I recently received an email with the title, “A Refund Has Been Issued”. While on the one hand it was a relief to know I wasn’t losing any money, on the other hand, I was pretty flabbergasted; it was even a question.
In life we know that trust is something that must be earned, and it’s hard to restore once it’s broken. If you’re trying to woo a customer, the last thing you want to do is lose their faith in you or your brand.
This company lured me in with a coupon for a free year. It was intriguing, and well, me being a bit of a geek, I bit! I like trying out new products. If it can save me money, time, or just make my life easier, then it’s worth checking out.
Sometimes the product might not even be for me; it could be for someone I’m consulting with or a need for another customer. Or even just a resource to add to my recommended resource list.
The First Warning Sign
Being an online entrepreneur myself I understand that some order systems or merchant services just don’t like free trials. In this case they “gift” you with a coupon for a free year. On the order page you still need to add your payment information to satisfy the cart requirements and then entering the coupon sets it to $0. Then, it processes the order and away you go to receive the product.
Of course, like anything else you need to read the full sales letter and fine print. I’m sure the sales copy probably said some- where, “cancel before the end of the year, or you will be billed the full price to continue using the product.”
Marketing Time Out
Having been online as long as I have, I’ve tested different trial offers. While a free trial seems appealing, it really doesn’t convert very well. People aren’t serious unless they have skin in the game. Meaning, they will be a more serious customer if they pay something, or it costs them something.
It could be a $7 trial for 21-days. Or if you’re an information marketer, a free book plus shipping and handling. Everyone likes “FREE” —you will find that out real quick as your opt- in list will increase from all of these new prospects taking the freebie offer. The flip side of that though is many of those will remain on your freebie list and never take action, provided they even entered a real email address. Admit it, you have that junk freebie email you use.
Remember Everyone is Not Your Target Market!
The Second Warning Sign
Crickets, zilch, nada, or so it seems. I mean I hadn’t heard any- thing from this company for a year and out of the blue I get the message, “Here’s Your Receipt for $119!
Wait, what? PUMP THE BRAKES! Who is this company? Who just stole $100+ from my account? Did I say you could take that money? That gets your attention really quick. Right? Obviously, they didn’t steal it, you gave them permission but that’s how it feels. You feel robbed, cheated, swindled.
You check the receipt and still scratch your head. Who is this person/company? I instantly sent a refund request to them, only to receive an apology. Oh, I’m sorry you agreed to this annual subscription when you accepted the coupon so we can’t issue a refund.
Obviously, by the title of this article, a refund was issued. With nearly 25 years online, I’ve worked with enough payment and merchant services. I know how this all works. In fact, I have my own cart system, PayBlue.com, so I know a thing or two about online payments.
Marketing Time Out #2
As with all aspects of life, communication is king. Think about it. Not only in business, but any relationship will thrive with proper communication or the reverse—die off with miscommunication.
In this case it turns out they had in fact try to communicate with me. But, for whatever reason it didn’t land in my inbox. I know I’ve written in the past about testing your systems. If they had done that, I wouldn’t have needed to ask for a refund.
I’m not saying you should email the customer daily saying you have X number of days before your trial runs out. Though I would recommend in the situation of a year trial that it should be told to them that in 30-days the trial will expire, and an annual subscription will be billed.
That being said, ANY product that you sell should have a follow up system in place teaching purchasers how to consume the product or service they purchased from you. If you think about it, you crafted a sales process to get them to buy so wouldn’t you want to put as much effort into keeping them as a customer?
If you do this, they wouldn’t have the chance to forget you, and they may start looking to you as a friend trying to help them succeed. And, if you’ve done your job of teaching them to use your product or service, they’ll not only be a long-term customer, but they also most likely will turn into a salesperson for you.
If you buy something that you really like, don’t you usually tell others about this cool thing that’s saved you time and money? Imagine, if this customer receives a reward (sales commission) for telling others about the product. Part of your post sales follow up is to train them how to use the product which then turns into training them to tell others about the product. This is why communication is key.
Wouldn’t you rather send out emails that say, “You’ve Earned a Sales Commission” instead of emails that say, “A Refund Has Been Issued”? The latter costs you money out of your pocket and your online reputation.
Plan of Action Takeaways
- Be aware of the fine print when buying If it’s a trial, mark it on your calendar a day before cancellation so you’re not surprised.
- Don’t feel that you have to accept it. Granted, if it’s a monthly “service” you may have to pay for the current month or even year if you’ve agreed to a year pricing Know your rights. Talk to your bank or credit card company if you have questions. A business owner really doesn’t want a chargeback.
- If you’re a marketer check your systems. Are they working as planned?
- Review, or install a follow up If you don’t know what this is visit https://justaskfrank.com
I hope my moment of panic has helped you to improve your business and also, not fall into the same trap. Keep learning and growing!