Let’s Talk Business for January 5, 2024

There’s an art to handling gift returns and there are strategies to help you transform them into valuable opportunities for building customer loyalty and business growth. This week continues the list of practices to create an army of loyal customers.

Ensure a consistent and seamless experience across all channels, whether customers make returns in-store or online. Integrating your online and offline systems not only improves efficiency but also enhances the overall customer experience. Additionally, returning things online has a bad reputation. If you can make it easy, people won’t hesitate to buy from you online in the future.

Cultivate a return-friendly culture within your business. Emphasize the importance of customer satisfaction to your team and empower them to handle returns with a positive mindset. A customer-centric approach builds trust and positions your brand as responsive and reliable. Don’t consider a return a failure but an open door to win them over in the future.

Train your staff on going beyond the transaction. Instead of a robotic exchange, actively listen to why they want to return. Is it the wrong size? Not what they expected? This opens the door to personalized recommendations, suggesting other products that better suit their needs.

Understand if it was a gift. Before you fall all over yourself apologizing, make sure you understand the nature of why they’re bringing it back. It could be that their significant other bought the wrong size or the cologne smells too much like his mother. Knowing this information can help you make a valuable recommendation and also provides an opportunity to build a relationship.

If the customer bought the item themselves and is dissatisfied, don’t just refund their money. Offer a discount on a similar item, a gift certificate, or store credit that incentivizes them to return. This shows you care about their satisfaction and want to keep them as customers.

Use returns as market research. Track what items are returned most frequently. Are there quality issues? Is the product description somehow misleading? Identifying common return reasons can help improve your product line and messaging. Analyze return patterns. Do certain categories see more returns? This data can inform your inventory management and marketing strategies for future purchasing.

Promote “second chance” items. Create a dedicated section for returned items in good condition and offer them at a discounted price. This attracts bargain hunters and clears out inventory.

Mastering the art of gift returns is not just about mitigating losses but seizing opportunities to strengthen customer relationships and drive business growth. By making it a good return experience, you can transform the post-holiday return season into a strategic advantage.

The Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce offers many resources to help you start, run, and grow your business–including our annual Leadership Emporia Academy, monthly Group Lunches, Ribbon Cuttings, Business After Hours events, Legislative Dialogues, and more. Stop by the Trusler Business Center at 719 Commercial St., call 620-342-1600, or visit our website at www.emporiakschamber.org to learn more.

# # #

“Let’s Talk Business” is a weekly column of the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce and Visit Emporia. The mission of the Chamber is to be proactive in creating an environment for business and community success, guided by the vision that positive attitudes promote positive actions. Contact us at 620-342-1600 or chamber@emporiakschamber.org and visit our website at www.emporiakschamber.org.