Every signage business will have to face the challenge of an unhappy customer wanting a refund. Someone wanting their money back because the sign wasn’t installed on time or maybe the colour is not what they were expecting.
There’s no escaping from it. We live in a world where complaints are something that happens frequently, some of your clients are probably professionals at it. But do you measure the impact this has on your business? How much do you lose each year on giving refunds?
Personally, I think every complaint presents an opportunity and ultimately the end goal should be to reduce the number of refunds you are giving throughout the year.
So let’s focus on flipping those angry customers into brand evangelists!
What you need to do is engage with them with the key focus on working together to come up with a solution they deem acceptable. If you can, give them a few different solutions to ponder. The important thing to remember is that your customer ordered that job from you for a reason and the chances are they still need it for the same purpose so it really is in everyone’s best interest you try and deliver on your side of the deal.
What Are Main The Objectives?
- You want to stop the customer from going elsewhere
- You want to get the opportunity to fix it
Before you get into a tit for tat, he said/she said argument, it’s important to acknowledge with your customer that you are sorry they are not happy and that you will do what you can to help them and come up with a solution.
We’ve all been there. I had a situation with some hotel transport just at the weekend. I went straight into fight or flight mode and was ready for an argument with the hotel staff however the situation was very quickly diffused as soon as they said “We’re really sorry, what can we do to help?”
Once you get to that point, we need to establish if they actually eligible for a refund?
If They Are Eligible For A Refund
In this instance, the customer will hear nothing else until you say they are eligible for a refund. As soon as you make this clear, they will be more receptive to what you have to say.
Remind them that still require that signage job for the purpose they ordered it for and providing you can fix it within the required timescales for them, explain that you would like the opportunity to put it right.
I’ve never been a fan of fixing the job for the client AND giving them a discount on the job. There’s no guarantee of them coming back to you again. Instead, I prefer to be quite frank with them, explain that is not your policy but instead once you have fixed the job, would like the chance to show them this is not the norm when someone orders from you and give them a discount on their next job. Using this method not only saves your margin on this order but it’s also created a future sales opportunity.
If a client refuses that and says they want the job plus a refund on this order before they give you another chance, don’t fall for the carrot on the stick, the chances are they will not be returning anyway. You’ve done your best to fix the error but there does need to be some ground met in the middle.
If They Are NOT Eligible For A Refund
Similarly to before, you need to indicate this right at the start of the conversation. This clarifies the fact that you have a strict and established refund policy.
Again, recognise that they still have a purpose for the job they ordered and indicate your willingness to still try and help them in any way you can.
Obviously, it depends on what the issue was, the type of print job, what margin you are making etc but let’s use this as an example.
The customer has ordered some window graphics, they tried to do the artwork themselves, forgot to add bleed and some of their text has fallen outwith the safe zone. Subsequently, when it’s been trimmed down, some of the text has been cut off.
What I’d do in this instance is offer to help the client fix their artwork and offer them a discount on the reprint. If the value is low enough, meet them in the middle but offer something as a gesture of goodwill. The important thing to remember here is that you want to turn their negative experience into a positive one. Remember, you’ve invested a lot of time, effort and money to likely onboard those customers and you want them to return time and time again.
Most of the time, the customer will appreciate this and can often progress to become one of your biggest advocates. For the ones who don’t appreciate this, they’re probably not worth having anyway.
Measure Refund Saves
If you’re not doing this already, put a process in place to do so. Keep a track of who the customer was, what the product was, what solution was offered and what was accepted.
This helps you quickly identify trends either from serial complaining customers, which solutions are preferred to recurring issues and use the feedback to recognize potential issues in your production or customer service processes.
You can then track the lifetime value of that customer and see how much you saved by keeping that customer on board and how much difference that makes to your business over time.
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