Who's the Turkey - Promotions

Mark Mayberry

Years ago, I used to enjoy shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Believe it or not, the stores opened at their regular hours, and although they were packed by early afternoon, there were very few people in the stores for the first couple of hours. The holiday spirit was festive, and there were plenty of sales to make my journeys worth-while.

Let’s fast-forward to the day after Thanksgiving, 2007. The majority of the major retailers opened their stores between 4 and 6 AM. At Best Buy, you had to be in line at 3 AM to get a pass into the store when they actually opened the doors at 5 AM. I’m guessing that people lined up shortly after midnight to get their 3 AM passes. When the stores finally did open, there were stories across the U.S. about people fighting each other to get to certain items. It was total chaos.

Whether you’re in retail or not, there are lessons to be learned from this debacle. First of all, the retailers have achieved their goal. They get people in their stores very early on “Black Friday,” and they get their holiday seasons off to a fast start. However, they do this at the expense of their Customers. Even in Atlanta, it’s usually quite chilly the day after Thanksgiving, and many people stand in the bitter cold, waiting for the stores to open. Thank goodness I don’t live in Illinois, where I grew up.

I admire the retailers for finding a way to create this shopping frenzy, but I think they could make it more Customer-friendly. Their internal Customers (Their Team Members) suffer too, having to get out of bed before dawn.

Best Buy allowed me to buy the item that was at the top of my list (A Sony Blue-Ray Player) on Thanksgiving Day, and avoid fighting the lines on Black Friday. No, they did not open their stores to me on Thanksgiving – they let me buy it on-line, on Thanksgiving Day. Yes, I had to wait a few days to receive the Blue-Ray player via UPS, but I didn’t have to get in line at midnight to get my 3 AM shopping pass. I also didn’t have to fight with other Customers to grab from a limited stock of Blue-Ray players. The best part – I bought it at the same price as the early-morning shoppers received!

Best Buy also impressed me with their e-mail that followed up on my purchase. Within 24 hours, I got an e-mail that offered me special prices on several Blue-Ray movies. Here’s a company that understands the power of technology. They knew that I was excited about receiving my Blue-Ray, and that there was no better time to tempt me with sale-priced Blue-Ray discs.

Black Friday used to be lots of fun. For me, it’s become too much of a hassle. Best Buy made it easy for me – and won my shopping dollars from the competition. What’s next? I’m quite sure that we’ll see retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day, taking shoppers from their families on this special day. For me, buying on-line was a terrific Customer-friendly alternative.

The Shazzam Challenge

What can you do to get your Customers excited? I challenge you to find a way to create a buying frenzy – one that is not at the expense of your Customers.

The Shazzam Extra

After purchasing my Blue-Ray player on-line, I was very anxious for it to arrive. I had checked Best Buy’s website early on Thanksgiving Day, and found out that they could ship it out in 1-2 days. However, I didn’t buy it at that time, and when I went back on-line later that afternoon, I was told that the Blue-Ray players were on back order, and probably would not be shipped for 3-4 weeks. I still bought it.

Much to my delight, I got an e-mail on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, telling me that the player had already been shipped, and it arrived the following Tuesday. As luck would have it, I was having dinner with friends that night, and looked forward to getting home and setting the player up.

I had resisted the temptation of buying any Blue-Ray discs in Best Buy’s follow-up e-mail, and planned to stop at Blockbuster to rent a disc on my way back from dinner. I arrived at my local Blockbuster store at 11:01 PM. You probably guessed it – they closed at 11:00. There was still a Customer in the store, but the entrance door was locked.

I could not go home without trying to get a disc! Waiting until 10:00 the next morning was not going to do! So, I pried open the “exit door,” and explained the situation to Sarah, the Blockbuster clerk. Much to my delight, she let me in. When I was checking out, she said, “If I had a new Blue-Ray player, I’d have to have a disc too!” Sarah put herself in my shoes, and stayed a few minutes late to make this Customer happy. Sarah, thanks for your Shazzam!

© Mark Mayberry

Mark Mayberry is a Customer Service expert. He works with a wide variety of organizations around the world, helping organizations like yours deliver “Service With Shazzam” to your Customers.

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