Why We Need Less Marketing And More Customer Experience

Like most pet owners, I go out of my way to care for my dog.

She's a ten-year-old mutt that I've had since she was a puppy. She's a big girl, weighing just under 80 pounds. This means I make regular visits to the pet store to buy a lot of food, treats, and poop bags. I can only imagine how much I've spent over her lifetime.

There's a pet store that's just five minutes away from my house. I don't go there anymore because it offered a consistently poor experience. 

It wasn't just the customer service that was poor. It was the entire experience. Annette Franz has this handy definition of customer experience on her blog:

(a) the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with a company over the course of the relationship lifecycle and (b) the customer's feelings, emotions, and perceptions of the brand over the course of those interactions.

Someone in marketing had a new bright idea every week. They'd change the layout so frequently that each visit felt like walking through a maze. They frequently got rid of popular products because they thought they could sell a similar product under their private label for a better margin.

Now, I drive to another pet store that's fifteen minutes from my home. I literally pass the old store on my way there. The new store had a much better experience.

At least it did until Tuesday.

I went in for three items. This store usually gives you the option to get your receipt via email. I like that. It's one less piece of paper to clutter my pocket before I eventually throw it away. 

Not Tuesday. On Tuesday, the only receipt option was paper:

This monstrous receipt was for three items. It's 58.5 inches long in case you're wondering - nearly five feet tall.

Someone in marketing is responsible for this. They took away the convenient email option and replaced it with a file-clogging wad of coupons and promotions. I'm not interested in any of them. 

This isn't a customer service problem. The friendly cashier made the best of the situation when the receipt started printing and just kept going and going. We joked about it. I think she was a little embarrassed. She apologized for the hassle.

I'm sure a marketer thought this was a great idea. You can just imagine one of those creative sessions. Someone suddenly gets a devilish look in their eye and said, "What if... nah. It's too outlandish."

Someone else chimed in and said, "C'mon, Craig. We're brainstorming here! There are no bad ideas! What are you thinking?"

So Craig screwed up the courage to spit it out. "What if we gave every customer a giant receipt full of coupons? It could be like five feet long. It would be so outrageous that customers would think they were getting punked!!"

Actually, Craig, there are bad ideas.

No customer experience professional would have gone for this. One look at the awkward interaction between customer and cashier while the receipt printer spewed out coupons like a broken skee ball machine and they would have realized it was a crummy idea.

Those coupons might earn the pet store a few extra bucks. The marketers will take credit for that. It might also cost them a few customers. Whose fault will that be?