Our guest blogger today is Marshall Lager
from Third Idea Consulting LLC. We have invited Marshall to blog over the next couple of months in the journal from his
own perspective on CRM, Sage products, and customer experience. You can read more about Marshall, his experience and who and what his is not in his introductory blog.
I hope you’ve all had a good couple of weeks since Sage Summit. This was the first week back in my home and office since starting my guest blog for Sage just beforehand, and already it’s after Thanksgiving. That means we’ve just been through Black Friday and you’re likely reading this on its younger sibling Cyber Monday.
I’ve always been confused by Black Friday; so much importance is placed on one day that it could be its own holiday. Apparently, Black Friday is the Groundhog Day of retail, as one can predict the success or failure of the holiday shopping season by looking at the results. Retailers sweeten the pot by launching progressively larger discounts and special promotions that day, after teasing us with Christmas advertising starting sometime in mid-September.
I don’t see how it works. Sane individuals should avoid Black Friday like the Black Plague. Named after the chaos surrounding the U.S. stock market crash in 1929, Black Friday references the current shopping day’s murderously hectic pace and impossible crowds. Between that and the post-Thanksgiving food hangover, I don’t want to be within three miles of a shopping mall. Most years, I don’t even leave my home.
In terms of customer experience, Black Friday should be the disaster it sounds like, but shoppers keep on showing up and the lines grow ever longer. Maybe there’s something about walking into a retail war zone that stimulates our primitive hunter-gatherer instincts (hunting for deals and gathering merchandise). Or maybe it’s that the experience of fighting through crowds is what we’ve come to expect—it’s not a bad experience if it’s the one you’re planning on. An easy shopping day might be unsatisfying for such people.
Which brings us to Cyber Monday, the e-commerce equivalent to Black Friday. Unlike Black Friday, though, Cyber Monday is mostly fictional. (Economists will disagree with me, but I can handle that.) There are reasons to shop early if you’re doing it in person, because it’s hard to predict how and when shops will restock. (There might also be some gamesmanship in betting more shoppers will be like me and stay home.) There is no similar incentive to shopping online on any particular day. As long as you place your orders 10 days before Christmas, the items are pretty much guaranteed to arrive in time. No fuss, no muss, no risk of car accidents or brawls over the last Malibu Stacy Beach Bungalow in the store.
Some of you are retailers, but just about all of you work for a business that sells something, complete with sales incentives and projections. How are you managing your customers’ expectations of dealing with you? Are you subjecting them to a stressful Black Friday experience when you engage with them? Do they feel no urgency to close the deal, a la Cyber Monday? Or are you providing them with an easy, pleasant sales process that keeps them coming back no matter the time of year?