Many Happy Returns (?) of the Season

‘Tis the season to shake off your post-Holiday lethargy, gather up your gift receipts, and head to the big-box stores and the malls to get what you should’ve got for Christmas, had your friends and relatives been listening to the hints you’d been dropping since the day after last Christmas.

Between friends and relatives, I find relatives are worse when it comes to getting you what you desire. How far off target they are depends on factors like:

  1. The degree of physical separation between you;
  2. How far removed you are on the family tree;
  3. Whether you communicate with one another; and
  4. How much they’re willing to spend.

You have to work at keeping friends but relatives are relatives, no matter what – unless they’re richer than god. (If I had any of those in my family, they wouldn’t be returning anything of mine.)

My wife manages to keep gift returns to a minimum; in fact, it’s been years since I’ve returned any of her gifts. It’s not so much that we know each other better as it is that she insists on giving – and getting – a Christmas Wish List. While the List sucks all the excitement and anticipation out of gift giving, I suppose it is less time consuming and more likely to ensure satisfaction on the receiving end.

But enough about my family. How satisfied are you with the gift return process? Well, according to one market research firm (MarketTools), here’s the sort of Christmas, Hanukkah, etc., gifts we stood in line at the store to give back:

  • A whopping 62% of respondents returned shoes and clothing;
  • 16% brought back toys, games, and hobby items;
  • 14% returned consumer electronics;
  • 13%, kitchen and bath items;
  • 10%, beauty and cosmetics; and
  • 10% returned jewelry, watches, and the like.

In the same study, more than 1/3 of respondents were dissatisfied with the gift return experience. Of those:

  • 32% said the store’s return policy was the primary source of their dissatisfaction;
  • 23% weren’t satisfied with the type of “refund” the store provided; and
  • 22% were unhappy with long return lines (or wait time).

The MarketTools study recommended that retailers look at gift returns as an opportunity for improvement. Make the gift return process faster, easier, and with fewer conditions attached and watch how fast your company benefits, too. You’d think that’d be obvious but, then, you’d be surprised at how many companies still don’t get it. I hope you don’t have to go to one of those to return something but if you do, best of luck (and take lots of provisions).

Who of you has returned or will be returning a Holiday gift? What kind of gift is it? What would you rather have received? What’s your worst gift return experience of all time?



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Posted in Customer experience

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