“Planning a Groupon Deal? Be Prepared to Please.” This was the title of a recent article in the American Express OPEN Small Business Forum. The premise of the article is that businesses that offer Groupon deals need to be sure that every Groupon customer has a great first experience when they utilize the voucher or the business won’t be able to capitalize on the potential new customer in the future.

Hazard sign

Don’t let bad customer service turn your business on its head!

The article caught my eye because I’ve had my share of terrible Groupon experiences. The one that primarily comes to mind was for a manicure/pedicure package at a new salon. I bought the package because I had a vacation coming up (an escape to the Caribbean with fellow Michigan State young alumni), and the salon that I normally would have gone to for a manicure had closed. The Groupon that was offered was for a salon that was just preparing for its grand opening, so I thought I would give it a chance. Much to my dismay, they weren’t ready for me when I arrived. When I was finally seated for my appointment, things started out okay. The staff was courteous and the manicure was fine. Then the staff member filled the foot bath and left while my polish dried. After she disappeared I noticed that the brand new pedicure stations apparently weren’t installed properly and water was leaking out. Within minutes the shop’s floor was flooded; my purse, wallet and cell phone were soaked in the process; and my manicure was marred in the chaos of having to help the shop haul things out of the way of the jets of water.

Needless to say, I haven’t been back.

I certainly agree with the idea that businesses need to be prepared to please customers when offering a Groupon deal. This is an opportunity to earn new repeat business with individuals that are just being introduced to your organization.

But I would argue that the author of the article needs to extend his argument. All businesses need to ensure that not only Groupon customers have a good first experience, but ALL customers. Business need to ensure that not only first-time customers have a good experience, but ALL customers. I realize that this is not practical in some circumstances. Things will inevitably go wrong, and you can’t please everyone. But you can AIM to please everyone. Equip your staff with the ability to make things right (whether through a discount offer or some other recompense) when things do go wrong. Reward your staff for exceptional customer service. Have a plan and a set of procedures so staff know how to react when things go wrong – don’t leave them standing, shaking their head as water comes pouring out of the wall in your salon.

Businesses, even those that are not service-based, are still selling their customer service. Make it quality service!



Photo: Flickr user Alaskan Dude