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Is Somebody Trying to Screw You?

You think your return policy is quite liberal. Somebody still tries to take advantage of you.
You think your layaway policy is quite liberal. Somebody still tries to take advantage of you.
You think your giftwrapping policy is quite liberal. Somebody still tries to take advantage of you.

No matter what wonderful, friendly, customer-oriented, liberally-applied service you offer, there is always that one customer who will try to take advantage of it and you. Don’t take it personally. It isn’t you, it is her. She does that with everyone. She always pushes the boundary.

There are two ways to deal with her.

Either tighten up your policies so restrictive and enforce them so tough that she stops doing business with you altogether. Or simply allow her to do what she wants and chalk it up to the cost of doing business.

The first way, however, doesn’t solve the problem. The tighter your policies and the tougher you enforce them, the more boundary pushers you will have. Since these customers are a real pain the neck for your staff, all you accomplish is to upset more people including your front line workers who are the face of your business.

The second way is much better. First understand that the vast majority of your customers are not out to screw you. They love you. The few who actually take advantage of you are exactly that – a few. Embrace them. Love them. Shower them with affection for being customers and you very well might even convert them into partners who work for the mutual benefit of both of you.

Plus, when you make your policies so liberal that it is almost impossible for someone to try to take advantage of you, you eliminate much of the negative feelings your staff might have towards certain customers, feelings, by the way, that can be felt by everyone in the store.

Make your policies liberal, then make them even more liberal. Do you allow returns? Instead of 30 or 60 days, give them a year to change their mind. Give them a store credit if they don’t have a receipt. We once took back a large boxed item that had our competitor’s sticker on it. It was a product I knew I would sell quickly so it was a win-win. The customer was happy and I was, too.

Then empower your staff to make your customers smile by breaking the rules whenever possible. It makes your staff feel more important, makes them happier, too.

Most of your customers will have a receipt, will be in quickly, will not give you any hassles – no matter how you determine your return policy. So make your policy over-the-top liberal and you make everyone happy – except maybe the gal who really did want to screw you.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS This goes for return policies, but also any policy you might have. Make it in the favor of the customer. Make it as easy for her to understand and use as you possibly can. The more restrictions and disclaimers, the more it turns her off. More than likely she will never use the most liberal part of that policy. But both she and your staff will be happier when you gladly give so much leeway.

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