Promoting business online but not on mobile devices: A small mistake or big failure?
Thursday, July 03, 2014
I was craving for dim sum the other day. A friend of mine recommended I try Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village in San Gabriel Valley, California. He told me the food was good and it was an upper-upscale restaurant for dim sum. In addition, he could pass me a voucher of $17 through WeChat, which is a mobile app that is similar to WhatsApp but is dominant in mainland China.
I looked up the restaurant using my iPhone. It seemed the restaurant presented the food well. In general, people posted positive comments about the food, but with a few complaints about the service.
I decided to give it a try. I followed my friend’s instructions for the coupon on WeChat: Use the link provided, and sign up for a coupon on Evite, all with my iPhone. Within seconds, a voucher was sent to my email address. I viewed the voucher and saved it in the PassBook app, also on my phone.
My party of two was sat immediately. After we sat down, I told the hostess I had a coupon on my phone and asked if I must show her the coupon before placing orders, or if I could show it to the server after the meal.
She stopped and gave me a confusing look. Then, she asked, "Can you print the coupon out?"
"No, I can't," I answered. I asked her to check with the manager and see if the restaurant would accept the e-voucher that is saved in my PassBook.
We quickly ordered a few items on the menu, but nobody followed up with me about the coupon.I asked the hostess again when she passed by my table later.
Finally, she told me, "Sorry, we cannot honor your voucher because our accounting department requires us to submit a hard copy of a coupon for any discount; you can only redeem your coupon if you print it out."
I did not raise more questions, and of course, I did not use my e-voucher either. The food tasted good and was served in big portions, but I understand now why most customers only gave three stars to this restaurant on Yelp.
It may seem the restaurant had made a small mistake by failing to honor an e-voucher. However, considering the fact that so many consumers are now relying on mobile devices when searching for a restaurant or a hotel, this restaurant had made a huge mistake by separating the company's promotional strategy on mobile devices from its online marketing campaign.
Since this restaurant has enabled consumers to help promote the business on mobile devices, why would it refuse to accept the e-vouchers that are saved on consumers' mobile devices?
Even when the restaurant's current policy prevents servers from accepting e-vouchers, would it be better if the manager can acknowledge customers' effort of bringing in an e-voucher in some way? Furthermore, would customers give this restaurant a higher rating in service if the staff was more knowledgeable and can follow through customers’ inquiries?
Today, the majority of consumers view mobile phones even more important than other must-haves in people's daily life, according to a recent survey reported by The Wall Street Journal. The mobile trend in business will be here to stay. Businesses really have no other choice but to integrate mobile into their overall e-marketing strategies.
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