Layaway programs can be beneficial to stores on a number of levels, particularly in the area of customer service. By offering customers flexible payment options that do not require the use of plastic, retailers show that they are willing to work with customers in a still tight economy to purchase the gifts they want for the holidays. Would a layaway program add to your customer service efforts? Consider these factors before you answer that question.
Benefits of Layaway to the Business
Layaway plans can be beneficial to your business for a number of reasons, including:
• Encouraging customers to shop with your business
• Typically resulting in higher sales
• Risk-free way of increasing sales of big-ticket items
While these may be good reasons for your business to consider a layaway program, they don’t address the issue of improving service to the customer. To sell your layaway program, you must emphasize the benefits to the customer as well.
Benefits of Layaway to the Customer
Customers choose layaway programs for a variety of reasons, including:
• Allows them to purchase big-ticket items without using credit card
• Gives them the chance to shop early for the most popular items of the season
• Provides a way to shop for the holidays without breaking the budget
Despite the advantages of layaway programs, these plans have gotten a bad rap over the years. Some stores have capitalized on the layaway concept by charging high fees or cancellation charges on layaway purchases. Consumers have now been warned to avoid these predatory practices and shop around for the best deal. Now is the perfect time to sell your layaway program as a customer service asset, provided you take away the negative features and stick with only the positive benefits for your customers.
Creating a Customer-Friendly Layaway Program
To ensure your layaway program gets a customer-friendly thumbs-up, create a plan from the perspective of your customer. As you do so, consider the following:
• Draft a clear agreement policy that is easy for the customer to understand, without hidden fees or terms
• Eliminate fees and cancellation charges entirely – other stores are doing it too, so you will need to do so as well to remain competitive from a financial and a service perspective
• Give the customer a lower price on the item, if he finds the lower price at another store while his item is on layaway
• Advertise your layaway program through signage in your store, as well as other marketing avenues
• Provide flexible payment options that make it easier and more convenient to pay off the item in full
• Train employees on your layaway plan, so customers get clear, accurate information about the program, no matter who they ask
A layaway plan has been a popular option for many stores for decades, particularly when the holidays roll around. Layaway can be a fun way to wait for a special item before the season arrives. By offering a clear, simple, customer-friendly layaway plan to your customers, you raise the bar on your customer service level while raising your sales numbers at the same time.