The thing with email marketing is that your customers will probably not have seen your product, tried it on or been shocked to discover that it doesn’t have a USB3 port despite this being explained clearly in the email. Your carefully calculated percentage of returns against sales will cope, but what about in three or four week’s time in the post Christmas rush?
It might mean taking staff off their main role to cope. The time available to you to deal with a return is limited by law so a laissez fair attitude, pointing vaguely to late May, is not an option. We will cover the law as it relates to returns in depth in a later article.
As with any interface with customers there are opportunities to be exploited. It is probable that they will remember the procedure, so if it is smooth and irritation free, they will associate your company with professionalism.
You will probably have a pro forma to be completed with a set procedure, fully explained on the website. Many will include a link to their returns policy on the confirmation email. If your systems exceed minimum limits required by law then mention this with some energy.
Remember all the time that here you have a person who thought that your product was something missing from their lives but on receiving it discovered that it was not. Perhaps a similar item might meet their expectations. So make the process of returns as hassle-free as possible.
The customer will have clicked on the returns link on the marketing email or your website. They will be taken to a landing page which will have a brief outline of your returns policy but do not expect everyone to read it. If you have exceeded the legal requirements, say for instance 21 days for a no reason return, then you will have customers who will attempt to return an item after a month. Have procedures to deal with such claims.
You could just figuratively tap the displayed procedure. Done politely and with explanations this might be accepted graciously by the customer, but don’t bank on it. Remember they are your subscribers. Why not just point out the error and say that ‘as it is you’ we will extend the limit.
One problem with some automated systems is the box that must be completed on the form. If the specific situation means then cannot complete it then expect a phone call. This should be directed to someone informed and aware of the correct responses. The phone call in exasperation is the most risky for losing a subscriber to your email marketing list.
You must have established procedures for returned items. The simplest idea is to classify the items. Return to stock, modify description, i.e. OEM, repair, break for parts or perhaps resale as bargain items, this last being prime for a New Year email marketing campaign. It is essential to describe such items accurately. Avoid vague terms such as ‘almost new’.
Irritating though returns are, if they are handled well, customers will come back for more.