Deal Sites and Customer Service. Does it matter to your business?

» Posted by on Feb 1, 2013 in Marketing | 0 comments

Deal Sites and Customer Service.  Does it matter to your business?

Some time ago we wrote about daily deal sites, which included sites such as;  Groupon, Google Offers, Living Social , and others and how they are influencing pricing and purchasing patterns of consumers and the B2C companies who service them.

I use these sites regularly and wanted to compare a customer service experience that I recently had where I was able to contrast Google Offers and Groupon.

By way of background, I was looking to purchase a couple of small corporate gifts for the holidays.  I was tired of sending chocolates / fruit baskets/  etc. and wanted to try purchasing something that my clients may use rather than just try to get rid of.

First, I saw something that I thought would work on Groupon,  it happened to be cigars which, while maybe not so PC these days, would fit the bill for one of our clients. I went on the site and purchased the cigars intending to give them as a gift.  So far, so good.  Now I am willing to admit to user error a much as the next person, but I wanted to send the actual cigars rather than send an email that they could then redeem.  I was worried that the email might get lost in a spam filter, or just be forgotten in the crush of ones email inbox leaving me in the awkward position of having to “remind” them to use the gift that I gave them.  I ordered the item, but could not figure out how send the cigars to them directly so I ended up rescinding my purchase.   Ok, first attempt failed,  I tried it again, certain that something as basic as giving a gift must be covered and that it was my error.  Again I was unsuccessful, but this time I decided that I would just let the purchase go through, call customer service and have them straighten it out for me.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I could not find a Groupon customer service phone number so I send in my request via email as directed.  I immediately received back via a mail demon that told that Groupon was very busy and while they like to get back to clients within 24 hours, it would be more like 48 hours.  Fast forward, two days later and I get a second mail demon telling me that they were very sorry but they were still not able to get to my request as they were still very busy.

What to do?  I went on the site where I was purchasing the cigars, and just filled out my clients name and address for shipping.  I also learned that my “deal” was a lot less so.  My groupon “deal” was more like 20% less vs. the 50% that they were telling me about.  Not really what I was hoping to hear.

The next gift, I purchased was from Google Offers.  I was looking to purchase something for a friend  / colleague and wanted to but something that she might actually like. I decided that there were not many woman who do not like getting a message so I found one in her part of the country that I felt was suitable,  checked out the reviews, and pulled the trigger.  Again,  I had some problems with sending it as a gift (you would think that I would learn).

Ok, here is where the story differs.  I was able to get a phone number and called customer service.  They had a cool piece of technology where I put in my phone number and they called me back, which I was ok with and worked well.  I had someone on the  line in 90 seconds who explained that while they typically send out an email for a gift purchase, I could print out a hard copy of the offer and send it to them via snail mail.  While they agreed that it was not optimal, it did work for me.  In addition, when I asked, they informed me the providers of the goods and services like to have the price on the good on the offer so as not to confuse it with other promotions that they might be doing and it could not be removed.  Not great but ok.  They left me relatively happy and said that they would share my feedback on publishing the pricing (I did not like it).

What is my point?  After a few days, I was thinking how consumers view companies they do business with.  If you think of your own interactions with companies, I bet you view some companies as having good customer service and some as not.  Now, I understand that there are costs, staffing, peak times, etc. that make customer service hard.  But if companies are going to spend significant time and effort to attract new clients, then part of that matrix should be how good or bad customer service can affect client retention.  Customers are hard to get so it seems a shame to blow it on poor customer service.  What do you think? 


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