In an April 20 post titled, Sears—Where’s The Love?, I suggested that they create a loyalty program to reward customers who regularly shopped there. I then went to their Web site, clicked on “Contact Me,” and sent them an e-mail containing the link.
To date I have heard nothing, not even from an auto-reply message.
You know how you feel when you attempt to start a conversation with someone and they ignore you? That’s exactly how I feel about Sears.
I’m sure Sears gets dozens if not hundreds of e-mails from customers every week. But, if that’s the case, they could at least use a friendly auto-reply e-mail program.
Remember, it’s a lot more expensive to acquire a customer than it is to retain them.
If your Web site has a means for customers to contact you, respond to customers in a prompt and friendly fashion. If you must use an auto-reply program, customize the wording so that it’s friendly. For example, it could start off this way:
Thanks for contacting us. Due to the volume of e-mails, it may take some time for us to reply to you….
You could even add a little humor:
Hello, I’m the automated e-mail reply software for XYZ Business. Our humans are all busy right now so they’ve asked me to let you know that they appreciate you contacting them and they’ll get back to you as soon as they can….
Don’t stop there. Have a human respond to each letter, phone call, and e-mail. ”But Glenn,” you say, “We don’t have time to do that.” I say, remember that it’s more expensive to acquire customers than it is to retain them. During your busy seasons, consider assigning the duty to interns who can provide the first screening and reply using certain form letters. But teach them how to customize them so they don’t sound like form letters.
Most importantly, be sincere with your replies. Sears could have retained my loyalty even if they had replied, “Thanks for your suggestion, Glenn. We’ve considered loyalty programs in the past, but found that they don’t fit with our current business strategies.”
I would have been pleased with the response from a human and I would have felt like someone had listened to me. That would have translated into a greater willingness for my family to consider shopping at Sears.