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Solving the issue of product returns

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:product returns? electronics manufacturers?

Educate the customer. Customer education before and after the purchase is vital. Educating on the front-end of the purchase helps the customer better understand whether the product they're buying will do what they want. With more "bells and whistles" comes an increased need for product education. For instance, some car manufacturers and dealers provide DVDs to instruct buyers on how to use the Global Positioning Satellite and other functions offered on high-end cars, and offer post-sales sales classes on the weekends They also should go over various features with the new owner before they leave the loteven loading the owner's cellphone information into the car if it has a Bluetooth capability.

Offer delivery and set-up services to consumers for highly technical products. Accenture research reveals that offering value-added services can radically reduce returns often by as much as 20 percent, while generating additional revenue. In fact, given the benefits of reduced returns and improved brand image, a strong case can be made to offer value-added services without generating additional revenue. Doing the right thing is likely to add to the bottom line by reducing the cost of handling returns and contribute to customer satisfaction that may boost sales.

Invest in proactive customer service on high-cost/high-return products. Assisting customers before they have a chance to become frustrated and return an item is paramount. By demonstrating interest in the customer's success, retailers head off potential implementation and usage problems. They also strengthen their brands' images. One wireless device manufacturer worked closely with a wireless carrier to establish a proactive customer contact program for complex data devices sold at the carrier's retail store. By reaching out to customers in the first 24 hours after the purchase, the collaboration cut buyer's remorse returns by up to 20 percent.

Provide multiple service options. Customers value choice. They have different ideas about what is convenient, how they want to solve problems, and what services they will pay for. Moreover, people have widely differing preferences varying by age and gender. Some, for example, prefer self-help via the Web; others prefer telephone support or exchange or repair by mail. Other groups may prefer face-to-face interaction and speed of in-person support at a retail store. A retailer or communication carrier that provides a choice of service and support options enhances the customer's experience and can reduce return rates. More than two-thirds of all returns are ultimately labeled no trouble found, so in-person service centers can be particularly valuable remedies. They weed out no trouble found products before they become returns.

- David Douthit
??Senior Executive, Supply chain management group

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