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Things I’d Like to See Go Away – The “We Don’t Trust You” Customer Return Approach

by Hank Barnes  |  May 8, 2018  |  1 Comment

Another in my ongoing list of things I’d like to see go away.  This one is not about marketing or sales, it’s about customer service and customer experience.

Let me start with a personal story.   I’ve started drinking tea instead of soda.  It’s time to do a little more to get healthy and behave like an adult.    For this, I bought this really nice tea kettle, with an infuser.  It was a complete system with a heating element and everything.  All was working great.

Then I took it with me on a short (driving) trip.  I’m not sure what happened but the kettle “broke.”  Not the glass, but the button to pop the lid open stopped working.   I had to pull it open.  After a few days, the lid wouldn’t close.   I could hear things rattling in the lid mechanism.

I contacted the manufacturer, providing them with pictures and my Amazon order information.   They immediately let me know that I was covered by a warranty and they would replace the kettle.  But they don’t have replacement kettles; they have to replace the whole unit (kettle and base).  And here is where it broke down a little.

I was instructed that the only way for them to approve a replacement was for me to cut the electric cord and show them a picture.  I had to prove that I would not continue to use the broken unit.   Basically, they said, even though I had proven it was broken, that they did not trust me.


That is but one example of old school processes that basically tell customers we don’t trust you and we won’t provide service until you return the item that is going to be replaced (even when they are just going to discard the broken item).  The approach means the customer goes several days with nothing.  Several days to think about going with a different company the next time something is needed.

In a world of where customer experience counts, this is another thing that needs to go away.   If you don’t trust your customers, even when they have done what it takes to earn some trust, you are in a very risky position.

Take a look at your return processes.  Are you implying to your customers that you don’t trust them?  Do you have any good reasons for this?  I suspect the costs to your business of this lack of trust are much greater than the benefits.  Think about them again and fix them.

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Category: go-to-market  

Tags: customer-experience  customer-service  customer-support  returns  trust  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Things I’d Like to See Go Away – The “We Don’t Trust You” Customer Return Approach

  1. Ken R says:

    As if a cut cord could not be re-attached. They are on to you Hank, selling teapots out of the back gate of your station wagon 🙂

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