5 Return Management Best Practices


Few things, if any, make a customer happier than when you fix a situation that went wrong. With that single act, you can earn dozens of word-of-mouth referrals and strong trust and loyalty for years to come. When consumers find a brand they like, they stick with them.

So even though returns don’t involve the most pleasant conversations, they can actually be your company’s biggest marketing and reputation-building asset. How do you currently handle your returns?

As you do, make sure you follow these best practices for making the most out of your returns:

  1. Figure Out Why Returns Are Happening

While returns do present a huge business opportunity to enhance your reputation, sometimes they get out of control. You get many more than you want. And in that case, it makes good sense to take an analytical approach to learn why you’re getting so many returns.

Is the product low-quality? Do you sell online, and do your products look a lot better online than they do in person? Are your customers acting irrationally?

  1. See How Much Returns Cost You

Most companies grossly underestimate how much returns really cost them. To know whether the problem really is a huge one you need to deal with, measure the full cost of returns to the best of your ability.

Some companies have gone as far as creating their own return management teams with their own profit-and-loss statements.

  1. Make As Few Hoops to Jump Through As Possible

Your customer’s already not in the greatest mood. The more difficult you make the returns process, the more likely you cost yourself their business for the rest of their lives. Many large retailers ask questions as to why you’re making the return. But, they don’t ever refuse the return. At the very least, the customer should get in-store credit.

  1. You May Be Able to Use Returns As a Negotiating Chip

Sometimes, return issues are not in your control. If you don’t manufacture the product, and it’s not meeting customer expectations, you have to address that with the manufacturer. You may have to tell them you can no longer carry their product if they can’t improve its quality or reduce the price.

  1. Reward Customer Loyalty

Customers that have been with you for years expect that you should give them an easy time with their return. After all, they’ve spent a fair amount of money with you.

Not all companies make returns easy for long-term customers. If you appear rigid, inflexible, and unaccommodating, your customers will take their business elsewhere. And they might tell their friends and family to do the same.

Do you use those 5 return best practices? If not, consider adding them to your mix so you grow a stronger business with more loyal customers.