3 Ways to Keep Daily Deal Sites from Becoming Customer Turnoffs

May 23, 2013

As a rule, I am not a fan of daily deal sites. For many businesses, the economics of daily deals do not work and many of the later hoped-for benefits do not materialize. This is not to say that these deals are always a bad move, but there is a reason these deal sites have dramatically decreased in popularity since they burst on the scene as the next big thing.

3 Ways to Keep Daily Deal Sites from Becoming Customer Turn OffsThat being said, deal sites can work if done properly. Creating a successful offering for your business is a topic worthy of its own post; in this post, I would like to discuss one of the least focused on aspects of using daily deal sites — creating a remarkable customer experience for those who respond to deals.

Our very own Donna Gurnic had an experience with a daily deal site recently that demonstrates what can happen when a business does not focus on the customer experience. Here is the story in Donna’s own words:

I received a daily deal coupon as a gift that allowed four or more people to spend $80 at a local wine bar and bistro. The coupon was purchased for $40 and the fine print explained that at least one food item must be purchased, that the promotional value ($80) had an expiration date, and that the actual value ($40) never expired. Oh, and something about adhering to the terms and conditions.

Since my dining partner and I couldn’t wrangle two more people to join us before it expired, we figured we would just use the coupon ourselves, assuming we could still spend the $40 that was already paid as actual value. So, we enjoyed a delicious meal and good service. However, when I handed the coupon to our server, she told us that we were unable to use it because we were two folks shy.

At first we asked if we could just use the actual value of $40 (because it did not expire). The server said we could not. Trying to compromise, we asked if the restaurant could simply apply $20 of the $40 to our bill, since we had 2 out of 4 people there. She declined again, and I was shocked that she wouldn’t even consider another option to make the situation better.

We then spoke to the manager. We accepted responsibility for not following the exact terms of the deal but still thought the restaurant could make some accommodation for us. We were not asking for the world or even to honor the offer, just to use part of the money paid for the coupon towards our bill.

The manager was entirely focused on enforcing the terms and not on working with us. She told me that I could either come back with four people or that I could call the daily deal company.

If I do reluctantly return with the required 4 people, it will probably be the last time I visit.

Here are three ways you can make sure that your daily deal customers have a great customer experience.

1. Pick an Offer That You Can Deliver On

One of the challenges many businesses face is the huge rush of business a daily deal site can produce in a short window of time. If you do not have the capacity to service the increase in business, you can set yourself up for bad customer experiences.

Daily deal sites are usually beneficial if you can upsell customers and acquire new repeat customers. Your offer needs to be one that is carefully constructed to be as profitable and serviceable as possible.

2. Decide the Real Rules

You should decide in advance what you are willing to do for customers that do not read the fine print. Some will come in after the expiration or, as in Donna’s story, without the minimum number of people. Prepare for the most common issues ahead of time. Strictly adhering to the rules you set might not be the best policy.

Remember, daily deals are a loss leader and a marketing expense. Decide when you will honor the deal outside of the terms or decide on something you can give customers when you decline to honor the deal.

3. Train and Empower Your Staff

Once you have decided on some ways to approach the most likely challenges regarding capacity and customers who are outside of the terms of the offer, empower your staff to deliver those solutions on the spot.

Sure, you cannot think of everything ahead of time, and additionally, deal sites attract a higher percentage of customers who will “squeeze you” — but have your staff trained and ready to focus on the customer experience and not to focus on enforcing the rules.

Give your team the leeway to make someone happy on the spot.


If you feel compelled to create an offer for a daily deal site, it is important to frame the offer for you and your staff in the correct light. A daily deal is a marketing expense. If it gets new customers in your door, the deal has performed its job.

After that, it’s up to you and your team to create a customer experience that helps turn deal seekers into full-price repeat customers. The above three guidelines can help make that happen.

3 thoughts on “3 Ways to Keep Daily Deal Sites from Becoming Customer Turnoffs”

  1. You know, from a biz perspective the deals are a huge risk. From my personal, money-saving experience, I like every deal I’ve gotten. Probably chalk that up to luck, and doing my homework before I buy to make sure the place gets decent reviews, that I understand the fine print.

    This is such a good example. I get the business behind the deal – this place wanted exposure to 4 potential new customers, increasing their odds of landing a repeater; that’s what they think make this discount worth it to them. But I agree w/ you – if time was running out, they should have either offered to honor the deal even past expiration the next time they had 4; or split the difference for these 2 instead when they saw it was becoming an ‘issue.’ As much as good food/service, that level of customer focus may be even more valuable in earning someone’s repeat – and full price – business. FWIW.

    1. Davina, you make a great point that customer focus can be more valuable for a business in the long run. Good food and good service are certainly the backbone for any restaurant, and being able to positively resolve a customer issue can be crucial for building a long-term customer relationship.

      Needless to say, I will paying more attention to the fine print in the future! Thanks for commenting!

    2. Missed this comment somehow…

      You know, the deals can often be good for consumers Davian. They are usually very attractive economically, which, of course, is why they are often a bad bet for businesses. That being said, it’s good you’ve had positive experiences, because as Donna’s story shows, they can go bad pretty easily if the business is not customer minded.

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