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Friday, 05 December 2008 05:00

Returns Management | Managing Product Returns

Written by

twice_logo

Originally published in Twice Magazine

Returns Management - Creating the Best Experience While Managing Costs

Most dealers view the customer with a return as a "problem customer" and not a "customer with a problem." Any product purchased by a consumer and returned (for any reason) costs everyone involved, including the customer, time and money —a lot of money. Effective returns management benefits consumers, retailers, and manufacturers alike.

Returns Management - Why Are Products Returned?

The problem lies not only in that it costs a lot to process returned products, but in the fact that the product was returned at all. It's been proven that the vast majority of all returns have absolutely nothing technically wrong with them. So why are they returned?
Retailers and manufacturers are jointly responsible for the consumer experience regarding the products they offer, yet rarely do they effectively work together to address the solutions to the consumers' problems that are causing returns.

Returns Management - Reducing Returns By Studying its Causes

The goal of improved returns management should be to develop a strategy to reduce returns that addresses:

  • what customers should do when they have a problem;
  • determining what caused the real or perceived problem; and     
  • implementing effective measures to prevent the problem from occurring again.

Returns Management -Keeping the Customer Happy

Here are a few suggestions on how to keep the consumer happy and the product sold:

  • Clearly identify what it is you want the consumer to do when they have a question or a problem. Make sure that the product, the information on and in the box, and the salesperson (if there is one) clearly communicate this. And make sure that when the consumer is instructed to do something, like contact a call center, that this is the most efficient way to resolve the problem.
  • Determine how you will capture and communicate usability issues that consumers are experiencing. How are these findings communicated throughout the organization’s returns management process? How will they be addressed in future product development, packaging, in-store displays and retail sales product training? Do you have a plan? If not, only sales will decrease, not returns.
  • Verify on a frequent basis that the instructions in and on the box and Web site contain up-to-date information. Do you have a stop sheet and a quick-start guide? Are they lost within the instruction package or are they attached to the product so that they cannot be missed?

Returns Management - Effectively Communicating With Consumers

Ask these questions:
Are instructions written at or below a sixth-grade level?
Does your Web site guide the consumer with a problem to easily find the solution?
Are the FAQs updated to reflect the changes in consumer questions throughout the life cycle of the product?

Returns Management - Training Retailers

Create and implement training with retailers for sales and service/return counter associates. Training must include not only the features and benefits of the product but also issues the average consumer may experience in learning how to operate the device. Utilize the consumer information obtained by the call center and Web site to update returns management training on an ongoing basis.

We all know that most products are returned because "they didn't perform as expected." There was a breakdown somewhere along the product development and sales life cycle. Effective returns management ensures that it happens less often in the future than it has in the past. This will only occur through better cooperation and communication of the issues between retailers and manufacturers.

Twice

Originally published in Twice Magazine

Reality check: Gas is up, sales are down and things may not improve any time soon. So how do you survive the slump? Here is a four-point action plan that can help you weather the storm.

First: Recognize the opportunities that do exist. Have you noticed that as the price of gas increases, so do the number of phone calls to the store? At times like this, more people turn to the telephone to check in-stocks and ask questions. It's the perfect time to train and retrain your people on how to sell over the phone. Good sales people should recognize the telephone as an "opportunity" rather than an "annoyance." Are your people prompt in answering it? Do they qualify the customer's needs as they would in the store? Do they invite the customer to visit the store, or even set up an appointment?

Thursday, 01 May 2008 05:00

Minding Your Business - Responding to Customers

Written by

Vision Magazine

Originally published in Vision Consumer Electronics Magazine

 

“SORRY – OUR PRODUCTS ARE SOOOOOOO BAD WE ARE TOO BUSY TO HELP YOU NOW”

Is that the impression the consumer gets when they call your customer service number?

If it is, you need to review how much was budgeted for product returns.  You did plan (remember You Gotta Have A Plan!) for the amount of product that will be returned and budget for the impact on sales, expense and cash flow didn’t you?

A recent survey of consumers showed that more than 70% of them regard a toll free Call Center to be very or extremely important when they have a question or a problem. Only 5% considered a web site as an important source that they would use to find answers to their questions.

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