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Chapter 3 of 4

Customer service and customer rights


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Retail guides > Retailer's guide to managing time and people > Customer service and customer rights

Customer service and customer rights

Retail is a people business. To win repeat customers, it helps to do more than provide a good product. Most businesses aim to impress during the sale, but it’s also increasingly common to connect with customers online.

How to make customers feel valued in store

Valued customers become repeat customers. And repeat customers become loyal, often bringing others with them. In the shop, strive to:

  • make them feel welcome and valued

  • give them the information they need to make good choices

  • provide a clean space

  • make it easy to get served (avoid long waits)

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Maintaining the relationship online

Consider how you can cement the relationship with customers outside of the confines of the shop. To do that, you'll need to craft personalised communications.

The point-of-sale experts at Vend suggest asking for your customers' name, email address, and phone number when you make a sale. Gradually add more to their profile, such as their purchase history and other interactions with your shop. This will allow you to create messages or alerts about things that would interest them – such as sales or new releases.

If you know their birthday, send a greeting on the day and include a gift offer. Just don’t get creepy about it, and don’t spam them. Make the interactions valuable for everyone.

How to handle complaints and refunds

Returns and refunds are never fun, but they come with the territory of running a retail business. Be clear what your customers’ rights are (more below) and decide if you want to offer them anything more. You can’t do any less.

  • Will you allow returns or refunds when customers change their mind?

  • What is your cut-off period for returns?

  • How will refunds be given?

  • What does the customer need to provide when returning or exchanging an item? Most retailers require the customer to provide the original receipt.

Make sure everyone knows your policy

Whether you have your own policy or use the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA), you should communicate it to customers and employees. Make it part of staff training and consider posting the policy on or near the checkout. Some businesses also print it on the back of customer receipts.

Ensure you unwind transactions properly

Reversing a transaction generally has a few steps:

  1. Give back the money.

  2. Add the item back to your inventory.

  3. Remove the income from your business accounts.

  4. Make sure the cash withdrawal from your bank is linked to the refund.

  5. Remove the GST that you had charged from your tax liability.

What are the customer’s rights?

Your customers have rights under the Fair Trading Act (FTA) and Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). You are required by law to provide these protections.

Fair Trading Act (FTA)

You can’t make untrue claims about your products or business. 

You must be upfront about prices, fees, and GST. 

You must highlight cancellation periods for warranties. 

Include country-of-origin labelling on clothing or footwear, efficiency rating labels on appliances.

Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA)

Your goods must be of acceptable quality and price, and fit for purpose.

They must match any descriptions you’ve provided.

If ordered, they must arrive in reasonable time.

If you fail on any of these fronts, customers can ask for a refund, repair, or replacement. These are the minimum standards. You can offer more guarantees, but not fewer.

Other consumer protections

Check MBIE’s consumer protection pages for more.

Chapter 4: Time-saving retail apps

When it comes to saving time, technology is one of the great enablers. There are five types of app that can transform a retailer’s day, and productivity.

Read chapter 4

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