Setting customer expectations in business is essential to gain the trust of customers, avoid conflicts, and maintain a high degree of customer satisfaction. This is especially important in the age of online reviews a social media. What previously would have reached only several to a dozen people now can be shared with thousands or millions with a couple clicks.
One way to set customer expectations is to clearly state policies that are customer-facing. Many of these are accounting policies that we can help with. The following policies are ones that we commonly see and recommend every business should clearly publish.
When customers purchase products or service and don’t get what they expect, what is their recourse? A refund policy should clearly state which products and services are refundable. Do customers need to physically return the product in-store or via shipping? What if it’s a service? Are they refunded in cash, credit card or store credit? Is there a deadline for refunds?
All of these questions should clearly be outlined in a refund policy. The company website is a great place for these to be published.
If a customer has a complaint, how should they submit it? Is there a hotline to call, a suggestion box, or a form to fill out? If the business and employees are licensed, is there a government agency to write? A notice should be posted on the company website and in any physical location describing where to submit complaints.
Proper training for employees who handle complaints is key. This is the one chance we have to redeem ourselves in the customer’s eye so it’s important that their situation be resovled quickly and, when possible, in favor of the customer. Zappos entire culture revolves around this; there are tons of articles about their legendary customer service. In the age of the Internet and mobile devices, a poorly handled complaint becomes a negative review on several websites hurting the company’s brand and reputation.
Not all businesses need a shipping policy, but it is necessary if the company ships goods to customers. What is the cost of shipping? What is the expected delivery time? A shipping policy explains this as well as what can go wrong: If the item was never received, what should one do? Must they sign for a shipment? If they return a shipment, who pays the shipping? If an item is received damaged, how do they file a claim?
While not a policy this customer communication needs to be clearly posted. What forms of payment will are accepted? If the company accepts checks, what ID does the customer need to show? What about some of the newer forms of payment such as Apple Pay or cryptocurrencies? How do gift cards work?
If a customer doesn’t pay their bills on time, they should know what to expect. Will interest be charged? Will the account be sent for collections? Will future purchases be cancelled or require a C.O.D. (cash on delivery) payment?
It might not be intuitive at first, but getting the accounting team involved with policy writing can help avoid mistakes of omission, and bring to light aspects many business leaders either forget or didn’t realize in the first place. This list is helpful but certainly not exhaustive. Feel free to reach out to your Lucrum representative to make sure all appropriate bases are covered.