Common small business mistakes have become a regular series here. Here’s the example of the day:
Feel bad after suggesting that daughter buy shoes in downtown Oakville rather than at a chain. Now store won’t accept return.
@DonnaPapacosta, via Twitter
Ouch! You want to gain more business; you want to beat the big chains. In order to do that, you have to be at least as good as the chain store, if not better. That means accepting returns, doesn’t it?
OK, before we bog down in a debate over accepting returns, I know that sometimes there are good reasons why not. My liquor store, for example, is legally barred from it, because it is considered “purchasing from an unlicensed wholesaler.” So I have to be creative to make customers happy without taking returns.
But here’s the bigger question: how are you doing? Are you comparing every service you offer, every policy you use, to the chain stores that compete for your business? If you loosened up, for the customers’ benefit, is it just possible that you would retain more satisfied customers, and be more profitable in the end?
Do you have examples? Together, we are going to try to help each other out of these most common, deadly mistakes. You can use real world examples, real small businesses. Write it up, take a picture, or shoot a short video. Take care not to embarrass the offenders! Key point: include suggestions on how to do it right!
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Good topic, Becky. I don’t have a specific example to share, but just a general comment on returns. In an age in which even the small stores can go paperless with their records — storing your purchase in their database — I don’t understand the persisting requirement to bring in a receipt. If you give them your phone number or credit card (perhaps even just the last four digits) they should be able to find you in their system. Having to keep receipts is unwieldy and requires an extra step for the customer. Not to mention that some stores still post the entire credit card number and expiration on them, which then becomes a privacy/identity theft risk.
Those are my general thoughts. That said, I’ve had mostly good experiences with returns. I’ll be interested to read what others have to say.
Donna Papacosta says
Thanks for sharing my daughter’s experience. I have to say that on the whole I have had only good experiences with the smaller stores in downtown Oakville. That’s why I was so surprised at the “policy” of this one!
Becky McCray says
Mark, that’s a great suggestion to use the accessible technology to give better customer service.
Donna, your story is a great reminder to all of us independent retailers. I’m glad you tweeted it.
I’m not sure if this can be regarded as a mistake, but I’ve been searching for a place to stay in Europe for my vocation and it turned out to be very hard. I was looking for something small and cozy in a rural town. It turned out that many of the hotels there didn’t have an online booking form. So I needed to contact every single one of them to find out their rates and availability. Most of the owners didn’t even respond my emails, or it took them more than two days to respond, so I had to call. I really don’t think they care for attracting new customers…
Becky McCray says
Daria, that is a mistake. I think we can make a pretty good story out of that! Thanks.