Television viewers the world over are almost united in wanting a single product returned, sent back to the manufacturers, never to be used again. It is, of course, the Vuvuzela, which is responsible for the constant droning racket at every World Cup match. Indeed, even the BBC is debating how it might be filtered out from broadcasts, without much luck it seems. And the French players have complained the din these trumpets create is partly responsible for the team’s poor performance in their opening match. It would be fantastic for the players and fans worldwide if these instruments (of torture?) could be sent back.
But they can’t. FIFA has ruled that they are part of the the culture of South African football and so they are here to stay. That’s in spite of ear-plugs selling out and the fact that the South African Medical Journal has carried a research paper showing that the noise level of the Vuvuzela is higher than the nation’s permitted occupational sound exposure. Indeed, the researchers say that anyone within 2m of a Vuvuzela risks permanent hearing damage.
The trouble is, sending them back. After all, they are sold by vendors around the stadium – so even if you decide to protect your ears and take it back to the shop, where is the shop…? Even if after buying one of these items you wanted to take it back you would have real difficulty in doing so.
And according to research published today, that could be almost as annoying as the darn sound itself. It seems that when we want to return something we have bought, we expect to be able to do so easily, quickly and without any real trouble at all. And therein lies a problem for anyone selling items online. If your returns system has any weaknesses, or puts your customers to any trouble, there is a real risk they will avoid using you again in the future.
Indeed, the study found that almost six out of every ten people would avoid an online company if their returns system was weak. And one of those weaknesses is charging for returns while another is making people take stuff back to specific return centres. What people want is a local and free returns systems – or for your company to arrange to collect the unwanted items. Making it difficult for people to return items to you makes them think negatively about you.
Like it or not, the easier you make it for people to return what you sell, the better your company will do in the “word of mouth” stakes. Your business success could depend on making it clear to your customers that you are happy for them to send items they have bought back to you, without them having to spend any money doing it.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+