It Worked, Then Failed – Anatomy of an Email Marketing Campaign

Posted by Scott Cohen On July 3, 2010 in story time I 0 Comments

I received an email marketing message from a local restaurant that my wife and I go to on a regular basis. We visit enough that the owner and wait-staff know us by name. So the email message touted “Crawfish are Here” save $1.00 a pound, now only $4.99.
Cool, we love crawfish and this restaurant knows how to make them. My wife was having back problems at the time so I called in for 6lbs to go. The girl on the phone took my order and off I went to pick-up some sweet crawfish.
When I got there I was told they were unable to fill my order because they were not filling any to-go orders as they didn’t want to run-out of crawfish for the eat-in customers. I was dumbfounded. I said but you took my order and I drove the twenty minutes to get them and now you tell me this! Her answer: I’m sorry but you’ll have to eat them here if you want them.
No Crawfish for You!
I then asked for the owner whom I know and he basically repeats the same answer. So I asked, what is your rationale for making this decision? He said he makes more money on an in-restaurant order than a to-go order because of drink and dessert add-ons. Again dumbfounded I say, have you ever seen me or my wife order dessert or drinks other than maybe Ice tea or water? (Neither my wife or I drink alcohol and don’t order dessert). He said no, he’s actually has noticed that we don’t.
I then pointed out a sign above the window to the kitchen that says: Customer Mantra – The answer is always YES! He said “well not today”. Now keep in mind my wife and I eat at this restaurant at least 3-4 times a month with an average bill of about $40-$50 dollars. We also invite friends there and have dropped $150-$200 many times. In a year we spend about $2,500 there.
Or should I say ‘we used to’.
We haven’t been there since and doubt that we will ever go back. It’s too bad really, the problem could have been easily avoided by just saying, “Oh you’re a regular customer so we’ll make an exception” or “I’m sorry your order was taken and the staff was uninformed so I’ll go ahead and fill your order”. An even better remedy would have been a mention of “Eat-in Only” in the email marketing message. That would have avoided the whole situation.
So we’ve found another restaurant that sells crawfish and to my amazement do a great job. I actually told the owner of the new restaurant the story and he just looked on in disbelief. He then gave me a 50% discount and said, you’re always welcome here whether you stay or take-out. Now there’s an owner who knows and gets the idea of real customer service.
How to avoid this kind of problem:
  • When offering a “special deal” make sure any “rules or conditions” are included in your message.
  • Make sure all customer facing staff are informed of all discounts and roles or conditions.
  • If you or your staff makes a mistake with a customer, Make It Right!
  • If your company mantra is “The Customer is Always Right” then practice what you preach.
When your email marketing works and brings people to your business, real or virtual, remember the relationship they have with you or are starting with you and nurture it. Don’t send them home empty-handed. Treat all customers with same service you would expect to receive if you were doing the buying.
If you’re in the Dallas area and want great crawfish (in-season) drop me an email. I now a great place to get them, as well as a place I wouldn’t recommend anymore.
Cheers, Chris
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