Tag Archives: shopping

Is your black Friday CX embarrassing the other 364 days?

So, we’ve accepted black Friday is actually a 3-7 day sale, with retailers telling us on their promotions exactly how many days a day lasts in their world. Some managing to bend a 24 time frame seven fold. So, it’s not a good start, we have a sale, that starts with a lie. At least it’s now poor cousin, the January Sale, had a bit more integrity in it’s non-defined description.

Also, what does it say when the BBC lead with an item on Black Friday from the advertising watchdog saying beware! Warning on ‘misleading’ Black Friday deals. 

Image result for black friday madness 2018

Source: KnowTechie

There are a host of examples where customers have been disappointed by the quality of the sale:

  • Pressurised into tracking countdown sale clocks
  • Pre-saving and paying for items which disappear from stock on the day
  • Ads promising sales for them to not materialise on the day
  • Fake online review (which can be bought as well)
  • Hourly price changes
  • Fake sites (copy brand ID of genuine sites but payments page changes)

Let’s step back for a second. Many organisations talk about ‘putting customer first’ and invest in continuously improving the quality of the experience. After all, CX is a significant contributor (more than price) for customers choosing one brand over another.

However, when it comes to Black Friday it’s as if it becomes ‘all bets are off’, with compromises experienced by customers as overwhelmed companies struggle to maintain a ‘sales with the service’ standard.

As any behavioural psychologist would explain better than me, when we are caught in the moment we do not always emotionally process our actions which clouds our decision making. But afterwards, when we look back we assess more clearly what we traded for that gain. And sometimes we don’t like our decision or even recognise the version of ourselves that made those decisions. We feel cheated and we feel cheap. We don’t feel that great about ourselves when that’s the outcome. We remember how that felt to ensure we can avoid it in the future.

We can’t ‘feel’ a discount. It was a contributing factor to a decision but it’s not an emotion. But we can ask, ‘how did that purchase experience make me feel’? And we will remember.

If the answer is that the experience was less than great due to misleading sales info, a lack of or a poor response from an over capacity customer service, the expectation by the company for us to exchange lots of contact details for future promotions getting in the way of the purchase, distracting up-sell techniques or a problem with payments going through (to name a few), then we start to challenge our decision. And with so many options, we may even decide that the retailer is not for us. This may be an unfair representation of their normal customer experience. if we caught the retailer when they were stretched. But that’s the gamble they take when you compromise CX on Black Friday.

If the retailer sacrifices CX for sales at this time, they have to accept that’s exactly how the customer will see them in the future; a company you can get a bargain from if you don’t care how they treat you. So, when the black Friday fog has passed, the customer will look elsewhere.

To me, and the 50% of others according to PwC, the potential of a bargain isn’t worth the  risk of an impaired experience and destroying confidence and trust in brands who have worked hard to win a place in my heart over the rest of the year.

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It’s not just customers who step out of the rush, retailers chose to as well.

So, will there be winners on the day? Of course. There will be those consumers who get the item they always wanted cheaper, there will be those who get a few extra items they’d normally ignore at a better price and there will be retailers who shift stock they haven’t done until now.

But the real winners are customers who experience a quality purchase experience. And those retailers who prioritise customer experience over a sale, even on Black Friday (well done – you know who you are). Because come the consumption hangover, we will then chose which relationships we value, and it wont be decided on the transaction alone.

Posted by

Christopher Brooks, Lexden, The Customer Experience Practice.

Black Friday; a confusing customer experience

Bar humbug – the cost of Black Friday on sustainable profit from customer experience.

So Black Friday 2 came and went without YouTube videos of bun fights over discounted flat screens or Asda and Tesco staff fearing for their safety as iron boards are wrestled over. As it passed relatively unnoticed, I wondered who actually benefits from this rather distasteful annual event?

Black Friday03

Do the increased short term blip of sales stack up against longer term brand reputation impact for instance? The British Retail Consortium reported a drop of 0.4% sales on 2014 so it’s not delivering on sales it would seem. For many shoppers, stores didn’t drop prices as low as had been apparently expected. Online sales did go up. Is this because the fear of having to confront a hardened Black Friday’ bargain hunter type has put the rest of us off the high street. A sort of retail ‘no go zone’. Instead we, and perhaps even the bargain hunters have retreated to the safety of the online bargain battle zone where physical confrontation has been replaced by clicking frenzied spells?

The worry is, will these shoppers now stay away more often citing Black Friday bruising’s as a reason to abandon the high street more often, or altogether? Will this be an unintended consequence for retailers perhaps? These being the very same environments where the majority of the magic of their customer experience comes alive the rest of the year.

I passed a series of Black Friday shop window displays, in a cab. The cabbie said to me, they should call it ‘because we rip you off the rest of the year sale’. He felt if prices were that cheap and they made a profit, retailers were taking customers for a proverbial ride. Has consumer confidence, trust and appeal for some been damaged a deal too far? According to a research poll of one in that taxi, the answer was yes! I only hope the ‘quick BF buck’ was worth it considering the long term relationship damage it could cause.

Does Black Friday destroys long-term brand equity?

I’m quite a conventional shopper when it comes to Christmas with most of it completed in December in a few favoured stores, notably M&S and John Lewis. Often I take in the hussle and bustle of Oxford Street as part of my Christmas shopping experience.

I find Black Friday a fuss too early and a risk of probable compromise on the customer experience I’ve grown to value from my trusted stores. I value them for service not sales, but fear if they have decided to prioritise sales over service by participating in Black Friday my experience will be diminished.Black Friday01

Here’s an example of what I mean.  2015 campaign Black Friday signage was sprayed across our local M&S turning its facia in to something which resembled a looted shop! When is that ever going to be a good look? Where did the inspiration come from for that window dressing – the Croydon riots! That’s a connection I never thought I’d make with M&S – but it’s what Black Friday does to us conventional consumers.

As I write this I realise I haven’t been to either of these stores for my Christmas shopping as much as I have in previous years. Their engagement has potentially impacted my consideration. So the successful brand investment made over several years to gain my loyalty has been unpicked. I believe Black Friday has damaged my preference for these and other retailers who think it’s okay to cheapen themselves at this time and expect me to forgive them. I’m sure I will get past it, but I wont forget.

Black Friday is a ‘promotional platform’ which retailers interpret to suit their own performance strategies, like January sales only grubbier. It’s certainly not the kick-start to Christmas some report it as. It also can’t be owned – unlike the brand reputation and customer experience brands who normally avoid ‘sales sensations’ avoid (which I personally value much more). Hopefully JLP and M&S to place their marketing budget next November.

Mad Bad Friday

There are also some interesting/odd takes on the BF promotion – The 99p Store use it to sell products which cost a few pound more and Starbucks confusingly combining BF with BOGOF.

Also whilst Friday has always been a day long in my mind, M&S has extended the time paradigm to a weekend whilst Dorothy Perkins managed a week long Friday!

I’m sure these promotions are not aimed at me, so I should pipe down, but it certainly has made me think twice about something I previously certain of – my preferred retailers.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Consultant, Lexden

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