by Steve DiGioia, Featured Contributor
A LONG-TERM repeat customer is the goal of every business, one who continues to purchase from you time and time again. But what is it that keeps them coming back?
Is it low prices, a continual stream of coupons, loyalty programs, or late night operating hours? These are all good ways to attract a customer, but are these enough reasons to gain their trust and make them truly loyal?
I’m not talking about the famous ways retain giants Nordstrom, Zappo’s or L.L. Bean goes above and beyond to make their returns easier, even if you don’t have a purchase receipt. I’m taking about standing by your policy, whether overtly stated or not, about returning an item.
Case in point…
Shortly after this past Thanksgiving I took on the painstaking task, but actually lots of fun, of putting up my artificial Christmas tree. After taking out all the ornaments from the attic and having a living room full of boxes I setup the tree and quickly adjusted all the branches to form the perfect shape. Now just to plug it in and see the sparkling lights, but then…
Only two strands of the built-in lights worked. After about 30 minutes of checking all the electrical connections and about 100 individual lights I gave up and called the retailer where I purchased the tree from last year.
Fortunoff was my store of choice last year to purchase the tree and I hoped they could help me. A quick call to the local store was answered by “Les” who genuinely seemed to want to help me. There was no overt concern to make sure I had my original receipt from one year ago. No “20 questions” about what was wrong with the tree. Just a quick check into his computer brought up my account and he saw that the tree came with a 2 year warranty.
Les said that the tree will be replaced but the local store will not be able to give me the new one, I must contact the manufacturer. Not what I had hoped but understandable in this case. Les gave me the telephone number of the manufacturer to call that would handle the warranty directly and even emailed me a copy of my original invoice so I would have the item’s model number and complete proof of purchase.
As soon as I hung up from Les I contacted the manufacturer’s customer service rep who only asked me two questions: What is wrong with the tree and can I return the tree directly to their warehouse and pick up a new one.
Wow, that was easy!
Note: it did help that I was only approximately 30 minutes away from the warehouse.
How easy do you make it for your customers to return an item and keep them coming back for more?