Returns: Turn customers into champions

Why treating customers like royalty works!
Seth Kniep
October 18, 2017
Grow your Amazon store
When you make a customer’s experience absolutely phenomenal, they will not only want to give you a good product review, but also positive seller feedback. When you take care of your customers, they take care of you.

The number one most important opinion in your life, when it comes to Amazon passive income, is not your spouse's, or your kids', or your suppliers': it’s the customer’s opinion.

At the end of the day, why do people buy? Because you, the seller, like the product? Because you have a cool plan?

No.

Customers buy because they like the product or service. That’s when they’ll give strong feedback. 

It’s really important to know how to treat your customer correctly. There are times where customers will complaining about their product and request a return, but their complaint is not legitimate at all. You’ll look at it and go, “What in the world is going on? How do I respond?”

It’s hard to not take it personally. But as soon as you do, you’re going down the wrong path. You’re turning it into a war between you and one person, instead of remembering what your goal is in the first place. 

Let's go through some common issues sellers have to deal with—some that even feel very unfair—and teach you how to navigate them in a way that will help you succeed in the end.

What do I do when a customer requests a return?

There are two kinds of return requests. One is merchant and one is through FBA. Merchant sales mean that you’re shipping the item yourself to your customer. If a customer requests a return on a merchant-fulfilled order, you need to respond to that request within 24 hours. It will show up as a notification in your messages. You can either authorize or decline the request. If you don’t respond within 24 hours, your account health will drop on Amazon.

99% of the time, I authorize all return requests. If I decline it, or do something the customer doesn’t like, they can get vengeance by leaving me really bad feedback or a negative product review. I don’t want that. So unless there's a really good reason to not authorize the return, I’m going to authorize it.

This is difficult to do. It means you lost the sale. You also lose time, and even money if you pay for the return shipping. But it's worth it in the end, because otherwise, the health of your account will suffer. And if your account’s health is bad, you will lose the buy box, and your sales will drop.

You need a healthy account, so make sure to authorize all your return requests, even if you know it’s for a very stupid reason.

Some people out there will take advantage of this. They know the seller is at their mercy, because they can get back at them with a negative review or feedback. They’ll take advantage of that and try to get as many freebies and discounts as they can. You have to deal with that. Only about 2% of my buyers that are like that.

Authorizing a return is very simple. When you’re in Amazon Seller Central, you’ll receive a message notifying you about the return. Click “Authorize return request.” It’ll lead you to a page of settings that allow you to choose whether you pay for the return shipping or the customer does.

This option is completely up to you. I advise using wisdom. If you sense they are just trying to get a good deal, it might be worth you paying for the return shipping so you don’t end up with negative feedback later. I know it goes against our ego, but it’s better to lose the battle and win the war. Don’t win a small battle for the sake of your ego and suffer long-term for it on Amazon. Being in this for the long haul requires a little loss here, a little loss there, but a big win as a result, and people will love you for it.

If you choose to pay for the return shipping, it’s a little complicated. Amazon does not provide a simple way for you to do that. The way I do this is by going to usps.com and creating a shipping label where the “Ship from” address is the customer’s address from their order and the “Ship to” is my address. Make sure that the weight is correct of the item they are returning. Then you pay for the label, download it, and attach it to the page on Amazon where you approve the return request.

It’s time intensive, but in reality, I only get these returns maybe twice a month. Now, if you decide the customer should pay for the return shipping, you click the “Customer pays for return cost” button. I would only do this if you can tell the customer is genuine and there wasn’t a problem with the item. If the item broke, or was defective, I’d pay for it, since that was my responsibility as a seller. But if they are just wanting to return it, or they found a better priced item, I usually let the customer pay for it.

When you click that button, Amazon sends them a label that they pay for, print off, stick it on their box, and ship back to you. It’s very easy.

Then, when you receive an item that was returned in the mail, and double check it to make sure it was sent how you sent it to them, you go to “Returns” in Seller Central and find their return and refund their order. That’s what I recommend doing if you get a merchant sale return.

What about FBA returns?

Here’s the beauty of FBA: Amazon takes care of it for you. They take care of the whole return: giving the customer a label, taking back the product, and refunding the customer. If the customer goes to Amazon and says they want a return, Amazon takes care of the whole process. You don’t have to do anything. Amazon sends out auto-messages to confirm that everything was completed as well.

There is, however, a trick to this method that I want to show you. If the customer says the reason for returning the item is because the item is damaged, the customer does not have to pay for return shipping. Some customers are smart and know this. They will say that the item is damaged, even when it isn’t, so they don’t have to pay for return shipping. When that happens, and Amazon receives the product back, they are assuming it is damaged, so they can’t just put it back on the shelf. They’re going to put it aside, in a different category, and label it “unfulfillable.”

I’ve learned by experience that 90% of those returned products marked as unfulfillable as perfectly fine. They’ll be sitting in perfect condition in Amazon’s warehouse, but unable to sell. So I’m going to show how you can get those back to your warehouse or your home so that you can check over the products, double-check to make sure they are not damaged, and then ship them back to FBA.

In Seller Central, click on “Manage FBA Inventory”.

You’ll notice that one of the columns is labeled “Unfulfillable”. Click on it to sort by what items have unfulfillable inventory.

You’re going to click on the little red number and select “All Unfulfillable Inventory” under “Create a removal order for” on the popup box that comes up.

Once you hit submit, it’ll take you to a page that will let you enter your address that you want them shipped back to. After you hit continue again, it’ll tell you how much the charges are, which are pretty minimal, not a big deal. It’ll take 10-14 days to ship to your address, and it’ll charge you within 45 days. Then after you place that removal order, they will ship it out to you. You can check it over and send it right back to FBA by adding inventory. This helps you not lose perfectly fine inventory or pay extra charges for FBA storing unfulfillable inventory.

 

Tip #3: Focus on what the supplier values

Rule #1 in all negotiation is to focus on what is valuable to the other party first. Then it's much easier to get what you want as well. The final deal needs to make sense to both sides.
Chinese suppliers value two things above anything else: friendship and long term business. Friendship often results in long term business. Chinese suppliers value friendship because a strong friendships between vendor and customer is a healthy business practice in Chinese culture. They will often address you as "friend."

They value long term business relationship because the cost of acquiring and learning the needs of a new customer is much more time consuming than working with the same customer for years. Business with an old customer is much less risky than business with a new customer. New customers are unpredictable and often flighty, resulting in wasted time for the Chinese supplier, going back and forth in a conversation with a customer who ends up not buying.
So how do you do this? In your communication with the supplier, mention "friendship" and "long term business relationship." Weave it in naturally and let them know that you value both of these highly.
Look again at my example message to a Chinese supplier:

Hello Cynthia! I own a US company that sells aromatic oils and accessories. 
I am looking for a manufacturer who can create an aromatic oil holder.
I am looking for a manufacture to build a strong friendship with for long term business relationship.
I would love to see if you can create the model I need. 
Please, see the specs in the image I attached to this email. 
I would appreciate your prompt response. 

We are looking for a good business relationship with a manufacturer! 

Sincerely, 
Lucy

Notice that I focused on what they value. I stated two qualities they value highly: 1) long term business relationship and 2) friendship. These two qualities go a long way in Chinese business culture, so leverage them!

Don't be surprised if you get responses referring to you as "dear" or "friend," while these names of endearment might seem strange and awkward to us in the west, but to the Chinese, they are standard. The reality is, if you are willing to do business with them in a long term relationship, then you are, by extension, their friend. Concepts like friendship, loyalty, long term, integrity, it all mixes in their culture of business. 

Photo by Joey Huang

Couldn't we stand to learn a thing or two from that style of doing business? How many of us here in the west have worked with corporate entities that we would categorize as soulless? The best business relationships form like friendships. They are people you want to stick with you. That's why I encourage you to be cautious about who you allow to do business with you. Finding the right supplier is a critical part of this process, and our members have access to all the tools and strategies for finding good people to do business with. Please consider journeying with us on this path of relationship and margin building. Don't let communication be a barrier to your passive income freedom. 

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Seth Kniep

Married a pearl. Fathered 4 miracles. Fired his boss. Turned a single dime into $104,857. Today, a self-made millionaire, Seth and his team of 8 badass coaches teach entrepreneurs how to build passive income on Amazon.

Dead serious about building income on Amazon with eight successful coaches in a community of badass Amazon sellers? Join the Amazon FBA Mastery membership.

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