Retail Trends

Best practice for store returns – and how openbravo can help

3 min read

Allowing a customer to return a product is not a favor but a chance to showcase excellence in customer service and an opportunity for upselling. This needs to be understood by all the employees in a retail organization, but the reality is sadly often different.

Let’s take an example. You bought an electronic gadget, a calculator, in a store.  After a week it stops working so you call the retailer’s call center. You are told to return it to shop from which you bought it. Unfortunately, you are now in a different city. You asked the call center if you can return it to a different store. The answer is “no”. Your first interaction post-sale is already soured.

When you finally are back to the city where you purchased the product, you visit that store again. Inside the store, you approached the nearest till. The associate on the POS cannot help and points you in the direction of the customer service desk.

After standing in line for more than 20 minutes, the customer service associate tells you the calculator cannot be returned. You dispute this and eventually your case is escalated to a senior customer service executive. This person makes some enquiries and finally tells you that your product can be returned and you are given you a credit note.

The whole process has already taken more than an hour and lot of your energy. You take the credit note and came out of the shop like a warrior who won a war but lost a battle. While coming out, you made a promise to yourself to not buying anything from this store again.

A sour customer experience

This experience recently happened to me. So what went wrong?

After all, the retailer had a perfect return policy, and they managed everything right. The staff were well trained and they never forget to smile. Still, they lost a customer, possibly forever.

Now imagine the same story unfolding in  this manner. You find the issue in the calculator and you call the call center.  The call center representative identifies you from your phone number and greets you by your name. She checks your buying history and identifies the product you bought. She checks the return policy attached to the product, which says 100% return within the warranty period. She offers you two options: you can either come to the nearest store to where you are now, or you can schedule a time for the defective calculator to be picked up by a courier and the money will be charged back to your card or e-wallet.

You decide to return it to a nearby store.  You go in the store and return the product to the first till you see. The associate on the till scans the barcode and immediately issues you a voucher which you can use within the next 100 days.

You are delighted with the efficient customer service so you decide to use the voucher immediately to buy a different make of calculator. And while you are in the store, you remember that your son needs a new mobile phone, so you make an additional purchase – the upselling opportunity

How to make it happen

What you need to make this scenario come true is an integrated retail management solution in which the POS is connected to the back office. When I purchase the product, the associate has taken down my phone number and name, so the CRM is integrated to your POS. That means that when I call the call center, I can easily be identified.

As the product master data is accessible from the CRM, the representative can instantly call up the return policy for the product. And because the inventory management is centrally managed and all stores are connected, it was easy to offer customer with two easy choices. As a result, the customer is delighted.

I leave the store happy to visit again!

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