Your Business Can Help Support Financial Literacy

2/4/2004

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Every financial decision a consumer makes has some impact on their quality of life and typically affects their relationship with a business. Merchants that provide the right support to their customers can help them make smart decisions in the marketplace, protect them from being defrauded and contribute to a better financial future for their families. This is good for consumers and good for business.

The Better Business Bureau recommends that businesses take time to consider how they might help their customers to make educated purchasing decisions. Remember; informed customers are more likely to be satisfied customers and satisfied customers are repeat customers.

The Better Business Bureau suggests the following:

  • Be clear about your terms up-front. Do not be so eager to make a sale that you neglect to mention any additional costs or penalties a customer may face if there are changes. Devise a clear policy relating to those changes. Your policy should state what types of changes will incur a charge and which will be free. Before asking a customer to sign on the dotted line, ask if they understand the terms.

  • Misunderstandings can be avoided if you have a written agreement, such as a contract, purchase order or signed proposal. But, do not depend on the client to read the fine print - make sure you clearly point out the penalties for changes or cancellations. If you do not ask your customers for a signed agreement, send them an e-mail or letter confirming the terms of your oral agreement. If the purchase was a special deal or limited time offer, be sure you explain that to the customer and let them know, in writing, when the offer expires. That will prove helpful if the customer demands the same price months later.

  • Detail your refund or return policy verbally and in writing.

  • Make sure your advertising says what it means and mean what it says. Deceptive and misleading advertising will only hurt your business and industry.

  • Establish a customer service program and train your employees accordingly. Make sure the program covers basic expectations on everything from telephone courtesy to product or service knowledge to handling dissatisfied customers.

  • In order to help a potential customer make a more informed buying decision, be forthcoming with detailed information about your business, its product or service, and anything else deemed pertinent to the situation. A legitimate business should have nothing to hide, and if a customer thinks you are withholding the information they need, they may go elsewhere.
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