Friday, April 6, 2012

Plan B



Sometimes in life you have to have a plan B. This is the plan that is implemented when things don’t go as originally planned. This means in simple terms, “If this doesn’t happen, I will have to do that.” In business it is paramount to have a plan B and maybe a plan C or D. Your business will not always run smoothly and will hit many snags along the way; you will be in a heap of trouble if you don’t have an alternative plan of action. Something as simple as a return policy can create issues. Do you have a return policy? How is this information disseminated to your customers? Is your policy on receipts; is it easy to contact you to discuss a problem? Many retailers have a loose guideline on returns others are ironclad with no room for variation. Are these the best policies?


I’ve been to retailers that have ironclad return and exchange policies and if you are past that date for return, tough luck. If I have doubts about the quality of the merchandise or if there may be an issue down the road with an item I am more apt not to purchase from this store. I frequented a clothing store in the mall to buy inexpensive summer shirts; while they were very cute I found that the fabric did not wash well. It has a tendency to “pill” and one shirt even had an issue with seams, they puckered after I washed them. Unfortunately, their return policy was very strict, and short, so unless you notice a problem immediately you couldn’t return the item. Needless to say these shirts ended up at Goodwill and I don’t shop there anymore.


This is why having a plan B is so important. Giving the customer a little leeway can show that you care. My husband purchased a router from a local electronics store. It didn’t work and he wanted to return it. He was busy and then misplaced the receipt. By the time he found the receipt the return due date had passed. He went to the store anyways and spoke with someone in customer service. They had no problem taking the item back and giving him a full refund. They understood that sometimes people get busy or the product doesn’t malfunction till later. They had a plan B for just such an issue. Needless to say we are still purchasing electronics from this store and have no plan to stop buying from them anytime soon.


Now I understand that sometimes customers abuse a return or exchange policy. We’ve all heard the stories of women buying an expensive cocktail dress, hiding the tag and wearing it out on the town for a night of fun and promptly returning it on Monday morning. Now I’m not saying that this isn’t true, but isn’t it a lot of work to go through for this type of scam? Also, how likely is this to happen? People who genuinely have a problem with the merchandise should have some recourse and should be able to discuss problem resolution. I’m not telling retailers to be doormats, but take each case into consideration because if a shirt puckers at the seams and this isn’t ruching, how do you expect the customer to wear it? Having consideration for your customer and looking at things from their point of view will help to keep customers coming back. After all, those $15 to $25 purchases can add up fast.

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