I believe in ‘what goes around, comes around’ and so Hide A Heart policies are based on that philosophy. Hide a Heart has been in business for two years and still considered a ‘newbie’ if one were to compare Hide A Heart to, let’s say Hallmark! Hide A Heart has ridden a ‘lucky streak’ as a newbie having been the beneficiary of some terrific opportunities. So you will perhaps NOT be particularly empathetic when I say Hide A Heart has never had a retail or wholesale customer return product….that is, until now!
Because we are a ‘mini-micro’ business, we carry out very ‘customer-friendly and responsive’ practices to develop customer confidence. To that end, most online retail Hide A Heart orders ship on the day or within a day of ordering. Wholesale orders may take up to four days to get out the door, especially when ordered in a larger quantity than five units.
You know as well as I, it is the ‘difficult’ lessons that teach us the most.
Lesson 18: Design a return/restock policy
Here’s the story: A brand new customer calls very excited about ‘discovering’ Hide A Heart and places an order for 40 units of a variety of hearts. I was thrilled but I am scheduled to leave town in two days for two weeks and worked like a woman with hair on fire getting the order put together!
I confess, it was once again ‘rhino’ enthusiasm that put me in a pickle!
I had two thoughts:
- Strike while the iron is hot
- Ship the order ASAP to show good customer service
Both sensible thoughts from my perspective, but can you see the enormous size hole in the process? New customer; 40 units; net-30 payment; NO deposit! The customer even mentioned it but ever the ‘confident in my product’ thinker , I waved it off believing the customer would be satisfied.
Upon returning from the two-week holiday, the customer contacted me for some display ideas and I was happy to make suggestions. I also sent some ‘point of sale’ cards. If a payment is not received in 30-days, it is Hide A Heart policy to contact a customer approximately 1 week past when payment is expected, just to ‘touch base’ in a friendly way. In the past this practice has always worked well.
However, this time the customer wrote that only one heart had sold since receiving the order and she wanted to know if she could ‘return’ the remaining hearts for a ‘small restocking’ fee. That’s the sticking point that members of the Six-Thinking Hat’s committee pointed out rather strongly, “Get rid of 30-Net!”
Both the customer and I were disappointed in this outcome. I responded that I was ‘sure we could work out a mutual agreement.’ The next day I spent some time Googling ‘restocking policies’ then worked to create a mutual and fair agreement for the customer and Hide A Heart.
In the future I think a better approach when developing a relationship with a new customer who expresses an interest in placing a large order is to set up a wholesale purchase with:
- 10 units of product
- Discuss which hearts best fit the customer’s shop
- Collect at time of order