It seems like a simple question, right? But giving refunds in your business is one of those controversial topics that gets everyone up in arms.
Some business owners flat out say no refunds given, and other will give you a satisfaction guarantee with a full refund, no questions asked.
A little while ago, I started looking for a piece of slideshow software for my business. I wanted something simple to use, with a clean interface, that kept my slides in order, I could add audio files to and export as a video.
Not too much to ask for right?
I tested out the trial software and it was ok. It did the job it needed to, but the interface wasn’t great. There were huge limits to the free version (as is often the case), so to ensure I could complete my project I was happy to upgrade to the full paid software.
I'm ok to put up with an interface that isn’t fantastic, so long as the software does what it should do!
After hours of creating my slides in another piece of software, recording my audio files (the slideshow software didn’t have that option, which was fine). I was ready to import everything!
Excitedly, I dropped all the files in to my brand spanking new software, ready to hit a couple of buttons for it to do it’s job – combine them and export my video!
I quickly realised that the automatic ‘re-ordering’ of the slides didn’t work. I had 100 slides to order, and didn’t want to have to that manually. Besides, the software was supposed to do that for me, right?!
I closed it down and renamed all my files another way to see if that would work.
Frustrated, I searched on their help section and found nothing. Nada. Zilch. I spoke to a customer service agent within their chat system. He was no help and couldn’t offer me any advice.
Still irritated, I tried yet another way of renaming all my 100 files & imported them again to the software.
Fingers crossed, I waited for them to load…
Only to find that it made absolutely no difference. They STILL weren’t in the correct order, and their ‘sort files’ button, did nothing. Again.
So I sat there - and one by one dragged and dropped 100 individual files into the correct order.
‘Now we can get this thing finished!’ I thought.
I added my audio files and quickly learnt that I would have to manually connect each audio file (there were 10) with the relevant slides.
Ok.. so that’s a pain, but I get it.
And then another issue came up that was never mentioned before I bought the product.
Each slide could only play for a maximum of 20 seconds.
I sat there and went through the audio files, matching them up to the slides at 20 second intervals. This took time – a LOT of time.
The worst part? If I had to adjust the order of the audio files at all (which were in the tiniest space on the dashboard possible!), the software crashed and I had to start all over again. Uploading...manually re-ordering the slides...and adjusting the timings.
Finally, I finished. And it crashed. AGAIN.
Frustrated, fed up, tired, with sore eyes and 2 hours late for a meeting with friends (it was now 9pm) I gave up.
A few days later, I emailed the company asking for a refund for my payment, briefly explaining the situation.
Their response was to ask me to elaborate on each of my points.
No apology for the problems or inconvenience caused.
A bit taken aback, I replied detailing my experience and the problems I faced.
The next day, I received another reply, asking me to elaborate on my points again – for some strange reason my email had sent, but everything under the ‘Hello’ was gone. I resent my previous email.
I received another reply with bullet points. My first reaction was one of annoyance – are they actually arguing with me here??!!
This is the stage we are at as I write to you today...
What does this have to do about giving refunds in business?
So why am I telling you this story?
This experience made me think about the customers point of view as well as the business owners.
As a customer who has paid for a product, you expect the product to do what it promises, and do it well.
As a business owner you should listen, acknowledge and understand your customers issues.
Is the customer ALWAYS right? Maybe not, but they are paying you money and should therefore always be made to feel important, heard, understood and respected.
I very much doubt I will receive a refund for this software. The company in question also has other products, some of which I use and some of which I would have purchased.
I won't be purchasing them now.
Because my trust in the company has gone.
I didn’t feel like I mattered to them, I didn’t feel listened to, I didn’t feel like they understood my issues, the time & money wasted, the frustration in their product and I certainly didn’t feel respected. A simple apology would have accomplished the last part.
So ask yourself - the next time a customer or client comes to you with a problem, a question or is asking for a refund, how will you respond?
- What is your policy on giving refunds in your business? Do you have a flat out rule? Is it on a case-by-case basis?
- Do you truly listen to your customers queries and issues?
- Do you make your customer feel important, respected and understood?
- Does it matter to you what they think of you and your business?
- Is refunding £10, £100, or £1000 worth losing that customer for? Remember that a happy customer will tell 1 person about their experience, an unhappy one will tell 10.
- Write your policy for giving refunds in business. If you choose not to give refunds at all, explain why.
- If you do give refunds, list out your process for dealing with customer enquiries and refunds. Do you have a 1/2/3 step process? Do you give refunds up to 14 days, 30 days or longer? How will the refund be given? How long until the customer will receive it? Do you ‘sugar the pill’ and give them something extra as an apology?
- Write a template email with questions that make the customer feel important, heard, understood and respected.
- Ensure your refund policy is clearly stated on your website.