Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Don't Make Your Customers Mad

Why would I want to make my customers mad? Apparently some retailers think it's okay to piss off a few people.

This Thursday the fliers hit the door with all the early bird doorbuster specials for Black Friday, and some of them are going to make customers mad.

Look at the fine print in these ads and you'll see what I mean.

Some of the best deals say "minimum 2 per store" meaning that stores in smaller communities (like Jackson) may only have 2 of those great items they're using to draw a big crowd. If you're standing in that line at 5am you gotta ask yourself... Will you be one of the lucky two? Or will you be one of the mad?

Some of those deals aren't deals at all. Read the model numbers and compare them to what the stores currently sell. Some of those doorbusters are what we call derivatives or one-offs. They look the same as the original, but some features have been stripped out to make it cheaper. Will you be one of the shoppers who did the research and is happy with what you gave up? Or will you be one of the mad?

Some of you will give up sleep, fight crowds, and wait in long lines. Some of you will find that fun. Some of you will be mad. (If you ever wondered why some people love Black Friday and others hate it, click here.)

And think about the staff. They had to give up spending time with their families. They got too little sleep. They're overworked (and underpaid). They're on the front lines having to deal with all these unhappy customers. Some of them aren't all that happy now either.

I've never quite figured out why these stores go through all this hassle knowing the outcome is that they will anger as many customers as they please, and not make many friends with their staff, either.

If you're offering any Black Friday specials, do your customers, your store, and your staff a favor.
  • Make sure you have ample supply of anything you advertise.
  • Be honest about the deal. If it's a derivative or one-off, let people know up front.
  • Train your staff to learn how to show empathy with unhappy customers and empower them with tools to solve problems and make the customers happy.
This Black Friday most every major retail chain will make a whole bunch of their customers mad by design.

You don't have to play that game, too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Phil

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