"Here's one strategy for handling returns from unhappy customers:
Let them know you don't accept returns. Explain that it must be a user error. Explain that the customer must have lacked care or intelligence or ethics. Explain that you're willing to accept a return, but just this one time. And finally, explain that you're now going to put the person on a list, and you'll never sell to him ever again.
Do all this in one continuous statement, without pausing for a response.
This has happened to me more than once.
What puzzles me is this: if you're going to give the customer a refund, why not make them delighted by the process? Why not create an aura of goodwill? At the very least, both of you will have a better day. Even better, perhaps one day someone will mention your company to this former customer--I wonder what he'll say?
One tip: if you say your meta-goal out loud (or jot it down) before you start an interaction, you're more likely to consistently create the outcome you seek, not the one you hyperventilate yourself into."
This article means alot to me. I recently pondered heavily over how I should treat missing packages. One of my customer's package might potentially be lost, and it is not the company's fault that the package got lost, it is definitely not the customer's fault, and if I have to blame someone, of course it is the postman's fault! However, I cannot blame the postman OR the postal service since I used this service understanding that I have to bear the full responsibility of any losses. What now? Where do we go from here?
Well..... I could indicate in my terms and conditions page that customers have to bear the full responsibility of losses. If they want an ease of mind, they simply pay for the registered article service. Fine. However, when missing packages really do happen, is that the way to treat a customer by telling her "I am sorry, there is nothing I can do?"
That mentality made me really uncomfortable. I could not bring myself to do it. While I may not incur the wrath of the customer by telling her "sorry", I definitely will not gain her respect nor loyalty. As a business, that's the worst - an apathetic customer. As a consumer, that's the worst - to know I have made a purchase from a profit driven company who doesn't really care. My decision became clear. If the package really got lost, I will either reship the customer's package at no extra cost, or if I have ran out of stocks, do a refund for the customer. While that might seem a hefty price to pay for being customer focused, I am pretty sure I will have much more to gain in the long run.
And if you are thinking to yourself, "what about customers who try to abuse this system?" My answer to you is, "Trust and respect." If some companies in Japan can abide by an honour payment system and survive rather profitably, so can perk. :)