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Turn Returns into Sales


Once we sell a product or service to a customer, the last thing a retailer wants is to get that item back. However, our job is to satisfy our customers and returns and refunds are a reality of retailing. Here’s how to turn those inconvenient returns into exchanges and avoid refunds by implementing these simple customer service skills.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 5 Minutes

Here's How:

  1. Listen and Learn: Start the return transaction by genuinely listening to the customer. This allows the customer to be heard and it’s your chance to understand the shopper’s needs. Once the customer is finished speaking, begin asking any unanswered questions to establish the reason for the return. Why is the item being returned? What is wrong with the item? What end result is the customer seeking? Once the reason for the return is known, we can offer solutions to the problem.

  2. Offer Suggestions: Now that we understand why an item is being returned, we can suggest alternative products or solutions. Would the shopper like a different style, color or size? Could a similar item serve the customer’s needs? Do we offer a better product than the one being returned? If so, make those suggestions. Be sure to mention the benefits to the customer. This isn’t just a return; it’s another opportunity to sell.

  3. Cross-Sell and Up-Sell: If no substitution will satisfy the customer, all is not lost. Depending on the store’s return policy, it may be possible to offer in-store credit or gift cards instead of a cash refund. If you must provide a cash refund or credit card chargeback, consider offering accessories or related items to the customer. Without being pushy, mention current specials, best sellers or other products the customer may need. Is there an additional item he/she could use?

  4. Satisfy the Customer: Not all returns can be exchanges. Many customers will only want their money back. That’s okay. After you’ve exhausted the above selling opportunities and you’ve satisfied the customer, chances are good that he or she will return to shop with you another day.


  1. An exchange is better than no sale, but a satisfied customer is more important than a return policy.

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