Having been on the inside of product and service based businesses, I can tell you that it’s not pleasant, or easy, for anyone to navigate those waters. What do you do? What ground (if any) do you stand on? Further still, what if the customer makes demands you aren’t ready to meet?
Owning your own business and selling your stuff means business can easily feel incredibly personal (I know. My domain name is my freakin’ name.). An email from a coaching client who says “I am not thrilled with our sessions so far and want a refund. I’m an unhappy customer” does not need to mean you run for the hills and throw all of your money over you shoulder on the way out of town. A note from a photography client demanding a disk of all of the images you shot doesn’t mean a night spent rendering files to make her happy. Not as long as you have policies in place to protect your business and your sanity.
Repeat after me: I am not a mean person for standing by my business. I will work to find resolution, not to be a doormat.
Creating a stand out customer experience isn’t about a “whatever it takes” attitude (unless that’s true to your brand). It’s about building a foundation for a long term mutual respect and admiration, even when the buyer might not have had their best experience with you.
That foundation, my friend, is a solid set of policies. Consider this your official permission slip to stand firm in what you stand for…. once you have the goods to back it up. Like these guys:
“We stand behind our goods and services and want customers to be satisfied with them. We’ll always do our best to take care of customers—our philosophy is to deal with them fairly and reasonably; we hope they will be fair and reasonable with us as well.”
“You have 365 days to return an item to us in its original condition.”
Marie Forleo’s B-School
“We are fully committed to helping you change your business and your life. You can test drive the course for 2 Modules, until March 21st, 2015. If you do the work and don’t feel we’ve delivered on our promise, we’ll happily refund 100% of your money. To be eligible for a refund, we require your completed homework from all available Modules. This means you must take action in this program. We know that if you take action and do the B-School work, you’ll get results. If you do the work and don’t get value, then we don’t deserve your money and we’ll cheerfully refund you 100% of your tuition.”
“Costco customers who need to return merchandise or to exchange it can visit any Costco warehouse for immediate assistance. This retailer offers full refunds on all products. Certain items such as televisions, cellular phones, camcorders, computers, cameras and projectors need to to be returned within 90 days of purchase to be considered for a refund.”
Martha Beck’s Life Coach Training
“All Martha Beck Life Coach Training participants may request a refund until the Refund Window closes. The Refund Window is open from your initial registration date until the day after your fourth class in the training (dates will vary). To request a refund, email Training Coordinator Abigail Steidley at LCTcoord@marthabeck.com. Abigail will reply to your request and you’ll be required to return your training materials (binder and journal) as directed. Once those are received, we’ll refund whatever you have paid, less a $700 service fee (you are also responsible for your cost to return materials). The service fee will not be applied to any future training or events. We will not offer refunds after the Refund Window closes.”
In any exchange of time, services, or goods, a solid set of policies can save your hide (and your business) IF they are in place before the transaction begins.
Many new business owners fall into one of two categories:
1) Copy/paste policies directly from Google or (a step up) from swipe copy inside a paid program written by a lawyer.
2) Write policies on the fly as they come up, but never sooner.
Do you find yourself in either of those camps? Here’s the good news: you are not alone. We’ve all been there, done that. Probably all of it, maybe at the same time.
In the case of #1, many of these policies may or may not apply to the particular business at hand. You end up with lengthy legalese that doesn’t feel like it belongs in your business and that no one actually reads (hello, iTunes Terms & Conditions – who actually reads those all the way thru?!)
For #2, you’re left being reactive instead of proactive, adding to your list of policies (most likely) after you’ve been thru the ringer on a particular topic. Maybe someone copied your work or requested a refund after the product was delivered or wanted to reschedule an appointment with no notice. Hey hey! Time for a new policy! Let’s jot that one down…. Oy.
Now here’s my big ol’ disclaimer: I AM NOT A LAWYER. I’ll leave it to you to find one who can help you get your documents in a row. But do that, okay? Cool. Carry on.
Want the better news now?
You can create policies that feel and act like your brand AND provide you with another level of customer service before you ever need it. In fact, we dive into this even further inside Module 2 of Your Signature Experience. Because when you pay attention to every inch of your customer’s experience of your brand, you show them that they matter. By putting policies in place, you tell your customers you are professional, you have considered all of their needs (even the unlikely ones), and building trust becomes thatmuch easier.
Want the worksheet to get your policies nailed down once and for all? Join us inside Your Signature Experience for branded policies, a stand out customer experience, and so much more.