One of the most commonly debatable subjects in my workshops is the role of a guarantee. There are those that think they are essential and those that believe they are the curse of retailing and that the consumer always abuses them. In my view a guarantee is part of the marketing budget and should be looked on as a marketing exercise. It should be a reassurance strategy in the consumers mind, they should feel confident in contacting you if they perceive they have a problem. It is better they come back to you than your competitor. I recently had a situation where I had to question a company guarantee policy. Three months ago we purchased some blinds for our hallway. When we purchased them the company installed them and told us they were fully guaranteed for twelve months. Not long after the purchase we noticed that the wood on the blinds was starting to split and contacted the company. The representative assured us that they were fully under cover and there would be a $60 call out fee to repair them. When we informed her that we were under the impression the guarantee was to cover all costs, we were informed that it was company policy to cover the costs of the repairs, but the client should cover the cost of the repairer coming out to our premises. fiI donï¿½t know about you, but a sure way to upset a customer is to tell them it is company policy. She continued to inform us it was only $60 and the rest would be covered under the guarantee. We stressed that the money was not the issue, but the principle was the issue, we had been misguided in the first instance. At the start of the phone conversation we were genuine loyal customers and by the end of the phone call we had become a disgruntled customer, who could have been a lifetime customer, but whish had now become a one time customer due to a guarantee that we perceived as badly communicated. The Guarantee Should Make a Difference All retail businesses should train the team in the value of the guarantee, that it is a marketing tool that should provide the customer with reassurance. If there are any costs involved when a customer contacts them over the guarantee it should be mentioned to the client at the start of the transaction. My view is that, for many products, you should not put a time limit on the guarantee, but empower the team member to make a decision that is in the best interest of the business and the customer. Let me explain, it is not unusual for a company to state that it guarantees for twelve months, how does the customer feel if the product fails on the first day of the thirteenth month? A guarantee should be more flexible. If a customer is a regular client and advocate of your business and a genuine lifetime customer then I would treat them differently to a one time customer who you perceive has abused the guarantee. Each situation should be judged on its merit, not one law for all customers. Your team should be empowered to make a judgment and you should support them on that judgment, even if you would have tackled the situation in a different way. Most of us have been on both the retailerï¿½s side of the fence and the customerï¿½s side of the fence when it comes to guarantee stories, ask yourself what annoys you as a consumer and then look at your own policy Consider the following points I would argue that everyone of your team should be empowered to make a decision up to the value of the average sale per customer. Many customers get frustrated when the ï¿½bossï¿½ has to be called over for what should be a minor issue. The team member losses credibility in the eyes of the customer and the customer often does not complain due to the time it takes to get some action. You should have a policy, but do not use this as a tool against the customer. Train the team to be more diplomatic and to show some empathy to the customer. A comment like ï¿½I know how you feelï¿½ can defuse a situation very easily as long as it is said genuinely. Always support the team in front of the customer. I know of one business where the owner insists the team abide by the company policy, but if he is brought into the scenario with the customer, he always backs down and gives into the customer, to keep them happy. The result is the staff are left to look foolish in front of the customer, they loose respect for the owner and the turnover of staff is higher than the norm for this retail sector. If you are getting a lot of complaints or recalls than you must ask yourself are the sales people providing enough information at the start of the process. I am always coming across situations where it is rare sense to me, but I am told, by the salesperson, it is common sense and therefore they do not need to inform the customer of that detail. But, we have also seen customers do some crazy things because they have not had the same common sense. Common sense only becomes common once you have experienced a situation and grown comfortable and familiar with it. I work with many companies where they only promote the guarantee at the point of sale. I would be promoting the guarantee around the store. It should be appoint of difference over your competitor and something that should be promoted as a positive and that you are proud of the guarantee you are offering. If customers come back to complain, make sure your team look on this as a compliment and that the customer cares enough about your business to let you know. It is more common for people to not complain, they just do not come back to your business. Complaints are a gift to you and you should treat them accordingly. The important thing is you use them as lessons to improve your business. Look on the guarantee as a positive marketing tool for your business, but do make sure the team know how to handle customers when they respond to a guarantee query.