Thursday, August 4, 2011

Two ways you can really annoy customers, like me

It’s amazing what businesses and organizations do to annoy customers even as they try to appear being helpful.

Here are two that I experienced this week.

Create an unsubscribe labyrinth

I frequently sign up to receive emails from businesses and organizations that, initially, seem like they might be interesting.

Frequently, after getting a few emails, I decide they really aren’t that useful or interesting after all, and choose to unsubscribe.

While subscribing may have involved simply typing in my email address, getting off some lists can sometimes be a real challenge.

I encountered a whole page of options when trying to unsubscribe from one sender.

The page was very graphic, cute, wordy, and completely unclear. It wasn’t straightforward where I needed to click, and none of the options stated simply “unsubscribe.”

The goal of this, and similar pages, is to not to facilitate unsubscribing, but rather to be so annoying that you just say, “Forget it! I’ll just keep deleting your stupid messages!”

Being driven to frustration does not endear me, or any customer, to the offending business.

But if your goal is to really annoy your customers or constituents, create a pretty and obfuscated unsubscribe page.

Offer pointless coupons

Some of the emails I receive offer coupons promising great savings. These are nice to get when they’re truly a good deal.

I’m going to miss my 40% off coupons from Borders that were good on just about any single item in the store. Frankly, I’m going to miss Borders, period!

But what I’ll never miss are coupons that come with a ridiculous purchasing threshold before I can use them. For example, like the one I got this week that promised $20 off – a $150 purchase. Or $30 off – a $200 purchase.

If I were going to spend those amounts, the discounts would be nice. But what if I need the specific item that the coupon is for, but not $150 or $200 worth? In this case, I’m just annoyed.

I loved the Borders coupons because I could use them to get any book or any CD or any one of several other items. I had a choice.

With the coupon I received this week from another business, it’s for a specific item – something I can use – but I don’t need nor can I afford to spend $150 to get $20 off.

Another kicker is that it’s only good for a week. If the coupon were good for, say 60 – 90 days, then maybe I could plan on a larger purchase later to take advantage of the discount.

If this coupon had been targeted to a company rather than individuals, then it might make more sense. But, for me, not so much.

So if your goal is to really annoy your customers or constituents, create an offer with a short validity span and a high usability threshold.

Or, instead….

On the other hand, if you truly want to satisfy your customers or constituents, make unsubscribing to emails easier than it was to subscribe (only one or two clicks), and create offers that you would die for.

Just sayin’.


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