Discover more from The Mmm...Letter
The Curse Part II
Rise of The Apologizer
This is not my New Year’s Issue, which is coming, but happy new year nonetheless to you and yours!
When we last left our heroine Simona, she was caught in the hair-pulling clutches of Josh, a weary customer service representative from an up-and-coming beauty brand.
And Josh himself was also caught somewhere between doing the right thing and whatever option Josh chose. To escape her captor, Simona requested a refund of the difference between the price she paid and the sale price which appeared the following day, a sum of $30.
Now before we hit play on the sequel, let’s explore how everything boils down to marketing, even customer service.
It’s All Marketing, Baby
As marketers, our job is to make one thing happen. That one thing is choice.
If we do our job right, when a person faces a problem we can solve, we become their choice.
To succeed at our job, we must first offer a solution. Then, we must have that solution take up real-estate in that person’s mind. And lastly, our solution must maintain some curb appeal in case that customer ever needs our services in the future.
In most cases, a customer faces the same problem multiple times. Our previous car solved my family’s transportation problems, and yet we still bought a new one.
So when it’s time for us to solve our transportation problem again, you want your dealership and your salespeople to own a stunning mansion by the beach inside of my mind – mental curb appeal.
Too often, companies sic their purebred marketers on prospects and leave the existing customers to the B-teams. The paramount job of maintaining a positive mental association with the brand is too often left to ‘cost centers.’
Warren Buffet said, “long after the purchase, customers forget the price they paid, but they never forget how they were treated.”
Simona’s nail kit might just be the absolute best nail kit she’s ever laid her pretty little hands on. But the quality of her kit has little chance to outshine the figurative dump that its makers took on the front lawn of her brain.
Here’s how her story wrapped up.
Policy or Idiocy?
Rather than process the refund, Josh reminded Simona of when the sale began, which was not under dispute; she merely hoped the company would throw her a parachute as she dove off their discount cliff.
Here’s Josh’s response:
“I hope this helps” is code for “I hope she stops emailing me.” She didn’t.
Simona saw the promo the morning of the 25th and had a screenshot to prove it – as it turns out, the company is based in Australia, which lives basically a day ahead of our central time zone, which helped explain the discrepancy.
But at this point Josh is splitting hairs. Simona never claimed to have received an unfair price. Her goal was to identify the discount cliff and receive some compensation for her buyer’s remorse – perhaps Aussies have never heard of it, because it got worse.
Where didn’t Josh go wrong?
At what point could Josh no longer ‘backdate sale date?’ I’m not surprised he couldn’t because until we can figure out what the heck he meant, I doubt anyone can backdate sale date.
Furthermore, I can’t imagine a scenario in which Simona gets ahold of customer service any sooner than she had. Remember, she started this conversation the same day she noticed the sale, less then 24-hours after her time of purchase – maybe she should’ve dialed Josh’s personal line instead.
And then the real kicker. After throwing away their entire conversation by admitting he can do nothing, despite stringing her along by avoiding the elephant in the room: they do not offer refunds, period, he steps in it again by inviting Simona to stay up-to-date on their promotions.
As they say among reputable company of good breeding, go fly a kite.
At this point, Simona took to social media – precisely where you want your angriest customers to congregate. And she used their hashtag to share this story.
Thanks to the small PR fire she started on their Facebook page, a representative reached out to Simona and offered the $30 discount she had asked for as a store credit. Too little, too late for a brand that chose to play the discount game, a game they played poorly.
They retargeted a first-time customer with Facebook ads for the very product that customer had purchased at full-price, and refused to give up the goodies that comfort such customers burned by a discount.
A lot of time, energy, and emotion wasted on a wholly avoidable situation. As the Internet likes to say: play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
It Never Stops
As a marketer, you’ve helped a prospect choose your company. But as soon as that happens, your work becomes to convince them to choose your company again, and again.
And when their co-workers stumble across the same problem, that customer helps their colleague choose you, too. That network effect is enough to sustain a business.
And without effort dedicated to that latter half of the job, you’ll have to dump more resources into the top of the funnel as you acquire new customers from a dwindling pool of self-educating prospects.
You will create a vacuum for a weak competitor to fill – all they need to do is position themselves as friendlier and consequently, superior to your brand. The market will learn the difference and your acquisition costs will climb; c’est la vie.
Thankfully, you’re smart. And you’re reading this newsletter, so you’re not going to let that happen, not in 2022 or in any year thereafter.
Happy New Year to all my readers, to your loved ones, and to your customers who know what good business practices look like.