Money Back Guarantees: Should You Offer None, 30 Days, or 30 Years?

You may have heard that money-back guarantees are a good idea but you are not sure if they are right for your business?

Perhaps you are holding back because you are worried it’s going to cost you money handing out dozens of refunds, right?

Offering any kind of money back guarantee is better than offering none at all because the main two things that customers care about is:

  1. Price
  2. Risk

And a money back guarantee helps with both.

A money back guarantee reduces risk for the customer because:

  • It signals that you are confident about the quality of your product
  • It reduces their nervousness about making a bad purchasing decision
  • It goes beyond the normal offer of replacing the item if something goes wrong, because they can get their money back

A money back guarantee reduces the price for the customer because:

  • There is a cost for returning something for a refund: time. Knowing that you are able to get cash back for your trouble is better compensation than a replacement
  • Customers perception is: Price + money-back-guarantee = Free Trial. Free is a customers favourite price

These are all “up-front” factors that persuade a customer to buy in the first place. Which is great.

In fact, let’s just slap a number on it and say that offering a money back guarantee will generate 20% more sales for you.

But the real magic happens in the “tail-end”, a long time after the sale.

Let’s say you purchased the Ginsu 2000 never-needs-sharpening-can-cut-through-a-can knife with a 30 year money back guarantee.

And it’s year number 29 and you decide it’s crap. Do you ask for your money back? Hell no. For 4 reasons:

  1. You forgot about the 30 year money back guarantee anyway
  2. You can’t be bothered
  3. You feel you got your moneys worth any way
  4. You don’t want to impose or be a nuisance
  5. You’ve had it so long it feels like yours, you feel like the owner. This reduces the obligation of the people you bought it from

Yes, it’s an extreme example but you get the idea. Let’s look at another:

Let’s say you purchased an ebook about Search Engine Optimisation for $19 with a 3 month money back guarantee.

It’s the 2nd month, and you only just got around to reading it and you decide it’s crap. Do you ask for your money back? Hell no. For 3 reasons:

  1. You forgot about the 3 month money back guarantee anyway
  2. You can’t be bothered
  3. You don’t want to impose or be a nuisance
  4. It’s in your possession and so you feel like the owner. This reduces the obligation of the author

Let’s just slap a number on it and say that you get 5% of customers that actually do go ahead and ask for their money back.

So to summarise, you are getting 20% more sales to get out 5% refunds… Ummm, that’s really good isn’t it?

Yes. Yes it is.

4 Ways to Make A Great Money Back Guarantee:

  1. Make the expiry really really long. The longer it is the more chance of the customer forgetting about it, or feeling like they are imposing by asking for their money back
  2. If a customer asks for their money back, provide it the same day. Don’t drag your feet and make them wait. You will impress them with your customer service, and this experience may trigger Word-of-Mouth so you might get new sales from people they talk too!
  3. Tell them up-front how to get one eg “To get your money back, just call us on 0800 xyz xyz and you’ll have your money back within 24 hours”. You could just provide an email form for them to request their money-back, but in this case, I advise putting up a small barrier for them and getting them to talk directly to you
  4. Arrange their refund over the phone, and when it’s finished and approved, at the last minute ask them why they asked for one. Their feedback might be valuable. Don’t ask this question upfront because it will make them feel more uncomfortable than they already are

What about services?

Money back guarantees can also work for services but you’ll have to go overboard with your offer Eg “If you are not happy with our car washing service we’ll redo it for free + give your money back”

What do you think about money back guarantees now?

What do you have to add to this? Will you give it a try for your business? What’s the most outrageous money-back guarantee you’ve ever seen?

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