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Ep. 136 How to Improve Your Return Process

by | Smart AF Show

return process

How to Improve Your Return Process

Most businesses deal with some type of returns or cancellations, and getting this right is crucial to customer satisfaction. Over 90% of shoppers say they will NEVER shop with a business again after a poor return experience. A return or cancellation of service does not mean the relationship is over, it can be just the beginning.

In this episode, I review a couple of my recent review experiences and give actionable strategies for you to improve your return process and get SMART with your customer service and relationship building.

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION –

(transcription is auto-generated)

SAF 136

[00:00:00] Torie: 95% of people say that if there is a bad review process, they will never buy from you again.

Hey, what’s up. It’s Torie Mathis and I am here yet again for another episode myself because Mr. Sean is working on museum stuff, but I have had a couple of experiences in the last couple of months that I really want to talk about. I was talking about things that drive me crazy, and this is definitely one of those things I have.

Quite a bit like, like everybody, right? Like I have bought a lot of stuff online more in the last couple of years than I have, but I’ve always been a big online shopper. And anytime you buy things online, you always have the risk of needing to return them. And, and really this is with anything like anything, any type of service that you sign up for things, there are times that like it’s time to cancel the service.

And then, so I think that this goes in the same vein when I want to talk about this. The latest one is I want to talk about a couple that went really bad and what things could be, could have been done, like so much different. So the first one is I apparently have Evernote. Like I can remember having Evernote 10 years ago, somehow, apparently, I have Evernote again, I got an email that said that they were charging me 69. 99 for the year. And I immediately emailed them back saying I haven’t used your service. And I don’t know how long you can check and see, I’ve never loved it and said, yo, I’d like to cancel, please.

Don’t bill me again. Can you give me my money back? You know what? I heard nothing back. Right. Like that is the worst. When you want to make a change to like your billing or to return something and you hear crickets. But I’m going to say like, I’m going to keep going after that one. That is definitely not the worst one.

I recently saw an ad for some very amazing yoga pants on Instagram. You know, I’ve bought some things off Instagram, lately. And so Instagram knows that I will buy things off Instagram. And luckily I’ve had a pretty decent run. These yoga pants, however, we’re a little bit not great. I bought four pairs.

They were all the exact same size. However, two pairs fit and two pairs were made for miniature of your children, like there was no stretch to them. It was like night and day, even though I bought all the exact same size, I bought them right around, like right before Thanksgiving. So they got delivered before Thanksgiving.

We went out of town. I came back the two didn’t fit. I contacted them. I emailed them once we got back for Thanksgiving stuff. And Riley’s birthday was at that time. So like we had all these things going on. And I emailed them and I said, Hey I didn’t see anything about like how to return something on their email or anything or on my receipt.

And so I just replied to the email that I got my order and I said, Hey, just, I need to exchange two pairs. They’re way too small. I don’t know who these are made for. They’re the same size as the other ones, but they don’t are not going to work for me. And they came back and said, You can only do them seven days within seven days of getting them.

We don’t accept returns after that, which is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. What’s the difference between seven days and eight days? Like literally it was the eighth day and they were like, Nope, can’t do it. So I emailed back and forth several times and I was like, look, what the hell am I supposed to do with these?

I was gone, it was a holiday. Like I have all these things. I did not realize I had seven days. Usually, everybody’s 30 days. Like I just assumed I didn’t even look. But I knew that they would accept the return. So if they didn’t fit, I re you know, exchange them or whatever I needed to do. They weren’t cheap.

So I know that you know, they’re, they’ve got some extra padding in there helping out with the shipping. I think I ended up getting free shipping from them, but it was like the super long shipping. So it took like two weeks for me to get these pants. And so they said finally they will accept an exchange.

However, they required me to take pictures of them and send them to them. They had to be in the regular packaging, which I told them I’m like, the tags were still. I there, I still have the packaging. I even have the envelope that it got sent and I have everything. They don’t work. I didn’t wear them.

I didn’t wash them. I didn’t like that. Literally. I can’t even get them all the way over my big butts. I’m muscular. These are not going to work for me. These are for stickers. I am not a stick person. And so they required me to send all these pictures into them and to, I had to all these like different required, like so many, so much of a hassle, so many hoops, and I have to pay for it to be returned.

Myself, I have to pay for it with tracking because they want the tracking. And he said, you know, you better do tracking just in case because we’re not going to do anything. And then once you get them back to her, like, it was like 30 to 45 days for them to switch them out. Like, it is a huge ordeal. And they told me I couldn’t return them.

I had to exchange them. So they don’t even want him back. They, I can exchange it for another size, but then I have to pay for shipping for the next ones to come back. And so what a hassle, like, I will never ever order from these people again, like one, their sizing is pretty funky and two, like what a hassle, like obviously if I’m buying pants, there’s a really big chance that they’re not going to fit, like to make people like, I wish I would have realized like now I’m going to be super, super aware of what someone’s return policies because this is stupid. Especially since I have returned, like I bought clothes online shoes, you can buy shoes online and return them. You can buy what glasses even have them send you like a bazillion pairs. You pick the one you want, and then you just send the other ones back.

Like returns should not be an issue these days at all. However, I have some very interesting data here. So 95% of people say that if there is a bad review process, they will never buy from you again. So I am not the only one in this, right? This is like totally a thing with people that if you are crappy with your return process.

It is definitely possible that they will never buy from you again and 72% of customers will actually leave you a bad review if you have a bad experience with returning something with them. So this is like a really big red flag that businesses really need to figure this out, especially because there are so many businesses now.

Amazon, Target, Kohl’s like all of these things, like even like all the office stores, like they make it so easy for you to buy and return that somehow, like if you’re a smaller business or if you’re a bigger business, like you have to figure this out to actually make it work for you and to make it work for your business.

It’s crazy in researching this. There are actually a lot of companies now that will do no return. No what do they call it? No return returns where you actually don’t even return the product at all. They’re just like, keep it. Here’s your money. Because it’s so much more expensive for them to actually pay for shipping and to actually like do all these things that it’s less for you to just keep the product.

I know we’ve had that a couple of times buying things on Amazon and things that didn’t work out. Which is lame because like, I don’t want the product and then they’re like, keep it. I’m like, yeah, but they don’t want it. Like, I know you’re saying like, it’s better for you that you don’t have to pay for shipping, but now I have something I don’t want, what am I supposed to do with it now?

Luckily it’s usually like smaller things, however, that is not going to work. So making a return or making a cancellation process work for you and work for your customers is not only like keeping your customer happy, so they don’t leave a review, but it’s actually making it so that they are more likely to buy for you.

And in my research, I found that if your return policy is much easier like everybody knows about like Nordstrom has always been very famous about. Every you buy, you can return anything. And I think they actually have changed that because there were so many people that were buying super fancy dresses and returning them that they actually have tweaked their policy slightly, but still like you can return almost anything there.

However, when policies are like that, yes, you are going to have some people violate those policies. Unfortunately, you can never do anything about those people. However, people are much more likely to be more confident in their buying and more likely to spend a lot more with you because they’re not worried about it.

So though it may feel like if I have these loose. Easy return policies. It means that people are going to take advantage of me or people are going to like always return things. But the thing is, is that people aren’t returning things just to return things like nobody wants to waste their time either like legitimately the product didn’t work for them or they want to exchange it for something that does, like, none of those things are a bad thing.

Those are actually good things just because they are returning something. A lot of times doesn’t even mean that they don’t want to be your customer anymore, which is wild. When people do this, I ordered these clothes for Bella. They were underclothes for Bella and they had a special on there and it said, you know, no, no questions asked for a return on your first pair.

That was the key. It was your first pair. I thought that it was your first order. So I saw, you know, easy return, but like, it was big woo easy return. And so they had a special deal where you could buy like one for one price or you could get like five for like such a discounted thing. And I thought, well, they let you return super easy.

I’ll just get the five. And if they don’t work, then I’ll just return them. No. Well, I get them and Bela liked two of them and three of them, she didn’t like. And so I contacted them. I’m like, Hey, just want to let you know, like three of these didn’t work. I want to return them or just exchange them even better.

Like, I’ll just exchange them for the two that, that she did like, so I’ll send those back and they’re like you can send back one. What do you mean I can send back one pair? They’re like, yeah. Free returns on one pair. I’m like, okay. But 

I have five because you had a special deal on five and you said it was no problem returning.

And they’re like, yeah, no problem. With return one pair. They’re like, it’s undergarments. Like we can’t, we don’t accept returns. Like what were you going to do with the? They’re like, well, we can’t use it. So we do some donation thing. I’m like, well, they’re the exact same pair. So only one was opened. So take that one.

The other two are the exact same, the packages, like the seals, are not even broken, just take those ones back and then exchange them. And she’s like, no. And like, why are you going to do this? Like, this makes no sense your policy is stupid. I literally told them their policy was stupid. Like, why don’t you just take them back?

At least let me exchange them. Let me do something here. Keep me a happy customer rather than just pissing me off and making me never want to buy from you again. Like I could be a long time customer. My daughter is 10. She likes the product. But if you’re going to do this, I will never buy from you again.

She’s like, well, since you’ll never buy from me, we’ll let you return them. I’ll give you your money back. And she sent me a return slip thing for all five pairs. Like you have got to be kidding me. Okay. For. She likes to have them. I want to be your customer, but you suck. So redo the return for the three she doesn’t want and see you later. And they did it, took them a while, but they finally did. And the process was, she said, because you said you’ll never buy from us again. We’ll let you do the return. We’ll you know, what, if you would’ve actually did the return the first time or did it in a way that made me still like you and not fought me on everything and then still returned it like man and my daughter liked your product. The man I’m not buying anything from you like that, distaste that you leave in somebody’s mouth like that all could have been worked out. Now, unfortunately, this girl was just following policy, but this girl did not finesse the thing at all. Like she did such a bad job.

I believe the first email she responded to was like, Hey, our policy is just the first pair. And she said, Hey. Like, like nothing else, like nothing formal, like I’m all down for like being, being, you know, Chitty, chatty and stuff like that and email, but like literally that’s all it said. So it was a little bit weird in the whole entire thing could be prevented by having a better process set up and not saying that like the customer is always right, but you can always turn a return into like, your goal should always be to have a return or a cancellation be a positive time. I actually had a masterclass subscription and it’s an annual subscription and the subscription is fantastic. Like, go check out masterclass.com.

They have video classes and they are with like big well-known people and it is all over the place. Like they have makeup and business and cooking and golf and singing and filmmaking, like, and it’s with like the big names like people that you would totally know and amazing that they got them to, to do these classes, but in everything else that I have, like, I just don’t have time right now to take them.

And just like Evernote, like the charge came through and I got the email that said, hooray, you know, we renewed your masterclass subscription. And I emailed him back and I’m like, dude, super busy right now. I love your classes, but I can’t do it this year. Can you not charge me again? And then can I get this refunded? And she was like, Hey, like super nice. No problem. I already processed the refund. It should be back with you. Blah-blah-blah like so nice. And I actually emailed her back, best customer service ever. Thank you so much. When I do have more time, I will run back because you are fantastic. And I told her that like, how refreshing is that?

However, you know, saying that, like, it, it was so good. Like no questions asked here you go. Probably better to keep me as a customer. She could’ve offered, like, I know you don’t have time, but what if we gave it to you for half off or 60% off or something like that. And you still stuck around, like, I probably would have done it, especially because they were so nice.

So sometimes that’s an option. Like you can take a return or take an exchange or take a cancellation and turn it into more business because maybe, especially if somebody says that they don’t have time or you have something like that, that’s definitely a time that you can just adjust their plan rather than get rid of them as a client, even though like, I will totally be back because I know they have a high quality product.

Like, that’s just not what season I am this year. I have other things I need to do. And so I noticed that, like, I haven’t been doing the classes, so it was very nice that they returned my money and canceled me. So changing what a customer is actually doing, I think is a really good option. And I have had this happen one other time.

I had a piece of software that I was using. I don’t remember what it is. It was like, Like to make social media, like little videos or something, and I canceled and it was hilarious like you go into your account and it goes, you go to cancel. And it popped up this window. And it had like the two owners and it’s like, okay, pick which one, like it’s somebody’s fault.

Pick one of them to blame. And like, this is Dave and this is Mike. And like, to get to the next screen, you had to actually pick one of them to blame. I don’t know who either of them I’m like. And so I picked one of them and then the next screen said, Hey, we, you know, we understand blah, blah. I said some things I said, how about we give you the next three months for free?

And then we’ll start billing again after that. And if you don’t like it, then can go ahead and cancel. Like that is so fantastic if you’re going to lose somebody already, like why not give them the opportunity to stay for free or for a super discounted price? And of course, I will code go. No. I don’t want to use you for free.

So yes, I did it. I said, sure. I’ll do it for free for three months. And you know, now, like I’m going to try to use the software, you know, for the three months. And then once I get billed again like maybe I’ll find a better use for it, or maybe I’ll cancel again at that time. And who knows what they’ll do at that time.

So you really can take a cancellation and turn it into a positive and this, this case, it was like such a funny experience that like, I kind of liked them a little bit more. They have a sense of humor. They gave me something for free. And even though like, we didn’t break up on bad terms, they actually got me to stick around.

And I think that, like, you really can take that as a lesson of like, if somebody is coming to cancel or to return, how can you turn that into something lighthearted something so nice. Something funny, something to keep them going and to keep them liking you because customer loyalty, doesn’t just come when you purchase something.

It comes with like every single exchange. It comes with every engagement that you have with them. And this is an opportunity to turn things into something actually really nice. I have a couple other ones. I, what was that one? So Instagram. I saw that they had this cleaning service on Instagram and it was like, you know, try our cleaning service. See if it’s in your area and you can get a full three hour cleaning for $30 and then we’ll put you on plan where you get X amount, like it like almost banks, your money, and then they send out the cleaner to your house and they do all the scheduling for it. So you don’t have to worry about that. Then all their people are fully vetted and they’re supposed to be so great.

And like super top notch cleaners. I had this guy come. It was so awful. He came with no cleaning supplies. He asked to use a broom. He asked for some other things. He just, he was so nice. But it just, wasn’t what I was looking for. Like, I felt like I had Bella clean and then I had to go back up and I’m like you didn’t wipe this down.

And then I really like, like in one of the bathrooms. Clean kind of clean the bathroom ish. And then I noticed that the door to the, like the room where the toilet is, was closed. And so I opened it up is definitely not cleaned. I’m like, did you clean in here? He’s like, there’s a toilet in the bathroom, bro. Like, of course, there’s a toilet in there. And I like, I hate having to do that. Like I just want stuff done. Right. I understand that. Like, sometimes you have to make some suggestions and things, but when it’s something like that much, like, oh, like it made me so uncomfortable. And so then the guy at the end is like, well, hopefully, I, you know, you schedule me for.

I don’t like, man, I don’t know what you’re going back is so bad. And so they scheduled me somebody else to come back in like two weeks or whatever. And then, so I had to like rearrange my schedule to make sure I was going to be there and. 15 minutes before I get something that said they canceled. I’m like, dang man, how’d you do that?

Then they scheduled me for somebody else and scheduled it on a day that I didn’t even say I was available. So I mean like, you know what, the first one was bad. The second one messed up my schedule now like I’m already uncomfortable. I’m like, you know what? I don’t even want to do that. So I went to the website.

I’m like, how the heck do I cancel this thing? So I go through and they’re like because we gave you a discounted rate for your first cleaning. If you don’t use our services for six months, then you have an early termination fee and you have to pay back all that money from the first cleaning. I’m like, I don’t care.

I will pay whatever I’ve made a mistake. My bad. I don’t want you. That’s why it’s a bad idea. And so I went through the thing I’m like, yes, cancel. I was like, you made me uncomfortable. The guy did a crappy job. I felt bad. I don’t want to publicly rate these people. The scheduling was crappy. Like, I don’t want this at all.

And nobody ever talked to me. I went to the next page and they’re like, well this time, you know, we hope that you come back, but we’re going to waive the fee for you. And I was like, That was so great because I was totally prepared to cancel and pay whatever I had to, to buy out my little contract I screwed up and did.

And so now, rather than being like that shitty company, I’m like, they weren’t for me, you see how, like, just doing something like that changed my frame of reference for them from I don’t like you and I will never do work with you too. It wasn’t for me, maybe you like it. Totally different there with that one small thing.

So, you know, whatever your cancellation policy, whatever your return policy is like, you really have to have it set up ahead of time. And you have to have it kind of scripted out. Like if it’s not you doing it, which hopefully like, if you’re the business owner that it’s not, you, like, hopefully you have somebody to help you out with this, but whoever it is like this stuff needs to be scripted ahead of time.

So you’re not like, Hey we don’t return like that. Yo, that’s not how you want returns to go. Like if you looked at the masterclass one, like, wow. Like they were like a shiny example of how returns should be. It was beautiful. Do you want to have that stuff scripted and that way, especially because sometimes when things are canceled or things are returned, especially when we’re the business owners.

You don’t like me and like, you feel a little defensive and so you never want to respond to somebody’s cancellation or their return in a defensive way. And so pre-think of this and think of how can I turn this around into a positive, how can I keep their customer loyalty? How can I maybe just change it?

So that it’s something that better fits them? How can I give them maybe like a couple of months for free so that, and then maybe they’ll, they’ll realize they really do love us. Like what can you do? To make it work for both of you, but you gotta figure it out beforehand. So I think that’s one, the first step is definitely like, how can you figure this out beforehand, write out what your policy is and you have to make it clear and don’t try to be tricky.

Like, I really think those underpants people, I think they were being tricky with the first pair. Like, why would you let me order five pairs? And then only let me return one of them. Like if. It was a little tricky. I should have read clear my bad, however, a little tricky, like you want to make sure that your policy is super clear, especially if it’s not just like a normal 30 day return, like with the seven days, like, make that pretty obvious because that’s not normal.

And you got to make it easy for people. Don’t make them hunt for how to return. Like, it really is easier if, if you make it easy and you make it really clear. And if you make it looser, it doesn’t mean that people are gonna abuse it more. It actually means that people will feel comfortable buying more from you.

So be Nordstrom, if you can like eat those shipping costs if you can because if you eat that shipping costs a couple of times, I think it’s going to happen. It’s like you have to pay for the internet. It’s like you got to pay the credit card fees because that’s how your business makes more money. Figure out how you can work that into your cost of business.

Maybe you raise your prices just a tiny bit in order to do that for more people and people are going to be more confident to buy more things for you. So you definitely want to make returns or cancellations as convenient as possible, and definitely make them as hassle-free like these thing, yoga, pant people that I have to send pictures and stand on my head and do all these things.

Like that’s wasting everybody’s time. Look at how many emails have I sent back and forth that it could have been written out very simply scripted out and been just simple. And then I would be telling you how great they are. And not that you shouldn’t buy. You know, and I don’t want to have to do that.

So doing it as hassle-free as possible. And it, you really got to think about like, who are your customers? Like if it is a woman buying yoga pants and women come in all different shapes and sizes. Like Bella is a stick person. She is tall and long legged and thin like that is not me. I am short and muscular.

Like. People come in all these different sizes. So if it’s something like that, you have to realize that it’s a big chance that it’s not going to fit. Not that people are trying to like wear them to the gym and then return them used like people aren’t doing that. People want the awesome yoga pants.

And if this one didn’t work out, let them exchange it. Like, like I told you, these pants weren’t cheap. They could have worked that into their pricing. So that it would have been a little bit easier for everybody. If you’re doing stuff for kids, like kids tastes change kids, you don’t know what size they are.

Like you have to have some empathy with who your customers are so that you can meet them where they at and make that return or cancellation policy work for them, you know, with masterclass their customer is probably somebody who is busy. So knowing that and having maybe some way of downgrading, the offer probably would work because I guarantee that it’s not, I can’t afford a hundred or $200 a year.

I guarantee the issue they come up with is I haven’t been using. So, if you can give a solution of either a way that they could use it, or maybe they have a little bit less access, or maybe you just discount it because you know, they really like you. I had one what was it? I was buying something and I can’t, I went to cancel it and it was really great.

If I can find the email, like I will make it available to you. Like I’ll scribble out what there is, but it said like, just so you know, you’ve been our customer so long. Thank you so much. We love you, but you are grandfathered in and you actually get all of this stuff. Did you even know that? And if you cancel not only will you not have all of this, but you’re not going to get it again. If you want to come back, which we hope you do, you won’t get it at the price that you have. And they told me what price I was paying for it. In fact, new people. And it was like three times the price. And like you had like some startup fee and everything.

So let me see. So I went to the website. Sure enough. I have all kinds of stuff that I didn’t even know I had, but I wasn’t using the service. And so I kinda had to think like, if I’m not using this part of it, am I going to use all of this stuff? I didn’t know. I had, and sure enough, they were right. Like the new price is much higher. I’ve been using them for so long that I didn’t realize their prices went up. And I actually thought about. For about a week. And I was like, eh, I’m going to cancel, but they almost got me to stay because they showed me what I was going to be missing. And that FOMO is huge. So that is another thing. If, if you can tell them, especially if it’s some type of service, like maybe they don’t realize what they will be missing, what can you show them to, to talk them into.

And unfortunately for them, it didn’t work out. But for the guys that, like, I had to choose who to blame, and then I got the three months for free, like that did work. I stayed, I am still a customer of them. This other one, like, because time was the issue you giving me more is not fixing my problem and yeah, I have a little FOMO, but you didn’t fix like what my problem was.

So obviously if size is an issue, rather than having somebody return, you can always have someone exchange. They’re still your customer. And if they get the right size and they love you, they’re going to buy from you again. Like you should always let somebody exchange as easy as possible. Right. But if you’re, if the problem is time and you have a service, like realize that it might not be the money. It might be the fact that they don’t have enough time or they’re not utilizing it. So you’ve got to figure out how you can meet them to make it a win, win for everybody because returns and cancellations don’t mean that you’re breaking up forever. It doesn’t mean that they don’t like you.

It might just mean this one didn’t work or this time for me didn’t work or this isn’t my season right now, but you would rather have them leave the relationship happy and knowing that they might come back. Or they might tell their friends, oh, I know a company that sells yoga pants and if they don’t fit, you can just return them.

And they’re going to get you the size that you want. Like that’s what you want. You want people to rave about you. And when you have a positive experience like this in returning something, people absolutely will rave about you. That’s what you want.

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hi im torie
I help solopreneurs & biz owners (like you) use digital marketing to get more clients + make more money without a big budget, a lot of time, or losing your sanity. And I make it easy! 

You don’t need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to market your business. You don’t even need a lot of time.

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Hi! I'm Torie!

I help entrepreneurs (like you) use digital marketing to get more clients + make more money. And I make it easy! 

You don’t need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to market your business. You don’t even need a lot of time.

What you need is to be SMART.

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