Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Black Friday vs. the CX Journey

Aaah, Black Friday… the day (or day and a half, whatever it's turned into now) when shoppers attack each other to buy toys and electronics at bargain basement prices (or, are they?), and retailers smile from ear to ear as they get back in "the black."

Unfortunately, Black Friday is really a brand/customer experience nightmare. And it’s a nightmare for those of us in the #CX industry who preach that companies need to be more customer-focused.  By pure definition, Black Friday is NOT about the customer at all but about the company – about getting their bottom line back on the positive side.

Is there really an opportunity to develop relationships with your customers on Black Friday?
I probably don’t need to answer this question.  This one’s a clear case of “a picture is worth a thousand words”…  well, or just one… NO.


But, having said that, there is the opportunity to delight... always! I'm wondering if any of the customers in the picture above were delighted.

Are these customers the type of people you want to develop relationships with?
OK, it’s time to pull out the Apostle Model quadrant chart.  If you’re not familiar with the Apostle Model, which was developed by Thomas Jones and Earl Sasser from the Harvard Business School, I'll give you a quick overview and will save the details for a future post. The Apostle Model is a different way (as opposed to NPS) to segment your customers for the purpose of understanding loyalty and driving customer-centricity in the organization. This model uses two questions (overall satisfaction and likelihood to repurchase) instead of one to create the segments. The graphic below gives you a quick look at the segments and how they are defined.

Black Friday always reminds me of the Apostle Model; the people who are shopping these crazy sales are classic examples of “mercenaries.” Mercenaries, as shown in the lower right-hand quadrant above, are defined as customers with high satisfaction and low loyalty.  They are in your store because they are driven by price. On Black Friday, they achieve at least short-term high satisfaction because they bought something they want/need at a reduced price; however, they are not committed to your company, hence not likely to purchase again. (See one my previous post's here – I’m definitely considered a “mercenary” in this case, although I'm only satisfied because I got a great price.)

Mercenaries are not customers for life.  You have not created a relationship with them. You have not connected with them. They have not connected with you.

(O sure, there are exceptions… but for argument’s sake, let’s just go with it.)

What sort of example have you set for your customers about your brand experience?
Simply put, the Black Friday experience sends the wrong message about your brand.  Does it say anywhere in your brand promise that you’ll make sure that, once a year, customers can kill each other over doorbusters? The brand experience needs to be a consistent one. All year long. 

Don't get me wrong; I’m all for saving money. But we have to remember that, for retailers, Black Friday is about this moment. It’s all about bringing in the money today. It’s not about the customer. It’s about competing for customers’ dollars.

Unfortunately, it also blackens the door to the Christmas season.  

>> I know that this post doesn't apply to all retailers, but it's the few that create that image in our minds of what Black Friday is really about. I'd love to hear about any retailers you thought actually stayed true to their brands and provided an awesome experience on Black Friday.


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