How to Destroy Your Groupon Goodwill

Groupon

I am a big fan of Groupon. I’ve watched it keenly since I first heard about it more than a year ago but only in January 2011 did it become available in my location. I was eager to try it but it took a while to find a Groupon that appealed to me. In late January I found one: a custom made shirt. The price was low, the appeal was high. I pounced. And it all worked perfectly. The service was excellent. The product was delivered ahead of schedule and I was getting compliments from colleagues about how good it looked. I was telling my friends how great the tailor was. It was about as good a start to an extended retailer-customer relationship a merchant can receive from a one-off marketing campaign. However, when I went back to order more (at the higher original price) the deal had changed and all that goodwill the tailor had invested in evaporated in moments.

Merchants that choose to utilise Groupon as part of their marketing need to be aware that it is a long term investment and that they need to be prepared to offer the same buying experience for at least the term of the deal (usually 6months) and preferably much longer (a year or more). This includes having the systems in place and suppliers that will deliver the exact same quality on the last day of the deal as they did on the first day. The moment there’s a change someone is going to feel ripped off.

For instance with my shirt I had a choice of over 90 different fabrics for the shirt. Unfortunately only two were dark coloured – I prefer dark shirts – and when I expressed my disappointment the owner declared that the 90 or so were only for the Groupon deal and that under normal circumstances I would have had over 500 fabrics to choose from. He showed me six or so fabric books. That sounded great to me and once the Groupon experience proved so pleasant I was eager to see their normal range of fabrics. Unfortunately, when I returned they no longer offered 500 fabrics, only the 90 or so that were part of the Groupon deal – and even they had changed, there were now more dark coloured fabrics available. What had been a very pleasant buying experience suddenly turned into an unpleasant return.

One of the great uses for Groupon is to lower the barriers of entry for first-time customers that are dithering about buying your product or service. By enticing them with the lower price you can provide them with a taste of the experience, and by using group buying services like Groupon you may still be able to make up what you lose on the per item price with increased volumes. At the very least you should be able garner increased impact from the marketing. That’s why it’s so great for new businesses hoping to gather a customer base and possibly generate some buzz too.

Your Groupon deal should be used as an invitation to forge an extended relationship with the customer. It’s an opportunity to show them you provide excellent customer service and a superior product, but also to allay any fears they may have about the experience. You want them to value it so highly they wish to repeat it over and over again. Groupon should never be viewed as a short-term expense. It is a medium-long term investment.

Groupon is a great service, however the benefits Groupon returns to your business are dependent entirely on how you treat the customers it drives to you. It is only an introduction to have a further conversation: a chance to build a lasting relationship. And like any relationship, if you don’t live up to your customer’s expectations, it can turn sour. The spurned lover rarely returns. That is something that you need to be aware of and guard against.

Meanwhile, anybody have a recommendation for a great men’s tailor in Singapore? =)

About the Author: skribe

Based in Perth, Australia, Antonio Barimen (aka skribe) is a writer, digital media consultant and social media producer.

He is available to help you develop social marketing and digital media strategies, improving communication between staff, partners and suppliers or just increasing the number of fans on Facebook. He has developed successful digital and social media projects for clients including CBS, Evian, Procter & Gamble, Discovery Networks, Pernod Ricard and American Express.

Connect with him on Twitter or Google Plus.
Tags: , , ,
Post Under Advice, Marketing, Social Media April 11, 2011