It was supposed to be a romantic evening, a dinner in a highly recommended Italian restaurant that we purchased through one of the social shopping sites. When we arrived, we handed in our dinner voucher and we were seated at the table. We waited for 30 minutes trying to get a waiter to serve us a drink, or anything for that matter, but all we got was a ‘in a minute’ wave over and over again. Our dinner was served an hour later and my ‘homemade pasta full of fresh veggies’ turned out to be a small (and I mean, really small) plate of pasta with canned peas. Canned peas! I’m not kidding you. Other people’s food looked much better, delicious to be honest. But then again, they were paying a ‘full price’ for their dinner, so that’s OK right? No, not really. After we waited another half an hour for a bill, we rushed home to get some real food. The sad part is that this is not my first unpleasant experience with a retailer that I got acquainted with via a social shopping site. There were many. Too many, if you ask me.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of social shopping and deal-of-the-day sites. I am a member of Groupon, iBood, Heartsy, etc. and I frequently purchase goods and services through those sites. I think that the idea is brilliant and benefits are great for both customers and businesses participating. Customers get a great deal and an opportunity to get to know a new service or product for a reduced price. For retailers, participation in Groupon-like sites helps them generate a large number of sales in a short period of time, create online WOM and gain new customers. For me, the biggest value for retailers lies in the last one – gaining new customers. But from my experiences, it looks like this is the one that is not really understood nor taken advantage of by the retailers. That’s why this message:
Dear Retailers: Please stop missing out on this great opportunity! Don’t just WOW us with the price, WOW us with your service. Remember that the value of a customer is not what he is going to spend with you now. The true value of a customer is what he is going to spend with you for the REST OF HIS LIFE. So once you have motivated customers to purchase your product or service by participating in a social shopping site, please don’t treat them like second-rate customers. On the contrary, please provide them with a superior experience that will make them want to come back to you and recommend your products and services to their online social circle. A little respect and good customer service sounds to me like a really small price to pay for.