiastically recommending products that will better meet her needs. Your customer may object to this and state that she just wants a refund. With a smile and the information you've gained from your identify step, you can explain why she should consider it. You'll be surprised how many customers will agree to look at what you're recommending. It often just takes a bit of finesse because the customer came in with the mindset of getting a refund.
I can't emphasize enough that how you present the refund alternative impacts the results. When you do this with confidence, passion, and a smile you'll often get the results you want. We owe it to our customers- and ourselves - to try and overcome at least one refund objection. This can save a retailer thousands of dollars in returns.
If, after you've taken these steps, the customer wants to move forward with a return then of course you'll escort him to the counter and get his return handled cheerfully and efficiently.
So let me ask, are you ready for the post-season? All it takes is the right mindset and Three "I"s with a Smile.
Doug Fleener, a proven retail and customer experience expert and consultant, helps companies dramatically improve their customer experience and their results. Visit our Dynamic Experiences Group website, or call Doug at 866-535-6331 to discuss how he can help you create an extraordinary experience and results.