An exciting new promotion that will lose us lots of customers

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Like me, you have probably had a less than happy experience when claiming a discount or reward at a store or restaurant.

For me, it came to a head a few years ago when a bunch of friends and I went to a restaurant with a “buy one main meal get another free” voucher. When I went to pay and handed over the voucher the manager was visibly displeased and scolded me. He said I should have told them about the voucher when we ordered. This made me wonder why that mattered. Would my meal be different in some way if they knew up front that they had to give it to me for free?
 
This turned a pleasant experience into an unpleasant one, and we never went back there again. So, a voucher intended to increase business ended up doing the exact opposite. They were always going to lose the cost of the meal, but they chose to lose a customer as well.
 
They were actually spending money to drive customers away.
 
In a world where the availability of choices is increasing we hear more and more that the way to differentiate is not on price, but on customer service.
 
You use a promotion to lure people in, but you keep them with the positive feeling they get from the experience.
 
There are a lot of schemes like this. I bought a game console from a store at Christmas and noted that a competitor had a cheaper price. The girl at the counter immediately looked up the item on the internet and found it somewhere else even cheaper still. She then sold it to me for that price with a smile on her face and a thank you for coming. For days I told everyone I met how great it was.
 
A customer that is drawn in by a scheme and wants to participate will not stay a customer if they feel disappointed, embarrassed, frustrated, or cheated at the outcome.
 
So, if you are going to embark on one of these schemes you better be prepared to do it properly, or not at all. Commit to giving away what you said you would give away, and do it happily.
 
Otherwise it will end up that you have spent a lot of money and effort to ensure that your objectives fail.

Steven Hafey

Steven Hafey

Steven Hafey is a Technical Business Analyst for ERP vendor Pronto Software.

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