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Returns and the Customer Service Experience

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The weeks and months after the winter holidays tend to be heavy on returns­—and retailers’ return policies can greatly impact future customer loyalty.

Retailers, on average, expect 11 percent of their 2018 annual sales to be returned, the National Retail Federation reports.

More than 70 percent of consumers say a positive experience when making a return impacts their future shopping habits, according to recent research from Optoro, a U.S. technology company. Optoro works with retailers to help reduce financial losses due to returns and excess inventory.

The Optoro research also shows that customers value flexible return policies and may change where they shop if they think a return policy is too rigid.

Applied to Retail
Like every other interaction with a shopper, a return provides retailers an important customer service opportunity. Consider how you can make the return experience positive, even if a customer’s request seems unreasonable.

To satisfy a customer making a return, look for ways to offer in-store credit for items you might not normally take back.

For example, having an equipment rental department may give you some flexibility. If a frustrated customer wants to return a used power tool, you could accept the return, give store credit and then use the tool in the rental department.

About Kate Klein

Kate is profiles editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. She reports on news and industry events and writes about retailers' unique contributions to the independent home improvement sector. She graduated from Cedarville University in her home state of Ohio, where she earned a bachelor's degree in English and minored in creative writing. She loves being an aunt, teaching writing to kids, running, reading, farm living and, as Walt Whitman says, traveling the open road, “healthy, free, the world before me.”

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