It’s that time of year again – ghosts and goblins and all things scary. Good times – especially when fun-size candy bars are involved. But when it comes to customer loyalty, scary is . . . well . . . just plain scary. Lately I’ve read some terrifying stories of retailers’ frightful attempts to reward customers and solidify relationships. I’d like to share one of those spine-tingling tales with you. Hopefully it doesn’t creep you out too much.
A Trick rather than a Treat
A recent blog post described a Best Buy customer’s harrowing experience as she tried to redeem a $20 reward that was sent to her. Excited to receive her treat, she happily entered the local Best Buy – unsuspecting of the horror that awaited her.
Rigor Mortis Rules
Standing in the check-out line only to be told that she needed to wait in another line at Customer Service to redeem her “reward” was enough to make her scream. But it got worse. After waiting yet again, she was told that she could not redeem the reward because her purchase was $19.99 – a penny short of the face value of her certificate. Apparently, that was against the rules. She offered to give them the additional penny – but that didn’t fly. Reluctantly, this customer added a tube of lip balm to her purchase so that the total amount would exceed the required $20.
RIP Customer Loyalty
I left out a lot of the gory details but ultimately the length of this customer’s nightmare was 35 minutes. The last line of her blog post encapsulated her new sentiment: “Way to make me feel rewarded Best Buy!” Sounds like her loyalty may have met the Grim Reaper.
Turn Chilling into Thrilling
There are some ways that dreadful outcomes like this can be avoided:
1. Make it easy for customers to redeem. If this customer didn’t exaggerate her story and indeed had to wait in two lines to use her reward – shame on Best Buy. Every customer experience needs to be easy and convenient.
2. Empower the front line. Clearly this customer had a frustrating experience. Trained customer-facing employees should have recognized this and had the latitude to rectify it immediately. Never, ever let a customer go home angry. (See the 5-Second Rule for an example of a retailer who did it right.)
3. Don’t be so rigid. Retailers tend to get so caught up in their rules that they risk estranging their customers rather than endearing them. It is a bit mind-boggling that a customer relationship would be jeopardized over a single penny.
Keep an Eyeball on the Big Picture
Customer relationships are much bigger than a single reward. Retailers can’t afford to let trivial rules frighten away their future business. Disenchanted customers tend to be vocal and share their experiences with the world. In fact, 25% of shopping conversations are posted online while the customer is still in the store – a definite sign of the times. Monitoring social media and rectifying those issues as soon as possible can help mitigate irreparable damage.
So, what loyalty experiences have you encountered lately? Were they tricks? Or, were they treats? Please share!