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Posted on 10.14.2010

Turning a Loss Leader into a Repeat Customer

Hint:  Don’t Gripe to the Customer About the Discount You Offer

I am a big fan of Groupons, the email coupon offers delivered to my inbox every day. I’ve purchased several over the last year and have visited a few new restaurants, shops and spas as a result. While I have had a few great experiences, I’ve also been absolutely mystified by some of the businesses I’ve visited to redeem a Groupon I’ve purchased. More than half the time, when I present the Groupon, the salesperson (and even the business owner!) rolls her eyes and starts complaining about the Groupon. I can’t believe that, instead of asking me if it’s my first visit to the store or just engaging in a friendly conversation with a customer, they whine to me about how much money they are losing on Groupons and how they can’t wait till the expiration date rolls around. It’s very awkward. Somehow, I’m made to feel like I’m taking advantage of someone. Never mind the fact that I paid good money for the Groupon; never mind that the business entered into the coupon arrangement with full knowledge of the discount they were offering, I’ve gotten to where I’ve started to apologize for buying anything with it. Instead of thanking me for shopping with them and trying to establish a relationship, it’s clear they can’t wait to get me out the door. It strikes me as such a loss. They’ve essentially “paid” to get me in there, and now they appear to resent the fact that I had the nerve to actually use the discount they offered. I think Groupons are a great way for a business to promote its products and services for a relatively low marketing investment. Unless the proprietor is completely incompetent at pricing, businesses have to be making at least a small profit. And, even if they aren’t, they can use this successful bit of advertising to engage with the customer and let them know more about the services or products available. Ask for my email addresses. Invite me back for a future sale. And how about this one: Say thank you for my purchase instead of huffing and sighing at the cash register. I can name at least eight businesses where I will never again darken the door because of the way I was treated when using a Groupon. Did nobody ever teach these people anything about marketing – or customer service? A happy customer is a loyal and frequent customer. An unsatisfied customer tells ten people. Or, in my case, maybe a lot more. Are you having this same experience with these Groupons?

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