Have you ever experienced dread while redeeming a coupon?
You know the moment. You hand your coupon over to the server or cashier, and their eyebrows furrow in a moment of apprehension as they stare at the coupon.
“Please don’t call over a manager please don’t call over a manager,” you silently plead.
Then the cashier confidently types in a code, and the coupon is mercifully applied without friction.
But when the cashier is confused? That’s the worst.
You can just feel the eyes of the others in line behind you burning into the back of your head while the cashier waits for the manager to come over (a process that always feels like hours).
With over 90% of the population using coupons, odds are good that each of us has encountered an issue when trying to redeem one. In some cases this happens due to an expired or poorly-executed third-party coupon, or some section of fine print we've overlooked.
Many times, however, it’s due to an overly complicated redemption process that the cashier hasn't been trained for.
Regardless of how or why it happens, one thing can't be argued: a complicated coupon redemption process detracts from the customer experience in a major way.
With coupon content becoming available through more and more technological channels, there’s a glaring need for streamlined, standardized redemption processes.
What’s at risk? Just customer relationships, only the lifeblood of any successful business.
Let’s Not Complicate This with (Extra) Words
If a customer is using a coupon, there’s a good chance they’re trying a business or product for the first time.
Like a first date, this is an opportunity for a business to gain a loyal customer.
Every part of the experience needs to be great, and few things can ruin the experience more quickly than a disruption at the point of sale.
One button on the register. One simple code. Businesses should be looking to make things as simple as possible for customers to redeem that coupon.
We’re marketers too, so we understand the need for tracking and measurability of a coupon’s success, and how that sometimes necessitates more than simply “show the cashier” redemption instructions. But the primary focus should be on the customer experience.
That means doing whatever it takes to NOT require a manager to scrutinize every coupon. Keep it simple.
If a complicated process is required, then it’s in the merchant’s best interests to invest the time to make sure cashiers know the process.
On the first day of the campaign, managers should be in the cashier area to answer questions as they arise – not across the store or in the back.
Look to the Future
Print coupons remain extremely popular, but we’re going to have over a billion consumers utilizing mobile coupons within a couple years. Coupons aren’t going away.
In fact, they’re going to get more complicated.
Google Glass, wearable coupons on smart watches, geocommerce, NFC-enabled instant offers, and more aren’t just on the horizon, they’re in many retail locations across the world today.
Coupons need to be channel agnostic, and the redemption process needs to feel the same to the consumer, whether they handed over a printed coupon or smartphone or a retinal scan (hey, it’s a possibility).
If a complicated process is required, then put in the work with the people on the front line to ensure they “get it.”
Otherwise, using redemption codes and bar codes will still allow marketers to get the data they need to judge a coupon’s success. More importantly, the customer experience will be protected, now and in the future.
All processes must enhance the customer experience. No more furrowed brows or calls to the manager. Just great experiences and customers coming back again and again.
(Coupon image courtesy of Tomasz Stasiuk)