Can using a money back guarantee really help you make sales? Read on and I’ll explain how!
Too many people think that selling is about talking people into buying things, as if you can wear people down with an avalanche of words. You can’t.
You can write all the selling copy you want about how you’re the best, offer great quality, and deliver wonderful service. However, it’s all for nothing if your potential buyers have any doubts.
Doubt creates hesitation. Hesitation kills sales.
The answer? You have to reduce the perceived risk people feel so there is no hesitation to take you up on your offer. And that’s the key — risk reduction.
When you buy a car, a camera, or even a toaster, you receive a warranty – a guarantee that the product will work. How often do you receive a warranty for auto repair, wedding photography, or take out delivery? Virtually never. Yet it is here, in buying services, that the assurance of a guarantee would count most.
A guarantee helps you lower the feeling of risk by answering questions such as “Is it all you say it is? What if it isn’t? Can I return it if I want to? Is there a catch?”
With a guarantee, they feel confident that they won’t be stuck with their purchase. And the very act of offering a strong guarantee lets buyers know you really believe the product is worth its asking price. But there’s another reason to use a guarantee — ethics.
Most people think of customer loyalty as customers being loyal to a business. But how about a business being loyal to customers? This is a recipe for long-term success if I’ve ever seen one. And it all stems from their powerful guarantee.
How to write a risk-eliminating guarantee
A guarantee may be the most important copy you ever write, but it isn’t rocket science. Your guarantee should do four primary things:
1. Assure your customer that you believe in the quality of your product.
2. Spell out your terms and conditions clearly.
3. Specify a generous time period for evaluation.
4. State what you will do if the customer is dissatisfied.
What Is a Good Service Guarantee?
Would you be willing to offer a guarantee of 100% customer satisfaction—to pay your dissatisfied customer to use a competitor’s service, for example? Or do you believe that promising error-free service is a crazy idea?
Not only is it not crazy, but committing to error-free service can help force a company to provide it. Similarly, a strong service guarantee that puts the customer first doesn’t necessarily lead to chaos and failure. If designed and implemented properly, it enables you to get control over your organization—with clear goals and an information network that gives you the data you need to improve performance.
Most existing service guarantees don’t really do the job: they are limited in scope and difficult to use. A service guarantee loses power in direct proportion to the number of conditions it contains. How effective is a restaurant’s guarantee of prompt service except when it’s busy?
What is a good service guarantee? It is (1) unconditional, (2) easy to understand and communicate, (3) meaningful, (4) easy (and painless) to invoke, and (5) easy and quick to collect on.
The best service guarantee promises customer satisfaction unconditionally, without exceptions. Customers shouldn’t need a lawyer to explain the “ifs, ands, and buts” of a guarantee—because ideally there shouldn’t be any conditions; a customer is either satisfied or not.
Easy to Understand and Communicate
A guarantee should be written in simple, concise language that pinpoints the promise. Customers then know precisely what they can expect and employees know precisely what’s expected of them. “Five-minute” lunch service, rather than “prompt” service, creates clear expectations, as does “no pests,” rather than “pest control.”
A good service guarantee is meaningful in two respects. First, it guarantees those aspects of your service that are important to your customers. Second, a good guarantee is meaningful financially; it calls for a significant pay out when the promise is not kept. What should it be—a full refund? An offer of free service the next time? The answer depends on factors like the cost of the service, the seriousness of the failure, and customers’ perception of what’s fair. A money-back pay out should be large enough to give customers an incentive to invoke the guarantee if dissatisfied. The adage “Let the punishment fit the crime” is an appropriate guide.
Easy to Invoke
A customer who is already dissatisfied should not have to jump through hoops to invoke a guarantee; the dissatisfaction is only exacerbated when the customer has to talk to three different people, fill out five forms, go to a different location, make two telephone calls, send in written proof of purchase with a full description of the events, wait for a written reply, go somewhere else to see someone to verify all the preceding facts, and so on.
Similarly, customers should not be made to feel guilty about invoking the guarantee—no questioning, no raised eyebrows, or “Why me?” looks. A company should encourage unhappy customers to invoke its guarantee, not put up roadblocks to keep them from speaking up.
Easy to Collect
Customers shouldn’t have to work hard to collect a pay out, either. The procedure should be easy and, equally important, quick—on the spot, if possible. What you should not do in your guarantee: don’t promise something your customers already expect; don’t shroud a guarantee in so many conditions that it loses its point; and don’t offer a guarantee so mild that it is never invoked. A guarantee that is essentially risk free to the company will be of little or no value to your customers—and may be a joke to your employees.
Why a Service Guarantee Works
A guarantee is a powerful tool—both for marketing service quality and for achieving it—for five reasons.
First, it pushes the entire company to focus on customers’ definition of good service—not on executives’ assumptions. Second, it sets clear performance standards, which boost employee performance and morale. Third, it generates reliable data (through pay-outs) when performance is poor. Fourth, it forces an organization to examine its entire service-delivery system for possible failure points. Last, it builds customer loyalty, sales, and market share.
Organizations that figure out how to offer—and deliver—guaranteed, breakthrough service will have tapped into a powerful source of competitive advantage. Doing so is no mean feat, of course, which is precisely why the opportunity to build a competitive advantage exists. Though the task is difficult, it is clearly not impossible, and the service guarantee can play a major role in MAKING MORE SALES.
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