Ask Ian: Discount Sales – Classy or Kitsch?

November 30, 20184min

Customer Experience specialist Ian Golding, author of Customer What: The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience, writes for Customer Experience Magazine, offering his expert insight to help businesses improve their CX offering. 

To ask Ian a question on how to boost the Customer Experience provided by YOUR business, please email your question to The best questions will be featured in future instalments.

Ian also leads the CX Professional Masterclass. Click here for details of upcoming Masterclass dates.

Can competitions, sales, and special offers be used to improve Customer Experience, without coming across as ‘desperate’? Can these methods be used to provide a ‘classy’ Customer Experience?

This is an interesting question. The answer depends on a number of factors, including what the competition or special offer actually is; if there are any associated ‘conditions’ or ‘catches’; when the competition or special offer is presented to the customer; and the environmental culture.

On the last point, environmental culture, it is important to note that in many parts of the world, such as the US, competitions and special offers are part of the expected shopping experience – shoppers want a bargain. The better the bargain, the happier the customer!

The emergence of Black Friday as a global retail phenomenon brings this topic to life perfectly. Invented in the US, most retailers have integrated a day of manic ‘discount’ shopping into their annual calendar – followed up by Cyber Monday.

From a customer perspective, if these ‘special’ days result in access to desired products at a lower price, then it is without doubt an enhancement to the Customer Experience.

Does it come across as desperate? No – yet the reality is that not participating in large scale discounting events like Black Friday could prove to be financially damaging to retailers!

At the end of the day, anything that can create and maintain engagement with potential and existing customers is critical – competitions and offers are additional touchpoints in the customer journey. As long as they are designed and delivered in a way that improves customer perception and as a result, commercial performance, then an organisation has absolutely nothing to lose. Creating excitement and interest in a brand is not desperate – it is an essential element of marketing communication.

The caveat to this though, is that if the competition or offer is not created, designed and delivered with the customer’s needs and wants in mind, then the effect is very likely to be negative. Customers do not like to be hoodwinked or lied to – discovering that the competition was not genuine, or the offer was not actually a good one, is very likely to end in tears – not just by losing the customer, but by potentially being vilified on social media and losing thousands more.

Ian Golding

Ian Golding

A highly influential freelance Customer Experience consultant, Ian advises leading companies on Customer Experience strategy, measurement, improvement and employee advocacy techniques and solutions. He has worked across multiple industries including retail, financial services, logistics, telecoms and pharmaceuticals and has deployed Customer Experience tools and methodologies all over the world. Ian is an internationally renowned speaker and blogger on the subject of customer experience who served on the inaugural board of Directors of the CXPA (Customer Experience Professionals Association). In 2014, Ian officially became a Certified Customer Experience Professional, currently being on the UK Board of Ambassadors for the CXPA. Ian is also a regular judge at the UK Customere Experience Awards

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