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How to Craft a Customer Satisfaction Guarantee that Builds Trust and Increases Sales

A strong customer satisfaction guarantee reverses risk.

Your guarantee, then, is a statement of confidence.

It removes the risk from the customer and places it squarely on you. If the product doesn’t satisfy, the customer doesn’t lose. You do.

People know you’ll only be willing to do that if you’re absolutely sure your product is good.

Your guarantee, then, is a statement of confidence. And when you ooze confidence, your customers feel it too.

In short, there’s no better way to build trust than with a bold guarantee

4 Elements of a Power-House Customer Satisfaction Guarantee

In the book, How to Create Irresistible Offers, Bob Bly lists 4 key elements of a strong guarantee. Get these right and you’ll have a guarantee that builds trust and increases sales.

Let’s take a look at each…

1. Customer Satisfaction Guarantee Length

This is the time period of the guarantee—how long it lasts.

Ten days is the shortest you should go. Lifetime is the longest. The most common are 30, 60 or 90 days, or a year.

As you might guess, the longer the time period, the stronger the guarantee. But beware. Although a lifetime guarantee is compelling, it’s not always the best idea.

Let’s say you sell an information product and, after a few years, the information becomes outdated. Your customers could use the product for decades (and get every benefit you promised) then suddenly decide it isn’t relevant and ask for their money back.

I’ve also heard of people getting into financial distress, then seeing your product and remembering the lifetime guarantee. They return it simply to pay the rent that month.

Your best bet is a guarantee period that gives customers time to use the product and be certain it works for them, plus a little extra.

My recommendation: Shoot for a year or less as the length of your guarantee.

An example of a customer satisfaction guarantee that lasts one year

2. Customer Satisfaction Guarantee Conditions

Guarantees may or may not be unconditional. You can place any conditions you feel are appropriate, as long as you communicate them clearly.

For instance, the B.S. Inner Circle isn’t as no-hassle as you’d expect. They call it a “100% satisfaction guarantee.” But they include a few conditions:

  • You have to have purchased the product from their resource center
  • You must return all parts of the product, including forms, bonus materials, and original packaging
  • Returns must be in “like new” condition
  • Failure to comply will result in a 10% restocking fee

It sounds like they’ve had some abusers and needed to find a way to protect themselves. But pit this guarantee against other 100% guarantees, and you probably agree it’s not as powerful.

Fewer conditions yield better results, so keep them to a minimum.

When buyers see lots of conditions or hoops they have to jump through to qualify for a guarantee, they get nervous. The more conditions, the lower their trust levels. In short, this type of guarantee can hurt, not help, conversions.

That being the case, if you don’t place conditions on your returns, say so. Call it an “unconditional, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee.” Create a seal that makes it stand out. Then place it where everyone can see it.

As Idaho Mountain Touring does with Bontrager gear

Idaho Mountain Touring guarantee for Bontrager gear

Bottom line: Fewer conditions yield better results, so keep them to a minimum.

3. Customer Satisfaction Guarantee Coverage

What exactly is being guaranteed? Does your money-back guarantee cover shipping and handling or other fees? Or does it only cover the product? Be careful that you’re clear about what’s covered and what’s not.

Here’s where you can get creative with your guarantee.

For example, a free trial often incentivizes action better than an offer to buy now, especially for first-time customers. Add a few bonuses, a coupon, and an offer to exchange any product customers don’t love.

That’s what Audible does in this persuasive offer. The only thing they could do to make it better is to add a literal guarantee. (Their “cancel anytime” message is as close as they get.)

Audible's offer covering what a membership entails

I like the way Bob Bly does it in his sales letters. This one is for a training manual, but the same gutsy guarantee is used on all his ebooks.

Bob Bly guarantee in one of his sales letters

Here’s why it works:

  • It’s long: a full 3 months
  • You don’t have to return the ebook
  • No questions will be asked

Essentially, Bob has removed every trace of risk.

But there are no rules, and you can offer any type of guarantee you want. For example, a price guarantee. This one comes from Best Buy:

Best Buy's price guarantee

If you sell a product that people must buy in advance of a project, you can reduce risk by guaranteeing they won’t be stuck with leftovers. U-Haul does that with moving boxes:

U-Haul's buy-back guarantee for unused boxes

What are other guarantees you could offer?

  • Guarantee the quality of your product
  • Guarantee that your product has fewer problems
  • Guarantee that it lasts longer

Determine why people resist purchasing (or purchasing more), then create a guarantee that covers that situation.

Here’s an odd-ball guarantee: Dan Kennedy has actually guaranteed his sales letters. In a direct mail piece, he offers a “reward” if you read the entire promotion and feel it was a waste of your time.

The letter begins like this:

“How can something sent to you free be guaranteed? Here’s my promise: if you read the attached, admittedly lengthy letter about your speaking business and listen to the enclosed audio cassettes and watch the enclosed video, and you honestly feel I’ve wasted your time, just jot me a note to that effect on the back of this certificate and I’ll either pay you $25.00 or donate $50.00 to Habitat For Humanity, your choice.” (Source: The Ultimate Sales Letter.)

Craft a guarantee that covers as much as possible and removes as much risk as possible. Your best bet is to determine why people resist purchasing (or purchasing more), then create a guarantee that covers that situation.

4. Customer Satisfaction Guarantee Activation

When does the guarantee period begin? And what do customers have to do to get their guarantee?

With products, this may seem obvious. The guarantee begins as soon as you take ownership: when you purchase, when the product arrives in the mail, or after you download it. But what about events?

Most businesses turn the first few hours or the first day as a trial period. Here’s how AWAI does it:

AWAI money-back guarantee for an event

The key is to clearly communicate not only the conditions of the guarantee but how to collect.

Which brings up another good point: Be very clear about what people can expect.

Rite Aid does this by letting people know how long it will take for their return to be processed:

Rite Aid return policy for products bought online

Okay, so you’ve got the 4 elements to craft a customer satisfaction guarantee. Your next step is to determine…

Where to Place Your Guarantee

Now, this step depends.

If it’s a gutsy guarantee that no one else in your industry is offering, test it in your headline or make your guarantee prominent. Hyundai made news when they introduced their 10-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty. Now, their Assurance Promise has its own tab on their website.

The Hyandai Assurance drop-down

Now, if you’re writing a traditional sales letter, place it in the offer, just below the price presentation.

(RELATED: The Most Persuasive Word in the English Language (Plus 3 Sales Letter Formulas That Put It to Work))

It’s also a good idea to repeat your guarantee on the purchase page. That way you can calm those last-minute buyer jitters.

The Bottom Line

If trust is the new currency—and it is—a strong guarantee is your key to profits.

People aren’t comfortable with risk, so even if they’re drooling over your product, if they feel there’s any risk of loss, they’ll resist taking action.

On the other hand, if you remove risk by taking the full brunt of any misunderstandings or dissatisfaction, you’ll significantly improve your chances of closing the sale.

A strong guarantee is your key to profits.

So, your task is simple:

  • Come up with the strongest guarantee you can afford to make
  • Make it bigger than any other guarantee in your industry, as proof that you believe your product is better
  • Be creative. Look for anything that creates buyer resistance and craft a guarantee that removes risk
  • Stand behind your promises

If you truly believe in your product, this shouldn’t be hard.

Communicate your confidence clearly, and you’ll be rewarded with higher sales.

Kathryn Aragon

Kathryn Aragon

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