Why It’s Important to Have a Friendly Returns Policy
As an industrial manufacturer, there are a variety of factors that influence your unique selling proposition (USP) — AKA the thing that makes you stand out from your competitors.
However, there is one factor many industrial manufacturers overlook that can give you a substantial leg up on the competition: A friendly returns policy.
Although returns are never a great thing, per se, they are a reality of commerce. As a result, it’s vital you have a clear and fair returns policy for the products you sell. When customers perceive less risk in purchasing your products, they will be more comfortable buying them. You also reduce the risk of losing or alienating customers, resulting in more sales in the long-term.
After all, you may deny a customer a return, but at what cost to your business? Think about your own personal experiences with returns. If the return isn’t unreasonable, then isn’t it just good customer service to accept it?
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should accept all returns no matter what, no questions asked. This is where creating a clear and fair returns policy that your customers fully understand and that makes sense for your business comes into play.
When creating a policy to manage returns, here are some things you should keep in mind.
Can All Products Be Returned?
The first step in creating a returns policy is identifying which products can and cannot be returned. As an industrial manufacturer, there may be products you offer that just can’t be returned. That’s OK. The key is clearly identifying those products that can’t be returned, and as long as the reasons why are reasonable, customers will typically understand.
However, be sure to only include products on your “no returns” list that have legitimate reasons for why they can’t be returned. The more products on the “no returns” list, the unhappier customers become.
For items that can be returned, it’s also important to identify if that product can be returned with a full refund, or if it will simply be replaced. Again, this may depend upon the type of product. Whichever route you decide to take, ensure you’re as fair as possible and that your policy makes sense.
Is There a Deadline for Returns?
The second step in creating a returns policy is identifying a timeline for when returns must be made. Is your returns period 60 days? 90 days? Longer? Consider what makes sense based on the products you’re selling. You may even consider creating different deadlines for certain product categories — however a set return period for all products is typically easiest to manage and communicate to clients.
What is the Process for Returns?
Are customers required to call first and explain the nature/reasoning for the return? Is there an online form they must fill out? Clearly identify your returns process to ensure your customers don’t become alienated if a return becomes necessary.
Typically, the less burden you put on the customer, the better. As a consumer, nothing is more frustrating than needing to return a product and having to jump through a bunch of unnecessary hoops. The simpler your returns process the happier your customers will be.
Is Your Policy Being Clearly Communicated?
Once you’ve created a fair returns policy, it’s extremely important to ensure that policy is clearly communicated to customers at the point of sale. Post your policy on your website, and make sure it’s clearly stated on both order forms and receipts. In addition, ensure your sales rep can clearly verbalize the policy to customers— especially if a product they’re ordering is on the “no returns” list.
Clear communication is vital. With returns, distinctly stated expectations go a long way to boasting a successful and fair policy that makes your customers happy and that makes sense for your business.
One final note: Laws and regulations concerning returns policies can vary by state. After you’ve created your returns policy, check with your insurance company or a trusted advisor to ensure it’s in accordance with the laws governed by your state.
Remember, a clear and fair returns policy is an important aspect of customer service, adds to your company’s USP and increases customer retention — resulting in more sales in the long-term.
At Hexis, we have developed a highly technical and knowledgeable team of representatives that can capitalize on product synergies to maximize your opportunities, market your products through newly identified distribution channels, provide technical training for on-site and off-site situations, and participate in collaborative sales calls to share knowledge and further build successful relationships with your end customers.
For more information on how Hexis’ dedicated industrial manufacturers’ representatives can improve your bottom line, visit hexisreps.com, call 612.804.1143 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.