Once you’ve released a “daily deal” through a site like Groupon or Living Social, your focus needs to shift immediately from marketing to managing the surge in website traffic and stepping up online customer service. A Cornell University study shows that Yelp reviewers who mentioned “Groupons” and “coupons” gave the sponsoring companies “strikingly lower rating scores” than those who did not participate in an online promotion. Although how much a lowered Yelp rating impacts business is generally unknown, the study cites restaurant-industry findings that “a one-star increase in [an establishment’s] Yelp rating leads to a 9 percent increase in revenue.”
Here are three tips for protecting your brand — and retaining new business — on the heels of an online offer.
- Encourage feedback. Trust and communication are hallmarks of customer loyalty and engagement. Although you want to please as many customers as you can, you can’t be all things to all people. Recognize and accept that deal seekers are a price-sensitive group who may never see the value in your offering at full price. Encourage all customers to provide a review of their experience with your business — even if it’s not a good one. The occasional negative review can actually boost your company’s credibility by demonstrating that the comments are independent and uncensored. When positive feedback outweighs the negative, customers will often weigh both sides of the argument and make their own decisions.
- Learn from your “mistakes.” Treat negative reviews like performance appraisals: They provide you with opportunities to improve. If a customer has a valid gripe, thank them for bringing the matter to your attention — and explain how you’ll use their feedback to improve the customer experience. For example, if the online offer caused space constraints in your fitness class or led to sold-out product inventory, work to overcome the issue before your competitors and make the improvements known.
- Value your fans. The Cornell study also found an increase in a company’s Facebook “Likes” after users purchased a daily deal. As Facebook and other social networks have clearly demonstrated, people consult their peers when making buying decisions. Use your new fan base to your advantage, but never assume you’ve completely won them over. A study by DDB Worldwide shows that nearly 60 percent of Facebook users will share “liked” content from a company they support with their friends. However, 46 percent will unsubscribe from a brand’s page if the information posted is uninteresting or overwhelming (too frequent). Focus on building the value and depth of your community over time, because your fans will help mitigate the impact of negative customer feedback that comes your way.