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January 2000

For Your Staff: Selling Timepieces

But I Just Got This Watch!

It's return season. Here's how to keep your customer happy

The post-holiday season always brings highs and lows for retail jewelers. The highs? Finishing a productive and profitable sales period helping countless customers take home something special for the holidays.

The lows? You're tired and need some well-deserved rest. It's good to rest, but don't let down your guard when it comes to following up on all those holiday sales. Some customers will be back this month with returns and exchanges.

Regular returns and exchanges are straightforward. But what if someone brings you a new watch that fails to operate or keep time correctly? How you handle this customer, whether the return is made this month or in three months, will have a long-term impact on your relationship.

Take Care of the Customer

Going "by the book" is usually a good idea. Presumably you have a return-and-exchange policy that's clearly written and understood by employees and customers.

What should your policy be regarding watches under a manufacturer's warranty? Simply put: Place a working one on the customer's wrist as soon as possible. But this can be a complex challenge and depends on several factors.

First, give the manufacturer the clear opportunity to make good under whatever warranty provisions exist. Immediately send the watch to the manufacturer with the appropriate receipts and completed warranty cards.

This can take several weeks, and some customers will be patient with that amount of time. It helps if you've done a good job explaining the warranty and if you have a decent watch to lend while the customer's new one is being repaired.

However, not every customer will be so reasonable. And it's easy to understand why. Imagine you just received a fine watch and it failed to perform properly. Maybe it was just a bad battery or old inventory you didn't keep tabs on. Perhaps there's a more serious problem with the movement or a defective bracelet. Regardless, if your customer lost faith in the watch, he or she may demand a new one rather than a repair.

Watch or Wearer Problem?

Before replacing a watch, make a gentle and caring diagnosis. Carefully review with the customer his or her wearing habits. Find out if the customer understands how to operate the new watch correctly. Perhaps the sales associate didn't explain automatic movements or screw-down crowns correctly.

Your goal is to discover whether the problem exists with the watch or with the wearer. It's vital to do this in a consultative, non-condescending manner. Ask probing but friendly questions. Customers don't want to be treated as if they're dense. Remember, it's their watch but your problem to resolve.

Next Month: Avoiding Return Pitfalls

By Paul White, Watch Division Director, Reis-Nichols Jewelers, Indianapolis, IN

Each month Paul White fills this column with sales tips for retailers who want to sell more watches. If you have suggestions for topics, questions for Paul or specific examples from your store, send them to Professional Jeweler, 1500 Walnut St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia, PA 19102; timepieces@professionaljeweler.com.



Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.



 

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