Social buying coupons have got consumers in a shopping frenzy this Christmas. Companies offer amazing discounts through social buying sites for their goods or services if a certain number of coupons or deals are purchased. At first glance social buying coupons seem like an effective way for local customers to get a great discount on gift certificates and products, and get their Christmas shopping done on budget this year. It also seems like a great way for small businesses to increase their sales. But do social buying coupons do what is intended? Sure the steep discounts attract a large numbers of new patrons initially, but do they create repeat and loyal customers? A recent article on the CBC website suggests they do not.
I’ve purchased several e-coupons through social buying sites such as Groupon, Living Social and Deal Find. The more deals I purchased the less impressed I became. My top complaint is the poor customer service I received, others include:
- Long wait times for service (e.g. I waited 2 months to get an appointment at the salon because stylists didn’t want to work on “coupon customers”)
- Could not communicate with service men that did not speak English (e.g. the receipt was even in a different language!)
- Added fees when service men arrived (e.g. one totaled over $100 in extra fees for them to complete the job)
- Can I meet the demands if I sell a significant number of coupons?
- Can I provide the service and quality I’m known for if I sell a significant number of coupons at a very low price?
- How will I handle complaints?
- Can I afford to offer my services at a significantly low price or for free?
- Will it attract the type of loyal customers I’m looking for?
- What specifically can I do to turn them into loyal full-paying customers?
- How will I ensure that coupon customers are treated like real customers by all staff?
Miranda Vande Kuyt is a self-employed project and communications consultant. She is the facilitator of the "Look Before You Leap: Self-Employment Survival Strategies" online course through www.lifestrategies.ca.