August 22nd, 2016 • Workflow
Every retail business has to deal with returns, but not every business does it well. In a world where your competitor’s website is just a click away, how you handle returns might just be the way you sink or swim.
However, as many business owners know, sometimes even a comprehensive returns policy doesn’t work out as planned. Customers complain about the policy being too confusing, while employees might grouse about it being difficult to execute and time consuming. If your return process is disorganized and handled only with emails jumping back and forth, you might end up returning more orders than the ones being shipped!
An ineffective returns policy can also pummel your inbox with too many emails including questions from your team, approval requests for refunds, status queries, etc.
It can feel like walking a tightrope. Does everyone know the return policy? How do you handle those exceptions that seem to fall between the cracks? Is everyone informed of changes and updates to the policy? Can anyone update me on the status of this specific return?
One way to not stress out about your returns is to automate the process. Automation will bring a lot of predictability and confidence as you will know exactly how each order is being handled and at what stage each order is in.
Here are five different scenarios where refund/return policies can get complicated, and ways in which automation can help.
There are many reasons why a customer might return a product. The product might not have been a right fit, didn’t match their expectations, or it could have been damaged in transit. In a manual process, the trouble for your business begins when a customer labels the returned package incorrectly or unwittingly gives a wrong reason for return.
The confusion can be cleared by putting up an online form that has options not only for starting a refund process but also for filling out more details on the reason for the return. Automating the process can also help your customer correctly label the type of return to use on the package they send back.
There are tons of other things that can throw a wrench in the manual process and hinder the turnaround time for closing refund/return cases satisfactorily. Delays in handling the processes, authorization approvals for charges on certain cases, getting returns restocked and inventoried post inspection, etc., can all stretch the time to process a refund.
A simple fix is to apply conditional steps for authorization. For example, you can set the process to revert when a refund is above a certain amount or a return type is clearly outside the policy guidelines. This will significantly save you time of going back and forth with clarification emails, inventorying, and restocking of returns.
When you have exchanges factored in your returns policy, things could get even more complicated. For example, unavailability of requested product/size and difference in price can be a nightmare for your staff. It also takes a process longer if you have to communicate with each of your customers in order to monitor and track an exchange request.
But if you have a system wherein the customers could enter an order number, price, quantity, etc., that would considerably lighten the load of the team handling the refunds/exchanges. A workflow automation solution can offer that and much more to ensure the exchange transaction goes smoothly.
If you own a traditional business establishment, the paper trails for returns and exchanges can be never-ending. It’s not much different when it comes to e-commerce sites, albeit they might have the audit trails in digital form. The customer complaints and ticket resolution processes might start out simple, but people on both sides of the transaction can soon grow impatient due to the confusion that follows.
Automating the process can simplify the communication by keeping all pertinent information in one place without having to scroll through many emails. It can avoid unnecessary subtext and save tempers from flaring. It is also a relief for customers to not repeat the details about their refund/return/exchange with yet another person. When customers experience a hassle-free refund process without being asked too many questions, chances are they will come back for more business.
One of the biggest pain points with returns is when part of a bulk order was damaged or partial returns that do not look all black and white. Having the option to record the quantity shipped and collect the quantity returned with all the important order details in one place puts you a step ahead of the process and allows for a faster processing.
An automated refunds workflow might be the best way to go given it is fairly simple to apply and lets you focus on more important tasks, such as growing your business. But you have to watch out not to pick a workflow software that is difficult to get used to. It is a pity to waste your time fidgeting with an automation tool that requires more attention that the real problem at hand.
With a workflow tool like Kissflow, the refund process is one of our nearly 50 prebuilt apps you can use as soon as you log in. Using Kissflow doesn’t require any tech-savviness; it is designed with the average user in mind and it helps you get things done faster. Sign up today and get your free trial for 30-day.