Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The first commandment of business: Honor thy offer

Here's a tip for all the business owners and managers out there:

When you've signed up with a partner to help promote your business, put a plan in place to so your employees actually honor the deal when your customers request it.

Seems pretty obvious, right? Apparently, it's not.

Last week we held our annual holiday "shopping" men's night in Madison. The night always begins at one of State Street's legendary establishments and since I'm trying to fully understand this whole social media/mobile marketing phenomenon, upon arrival I checked in on foursquare where I was pleasantly surprised to find the watering hole in question was offering $5 off your tab when you checked in.

After ordering, I asked the bartender about the deal and his response was, "I don't even know what foursquare is." Upon showing him the screen on my phone, he still had no idea about the special.

Needless to say, he couldn't help me take advantage of the promotion.

Needless to say, I was less than satisfied with that response.

Being that it was the holidays and I was with friends, I let it go. But the lesson here is pretty clear.

A lot of decisions in a business are made at levels way above the front line employees. Whether it's a daily deal offered on the web, a change or update to your product, a customer service policy or any other decision that directly impacts your customer, you must communicate with the front lines.

Nothing makes a brand or business look worse than confusion.


  1. Would that be a certain "club" named after a guy named Paul by any chance?

    I agree... and add that if a business is going to have a contact form from a website, said business may want to check whatever email account is connected to that contact form. On more than one occasion, I have used a contact form for a small brick and mortar business's website, and never got any kind of response. That's enough to move me from neutral to negative in terms of my impression of that business... probably not they goal when the business put up the web site in the first place.

  2. Yes, my employer has done this in the past - when the planets align, employees get an email a day or two in advance of a promotion, but often the first indication we have is when the first customer calls or walks in the door. That said, we ALWAYS honor the deal, despite looking like idiots for being the last to know.

  3. Was this part of the American Express small business deals? That requires no effort on the part of employees - in fact it has nothing to do with management at all - but rather requires the Foursquare user to link their AmEx card to their Foursquare account. The $5 credit is then applied to your credit card statement. It requires for you to charge your drinks to that card, but staff in the establishment have nothing to do with redemption of the "deal."

  4. Interesting, Alicia. If that was the case (and I think it was) then someone should have been able to explain that to me at the bar or Amex should have communicated that ahead of time. Either way, it was a minor annoyance on an otherwise terrific evening. That's the trouble with multi-partner promotions. It muddles both the responsibility and communication.