I had a Small Business Saturdays episode about Transactional Emails and their importance in your overall marketing scheme. After all, these are the most opened emails of any that a business sends! So why not get some marketing juice out of them and serve the purpose of delivering the order receipt, communicating tracking details, or working with a customer on art and proofs. What is your call to action, and what is the image and brand you portray to your customers? Also, what are you doing to say thank you to your customers for their business? Check out the video replay at:
Within that discussion, we also talked about framing the communication so that it was customer-centric, not company-centric, even when you are communicating your companies policies. Let's face it, most policies that a company sets up are a direct result of a time the company felt taken advantage of or had a bad experience during a job. So when these policies are being created, it is to protect ourselves from the big bad customer. In reality, the issue was a lack of understanding and expectations not being met on one or both sides of the transaction because assumptions were made. The problem with these policies, especially those created in the heat of the issue, is that they never get reviewed in a time of happiness and calm. They also don't take into consideration the customer's perspective. Or worse yet, your potential customer's perspective. The goal of any good company policy is to create a general understanding between customer and company and best protect the customer from having a bad best experience. Policies are just to set expectations clearly so everyone is happy with the final product. I recommend that you regularly review your company policies and have an outside perspective give you honest feedback on how those read from the outside looking in. I am happy to be that outside perspective; click here. Because of the law of attraction, only a few days after the above video was done, I got an autoresponder email from a decorator. I want to share it with you as a cautionary tale and give my recommended edits to this autoresponder. This was an autoresponder that is being sent to anyone and everyone who emails their general email box. As you read it, put yourself in the shoes of a new potential customer.
NO RETURNS, CANCELLATIONS, OR EXCHANGES ON RUSH ORDERS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. MINIMUM PRODUCTION TIME IS 14 BUSINESS DAYS.
KEEP IN MIND THAT (NAME WITHHELD) HAS THE RIGHT TO MAKE ANY MODIFICATIONS ON RUSH ORDERS TO ACCOMMODATE COMPLETION TIME.
Return Policy: No return on any printed items. NO REFUND ON DESIGN FEES. A DESIGN FEE WILL BE APPLIED ON CANCELED ORDERS. A RESTOCKING FEE WILL BE APPLIED ON CANCELED ORDERS.
All orders are on a estimates 14 business days production
Here is my suggested update to the above email:
Thank you for reaching out to us. We appreciate your interest in working with us. In an effort to get you details as quickly as possible while we work with other customers, we wanted to provide you with some general frequently asked questions.
Rush Orders – We love working with customers who need their items quickly as we have the ability to make that happen. Because of the shorter timeline, we do need some help from our customers to ensure a great experience. Our current standard production time is 14 business days. Once a rush order is placed and is an official order in our system we can not accept any returns, cancellations, or exchanges. Also, due to the shorter turn time, we will do our best to make sure we get all of the details upfront, but at times we will need to make modifications to the order to complete it on time. We will reach out to you but if we are not able to reach you right away we are committed to completing the job on time so we will have to make the modification to reach that goal.
Return Policy: Because each item we design and create for you is a custom product we can not accept any returns on printed items. We also take a great deal of pride in the design work we are willing to do for you. Our customers see great value in that. Because of the time and effort, the design process takes, we do charge a design fee on all orders even if you must cancel for whatever reason.
(Note: I would leave the restock fee out and not have this as a policy. If the item cannot be resold, then don't change a restock fee. If the customer requires a refund and you have certain fees with credit cards or otherwise, then you can certainly offer store credit or credit card fees on returned orders, but in 2019 restock fees are a bad idea.)
So let's be honest with ourselves on this one. Clearly, there was a time when the front end of the order-taking process had some issues as this company was hurt by someone who decided to cancel or complain after some work and potential products had been wasted. It probably had a negative financial impact on the company, and to protect themselves, they drew up these policies in anger (as can be seen by the ALL CAPS). But I would argue that they are doing more financial harm to themselves by running away a new potential customer and fearful good customers with this autoresponder. Let's review your policies together and see how we can improve them.