NAJ News

Managing Customer Expectations: An Introduction & Guide by Barry Sullivan

07 Aug 2019

We as a Company, regularly come across situations where the customer’s expectations haven’t been managed as well as they could have been. This often leads to customer complaints that usually end up with bad feelings on both sides and often the loss of a valued client or even entering into mediation or litigation.

Managing Customer expectations, this is the responsibility of the salesperson or company in retail sales or internet sales.  It is no longer acceptable to simply sell an article, without knowing the customers intended purpose of use. There is a duty of responsibility involved when professionals are concerned in matters when dealing with the public, the retailer is obliged to provide full disclosure about the article being purchased, including, any hazardous circumstances in design, manufacturing and durability; this responsibility extends to include full disclosure of gemstone treatments. Candour at all times is the best way. Members of the public are not expected to understand about jewellery, professional jewellers are expected to know about jewellery.

Right: Barry SullivanBarry Sullivan

Many purchases are carried out through internet sales; internet sales often offer little or no dialogue other than selling something that the customer has chosen, seen on-line. Whereas, a shop salesperson is able to convey the suitability of the item being sold, in both of these sale scenarios, knowing the customers intended purpose of use is crucial.

If a customer for example, wants to purchase a narrow platinum wedding band set with small diamonds, this is unlikely to survive daily wear over any extended period as traditionally a wedding band is worn daily for a lifetime. If diamonds are set, overhanging their settings, in any type of ring or bracelet, these are very likely to catch and, in some cases, break and fall out of their settings. These types of purchases should be explained to the customer in a way that assists and advises the customer and still allows the sale or an alternative choice of purchase.

Diamonds and semi-precious stones can easily break when pressure is applied, such as lifting heavy shopping, gripping handrails, changing gear whilst driving, using gymnasium equipment, etc; there are many possibilities with modern day living that can incur evidenced customer damage.

We experience many occasions when an item is returned by the customer to the salesperson or company with minor or major, accidental loss of small diamond/s or misshapen rings etc, these are often easily remedied at minimal costs and frequently the salesperson makes no charge if this is a recent sale.

In this scenario, it is wise to have a take-in procedure that allows the customer to see that the loss or damage is customer induced accidental damage, however, perhaps there will be no charge on this occasion.  Often the salesperson takes the least line of resistance and says nothing and just carries out the remedial work. This is a good opportunity to enquire if the customer has any insurance, advising this would normally be a chargeable repair resulting in an insurance claim, under an all risk policy if one is held.

When the offending items are collected by the customer, a no charge receipt is advised to be issued stating that “customer induced accidental damage” “complimentary repair no charge”, the salesperson should ask the customer to sign for the item before leaving. This can only take place when the purchase is made at a shop or premises; other methods are needed for internet sales when this scenario occurs. Alternatively, if a nominal charge or reduced charge is made, the same should be conveyed to the customer and the same procedure carried out with a signature. It is advisable that any remedial work carried out under any circumstances, that a photograph, before and after should be taken and retained.

We regularly come across customer multiple returns for the same item, often over an extended timeline, eventually the customer blames the sale on faulty goods and end up asking for their money back. By maintain a robust take-in procedure and retaining the no charge receipts and the before and after photographs, the customer cannot at a later date accuse the jeweller of faulty goods. This type of claim is usually initiated by an uninsured customer

With an evidenced, paper trail and a robust take-in procedure, every jeweller, workshop and manufacturer can protect themselves. With the best intentions by the jeweller, this can sometimes cause unnecessary anxiety because of small but significant procedures that are missing in a jewellery business.

Barry Sullivan