Because the day after Thanksgiving was kind of slow last year, I decided to give an agressive offer for a select group of customers. I offered a FREE Large Pizza to all of my customers that had previously ordered online with me (about 328 of them). It was in the spirit of giving and I wanted to give a special thanks to those customers. I also figured if I could get an extra 20 customers that day, I would be happy.
Well, about 5:00, the online orders came rolling in. The offer read like this: “Get a Free Large Pizza with any purchase of $20 or more. Cannot be used for Specialty Pizzas. Toppings extra. Must be ordered online using coupon code BLACKFRIDAY”.
We got a bunch of redemptions and everything seemed fine, until we got to my last one. The last guy, instead of entering in the coupon code, added a comment “Use the Black Friday discount towards my purchase.” He ordered an XL Specialty Pizza with two additional toppings (total $27.45). My cashier, put his order in and just added a Large Cheese Pizza to his order (no charge) thinking that was what he meant by his comment.
I get a call from my delivery driver saying that the customer did not get his discount. I looked and saw we discounted the entire cheese pizza. I called the customer to let him know that we did this. He responds, “I wanted you to deduct the price of the large cheese pizza from my total; not add a free cheese pizza.” I politely let him know that the coupon specifically said that it could not be used towards a specialty pizza. He says fine and hangs up.
About 15 minutes later, I get a call from this customer. He tells me that he no longer wants to do business with me because I don’t bend the rules for good customers. I’m dumbfounded. I tell him I’m sorry, but explain to him why I put these guidelines in place. He tells me that we should have recognized that he was a regular and bent the rules anyways.
Afterwards, I looked and it was true. He is one of my better customers; #12 in the last 6 months (spending almost $400 since July).
That night, I wrote him a letter telling him that I appreciate his feedback and was sorry for the confusion. At the end, I included a $12 gift card and told him that there were no strings attached to this offer. Yes, I gave in because I don’t want to lose him as a customer.
But to be totally honest, part of me wanted to call his bluff. While I was writing the letter, I was thinking to myself… where’s the appreciation from the customer for giving him a free large pizza. Would this have even been an issue if I didn’t give him such a great offer? Sometimes I think some people are so self-absorbed that they don’t see the good side to anything.
I know we operators encounter these types of incidents all the time. Would you have handled it differently?