Post-holiday returns are the flip side of the holiday rush that not many people talk about. Retailers love the rush of sales they get every holiday – but the bane of their existence is the rush of returns that inevitably come after every holiday rush.
If you don’t handle your post-holiday returns well, your store could literally be swamped with angry, unhappy customers. Handle them well on the other hand, and you could actually win over new paying customers.
So how do you prepare your business for holiday returns?
==> Develop and Print Clear Policies
If your store has a somewhat informal return policy, such as “please the customer within reason,” it should be suspended during the holiday season. Such policies could work well throughout the year, but it’s impractical to deal with returns on a case by case basis when you’re dealing with an extremely high volume of returns.
Instead, develop a crystal-clear return policy and make sure it’s printed on all receipts. Make sure the return time limits, the condition of the item and how the refund will be processed are all clearly printed.
==> Train Your Staff on Your Policy
Make sure everyone on your staff is well-versed in your return policy. Doing practice runs with your staff is a good way to do your trainings.
Come up with different scenarios for people trying to process refunds. What if someone comes in with a damaged item? What if they don’t have their receipt? What if they come in after the return period? Run through these scenarios in training, as they’re likely to come up in real life.
==> Have Extra Staff on Hand
Don’t just have extra staff on hand for the actual holiday season. You often need extra staff on hand just to process the after-season refunds and questions.
If you don’t have enough staff on hand, you’ll have a mob of disgruntled customers crowding up your store, discouraging real customers from buying. On the other hand, great return customer service can win you real customers.
==> Preparing Your Online Business for Returns
The post-holiday season return rush doesn’t just apply to brick and mortar stores. Online stores need to prepare for this rush as well.
First of all, make sure the return address is very clear. Do you want people to send returns back to you? Or to your fulfillment company? The last thing you want is a hundred products stacked up in your office.
Make sure you talk to your fulfillment company about refunds. Prepare them for the volume and discuss how you want refunds handled. It’s common practice to restock products as long as they’re still in good condition.
Spending a little bit of time and energy on processing holiday returns can have a big impact on your customer satisfaction. Don’t ever take returns personally – it’s just part of the holiday season.