Customer returns are never pleasant experiences. After all, you stand behind the products you sell, and you want every single customer to be delighted with his or her purchase. Sometimes, no matter what you do, some customers just won’t be happy with their purchases and they’ll want to return them. Below are five of the best practices and tips for handling returns.
#1 – Make Your Return Policy Clear
This is probably the most important tip of them all. Make sure that your customers know your return policies before they ever purchase a product from you. Sometimes, companies will hide their policies in the fine print or bury them deep within their websites, which helps neither those companies nor their customers. Make sure your return policy is fair and prominent on the page. Give everyone a chance to read and understand it before they buy from you.
#2 – Accept Your Own Mistakes
No matter how hard you try to provide a perfect experience for every customer, you will inevitably make a mistake. Every company does. For the most part, it’s not the mistake that will cause the failure of the company – it’s the way those mistakes are handled. If a customer receives a defective product or one that doesn’t live up to his or her expectations, apologize and offer a refund or store credit per your return policy. Customers will really appreciate you going out of your way to make their experiences better.
#3 – Package Products Correctly for Shipping
One of the most common reasons for customer returns is damage during shipping. Even though you can’t help what the shipper does once the product leaves the warehouse, there are things you can do to provide some added layers of protection. Make sure you’re using the right packing materials, including the right box or envelope size. This will go a long way toward keeping your products safe even if they are mishandled.
#4 – Reply to Return Requests Promptly
When a customer starts the process of returning an item, he or she is likely already frustrated. Returns are never convenient for consumers, but if you make sure that you reply to any return requests quickly, you can ease that frustration a great deal and make it a little more convenient. Many companies set up a separate email address for return requests and check that one more frequently. Make sure you have a process lined out and that you make it as quick and painless as possible.
#5 – Pay for Shipping
There’s nothing worse than receiving a defective product in the mail only to find out that you are responsible for shipping that defective product back to the company for a refund. If the defect is not the customer’s fault – if it was due to manufacturing, shipping, or some other issue, in other words – don’t ask that your customers pay for return shipping. It’s common for the world’s most popular ecommerce providers to offer printable prepaid return labels to their customers for this reason.
Returns are one of the difficult parts of running an ecommerce business. No matter how hard you try to ensure a wonderful experience, you will run into problems from time to time. These five tips are designed to keep returns at a minimum, but they’ll also help you keep your customers happy even if they do choose to return a product to you.