CSP Magazine

Delighting Consumers With Every Transaction

On Cyber Monday, I wanted to contribute to what would be a record $3.45 billion in online sales in a 24-hour period.

I received a promotion from a professional sports franchise in big, bold print: 30% OFF ALL (team name) TICKETS. Just underneath, the promo repeated: “Until the end of Cyber Monday, get 30% off all (team name) home game tickets for the rest of the 2016-17 season!”

Easy enough? Hardly. Here is my first tale.

Monday, Nov. 28: I clicked on the link provided in the email, which sent me to the website of the national ticket-processing agent. I pasted the discount code into the promo box and proceeded with the transaction.

As I continued, I noticed I wasn’t seeing the discount as I clicked and reserved seats. I nevertheless proceeded to the end, figuring (or hoping) that the savings would be reflected in the final transaction. I was wrong.

Tuesday, Nov. 29: I called the sports team’s ticket office and explained the situation.

A young man was polite and apologetic but said I needed to call the processing company that handles all orders. I did. I then sent an email to customer service; I received a response saying that the deal was consummated and that unfortunately the company could not retroactively apply the discount. Also, the email said the tickets did not qualify for a refund.

My options were to keep the tickets at full price or to resell them, which I could do on the processor’s website. Considering these tickets were a birthday present, the latter was not an option.

I called the processor’s headquarters. I got someone from customer service, explained the situation and cited the email.

“We understand your point and we apologize for your inconvenience, but that promotion is only for a limited number of discounts,” the associate said. He agreed the promotion was misleading, but that was the fault of the sports franchise. As far as the ticket processor was concerned, the deal was done and there was no refund available.

Wednesday, Nov. 30: I again contacted the sports team’s ticket office. A new associate took the call, and I told him what I’d been through in the past 48 hours.

This time, I asked for his email so we could look at the promo together.

The person reluctantly acknowledged the promo “may” have been misleading but said a sports team reserves the right without notice to withdraw a promotion.

“I’m sorry,” I said, beginning to lose my politeness. “The promo was misleading. And if we don’t fix this, I’m prepared to go to the state’s bureau of fraud protection and file a claim.”

Well, that helped. The associate said there was no need for such drastic action, that we both shared the same goal: to resolve this matter to everyone’s satisfaction.

Are you feeling the holiday cheer in this conversation?

Two hours later: The customer agent at the sports team called back. He chuckled and said his supervisor had pulled up my entire transaction. The processing company, he said, was wrong—that the tickets did qualify for the discount and that I should have a 72-hour window in which to seek a refund if I wanted.

So I was awarded the 30% discount. Was that the end of it? No. There’s more.

Later that same day: I went to my local Staples to pick up office supplies. The store had a major rebate on copy paper. Upon the transaction, the store associate showed me the rebate tracking number and told me how to claim the rebate online.

I went home and in less than 5 minutes, the application was complete and I received a confirmation saying, “Congratulations. You’ve submitted your rebate successfully!”

So I had two transactions involving discounts: one a disaster, the other a breeze.

Our industry has embraced loyalty cards and mobile apps and regularly offers promotions that require customers to take steps to earn their rewards, whether it be savings or giveaways. But are your methods working?

Are your promotions clearly stated and easy to actualize? Are you working together with your processing agent to ensure what you promote is delivered as promised?

Over the holiday season, I read a great book, “The Amazon Way,” by former Amazon exec John Rossman. He writes about the 14 principles that drive the retailing world’s most disruptive company.

The first principle, in my opinion, is the most important: Obsess over the customer.

I like what Rossman writes: “The best customer service is no customer service—because the best experience happens when the customer never has to ask for help at all.”

I wish you a healthy, prosperous 2017. And may it be a year in which we obsess over customers and delight in their every transaction.


Mitch Morrison is vice president and director of Winsight’s Retail Executive Platform. Reach him at mmorrison@winsightmedia.com.

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