If you could reduce your returns by 25 percent, what kind of impact would it have on your bottom line? After creating a foundation for managing returns, companies such as Philips, AT&T, Best Buy, Hoover, and P&G have reduced returns by more than $100 million. Whether your company has the potential for that kind of savings or not, the impact can be significant. A streamlined product returns management plan saves money, increases productivity and profitability, and improves customer relations.
The Product Returns Management Strategy implemented by a nationwide retailer makes a definitive statement about how they choose to run their organization. Your returns strategy not only impacts your customer experience management process -- but also employees on your sales floor all the way up to the your corporate office. Focusing on product returns management (by way of both volume and impact) without alienating end customers requires thoughtful planning, anticipation, strategy, and precise execution!
What causes product returns? Could be poor sales transactions, scheduling, delivery, service after-the-sale, or product quality. How about the end customer experience or their inability to operate the product? The reasons are numerous. But, the real question to ask yourself is “how much insight do we have and what do we do with that knowledge”?
Originally published in Twice Magazine
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.
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.
The goal of improved returns management should be to develop a strategy to reduce returns that addresses:
Here are a few suggestions on how to keep the consumer happy and the product sold:
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?
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.