Putting Yourself in the Customer’s Shoes

This week I was on the hunt for a pair of shoes that my bridesmaids could wear to my upcoming wedding. After scouring the internet, I settled on a pair from DSW. Before asking my bridesmaids to buy them, I wanted to check out the shoes in-store to make sure that the color complemented the bridesmaids’ dresses and that they were comfortable (as comfortable as heels can be, that is).

I tried them on and was happy with the product, but I wanted to see if my bridesmaids could score a better price—after all, being in a wedding can be quite expensive. Considering that I write about marketing for a living, I knew that many brands offer a discount when you sign up for their email list or join their loyalty program. So, I decided to sign up for the DSW Rewards program in-store and see if I could receive a similar promotion.

I went to the cashier and provided my name, address, email address, birthday, and phone number (a treasure trove of data) and received a Rewards member number. I figured I’d receive my promotion in my inbox by the time I got home.  

I did receive an email, but it wasn’t the one I was hoping for. It explained my member benefits–all of which focused more on future events, like points-per-purchase perks and birthday bonuses. But the email didn’t offer any incentive to get me to buy immediately.

I clicked the “shop now” button in the email to see if I could find an alternative promotion on the site. When I clicked through, I saw that I wasn’t automatically logged into my rewards profile. So, I tried to log in manually. But I came to a road block. I was asked to provide my email address and password—even though I hadn’t given the cashier a password when I signed up in-store. I was so confused. I then saw a small link underneath the log-in form asking me to set up my Rewards account online. I was prompted to provide the exact information I had already provided to the cashier—making me feel like setting up the account in-store was a complete waste of my time.

Determined to get my bridesmaids a deal, I re-entered all of my data and set up my online account. I then received a $5-off coupon (which didn’t even seem worth it at this point) the next day.

While I appreciate that DSW was trying to offer new Rewards members value with its $5-off promotion, I really disliked the disjointed experience between the in-store and online realms. The customer journey is no longer linear, and brands need to be able to recognize shoppers wherever they are. Failing to do so only results in repetitive actions for the customer and increased frustration.

Before promoting a loyalty program, marketers should see what the enrollment experience is like firsthand from every channel and really put themselves in the customer’s shoes. And they should make the new loyalty member an offer they can’t refuse before their attention goes elsewhere.

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