For the last 3 years or so, I have ordered holiday gifts online from Dancing Deer. My mom and I send a little something to the doctors, friends and associates who make our lives a whole lot better throughout the year.

I have also told a number of friends about the site and the (good) quality of Dancing Deer products.

Such loyalty produces frequent emails from the company, particularly around holiday time.  I take the time to look at them all.  Based on the particular promotion and the number of days ’til Christmas, the offers can differ: free shipping or 20% or 30% off your purchase, for example. From the numerous emails and codes available online, Dancing Deer has trained me to wait to for what I think will be its “best” offer.

From my previous experience, that looked like it’d be a 30% off promotion expiring on December 4. The website copy reads, “As one of our most valued customers, we invite you to participate in this exclusive private sale.” I kept track of this email in my inbox, conscious every day that it was there somewhere.  Being a natural procrastinator, I collected all of my mother’s requests on the last day of the promotion and sat at the computer for around 45 minutes selecting products and pecking in the delivery information and gift messages for eight recipients.

Just before I submitted the order, I thought I’d take a quick look at the Web to see if there were any juicier codes available.  Now, I love this game, and will sit for 30 minutes or more looking for codes for high-ticket items.  This was not that.  I spent maybe 5 minutes… and found a code good for 10% off plus free shipping which trumped the “valued customer” discount.

This, gentle readers, bummed me out (not like world hunger bums me out, but you know). I spend time with this brand throughout the year, I recommend it, I put important gifts in its hands, and for what? So they can waste my time by thanking me with a “special offer” that any consumer could easily beat with a publicly available code?

I loathed the idea of calling the company, thereby wiping out the convenience and solitude offered by the Web, but I did.  I explained my position to a representative, and asked her if, under the circumstances, she could do any better for me than a deal that was available to anyone with a pulse.  I’ve written entire posts about customer service  (so I won’t dwell on it here), but let’s just say that having a random person named Emily fail to look up my record and remark that 10% plus free shipping was “a pretty good offer” didn’t do a whole lot for how disappointed I felt.  I asked for a supervisor, who listened to my story, apologized and found me a better code (thank you, Matt A.).  The End.

In the business of marketing, a lot is written about identifying and taking care of your best customers.  I kinda hoped it would be obvious that this should include offering these shoppers actual benefits, but perhaps not.  A company that is inauthentic and careless with loyal customers is perhaps worse off than one that does nothing:  Dancing Deer raised my expectations, made me feel good for giving it my business and then kind of sucker-punched me.

That’s no way to treat gingerbread-addicted family.



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