The entire world of retail is built around the customer and we’re always striving to provide the best possible service we can to keep them coming back again. There is no end to the ideas, methods and practices we implement into our businesses to ensure our consumers return and keep the money coming in.
But what happens when you have one of those awkward questions thrown at you? The type that almost hits you like a curve ball you’re not ready for? The type that leaves you stumped and makes you start mumbling a string of words that even makes you question what the hell you’re talking about…
Here are a few answers for those hard-hitting questions that you just simply dread:
Customer: “I can buy this cheaper down the road.”
While it may be true that they can buy it cheaper down the road, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve lost the sale. For most businesses, it would be good to know this information.
You could say things like “Oh, really? We weren’t aware of that” or “Thanks for letting us know, that’s actually very helpful as we’re always wanting to give you the best deal we can.”
Then follow it up with something you can offer them to give them a reason to stay with you. You could offer a price match (or better their price, even if only by a little.) You could also maybe throw in a free bottle of lube or sign them up for a loyalty card (or similar if you have one).
Of course, it’s always worth checking out prices before you price match, so visit the other company’s website to make sure the customer is telling the truth and not trying to pull the wool over your eyes!
And please, do not tell your customer lies to get a sale out of them — the chances of a competitor selling broken toys, poor quality brands or fake products is pretty slim. Give the customer a reason to buy from you rather than a reason to avoid another business. Customers can sometimes lose respect for businesses that talk down about competitors, especially if they shop at both.
Customer: “I want a refund because I didn’t like it.”
Depending on which country you are in, consumer law allows for a refund in most cases of products that aren’t wanted (as long as it’s within a set period of time). However, for adult products, this is not necessarily the case.
Sex toys and other insertables fall under hygiene rules and therefore returns of these unwanted items do not always have to be given. You can decide to honor the return if your wish, although it is down to you to decide. Weigh it out and work out whether it would be a good marketing strategy in the long run or whether it could potentially be unfeasible. It’s definitely worth thinking about.
If you don’t offer returns for unwanted intimate products and you are thrown into that exact situation, you can apologize to your customer for hearing that their experience wasn’t what they expected, but then explain to them that you can’t accept returns of unwanted toys due to hygiene reasons. If they insist, you could ask them if they would be comfortable buying a sex toy that had been returned. This would generally help them to see the situation more clearly and they will probably accept the situation in a more understanding way.
Remember though, you should still accept toys that are faulty, providing they fall into the warranty period. Manufacturers and brands usually have their own guarantees, so if you can point the customer to the guarantee on the packaging or their website, they can often handle the return directly with the brand without having to involve you as the retailer.
Some brands offer guarantees for as long as two, five or even 15 years! It’s always worth drawing the customer’s attention to this when they make a purchase and let them know they can follow the guarantee information if they have any issues. This should reduce the number of faulty returns you receive, and should keep your customers happy and confident in their purchase.
Customer: “I can buy this on Amazon.”
OK, this is one of my current pet peeves. I’ve seen a number of retailers claiming that Amazon sells returned sex toys. I don’t know about Amazon in the U.S., but in the U.K., Amazon simply doesn’t do this. I’m yet to hear of a single case of a customer receiving a sex toy that has been used by someone else, and if they did, I would imagine there would be uproar over this. My guess is that, as with most returned products that are designed to be intimate, they are destroyed. Until I actually see proof of used sex toys being sold on by Amazon, I’m pretty skeptical.
Anyway, yes. You probably can buy it on Amazon. But many products have long delivery times on Amazon, whereas your customer can have it right here and right now. Remind them that you are experts in these types of products and you can offer them help and support with their purchase. And your after-sales support can also help them if they run into any issues with products, whereas Amazon doesn’t want to hear it. You could also remind your customer that you are a local business and by shopping on Amazon, this doesn’t help these businesses in any way. It all comes down to how they want to shop and their own moral values.
You also have the advantage of the human touch. Make them feel special and spoiled, and if you can, try to entice them further with offers, deals or freebies (or maybe even price matches if possible) to make them feel valued as a customer in your store. Can Amazon do that?
Customers can make or break a business and every retail store will run into issues like those above. Just try to keep calm, take a deep breath, handle the situation in the best way you can, and remember, the customer is king (whether you like it or not).
How to Answer Shoppers’ Hard-Hitting Questions by Daniel Miller originally appeared in XBIZ