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Using Groupon and Living Social: How It Can Help Your Business


Over the weekend I hosted a small dinner party at my home and the dinner conversation turned to Groupon and Living Social. We all exchanged some funny stories like driving one hour to get a 50% discount on a new frame for a picture we recently purchased to eating out at some very unusual places. The overall consensus  remained the same however- we all were able to suggest a restaurant that we had tried through Groupon or Living Social that we do return to because of the experience we had while using the coupon. We all agreed that when we find a place that delivers on the brand promise, we will shop or dine at the business again. Good service, good products or food, with a pleasant atmosphere will bring us back.

Before using Groupon I feel that the merchant must really be ready to staff accordingly and engage with the customer in a friendly and unique way as a first time guest using a coupon. Making the customer feel welcomed instead of the look of, “Oh no, not another Groupon customer” will do wonders to get me back! But am I alone? We did a little digging to find some recent research on the subject and found the study noted below:


Research Study: ForeSee Groupon Satisfaction Study, March 2012

Data collected from thousands of local merchants who have worked with Groupon shows that these businesses see significant value and benefits, including increases to their customer bases, consumer loyalty and brand awareness.

Key findings from the reports include:

Groupon earns high marks in merchant satisfaction

  • Groupon’s overall merchant satisfaction was a very strong 79 in March (source: ForeSee Groupon Satisfaction Study, March 2012)
  • The average satisfaction score for a B2B company in ForeSee’s benchmark is 64, which means that Groupon’s merchant satisfaction score is 15 points higher than an average of its B2B peers, and even exceeds the Fortune 500 benchmark by 10 points (source: ForeSee Satisfaction Benchmark, March 2012)

Groupon brings business through the door and helps local merchants attract long-term, loyal customers

  • Groupon brings customers in the door and 74% of merchants say that is the main reason they work with the company (source: ForeSee Groupon Satisfaction Study, March 2012)
  • 91% of daily deal customers have already or plan to conduct business with the merchant again since buying the deal (source: Foresee Daily Deal Commentary, February 2012)

“We see that satisfaction with Groupon is consistently above average, for both merchants and customers alike, and our extensive research shows us that companies who score favorably with these two groups are well-positioned for success,” said Larry Freed, President and CEO of ForeSee. “All of the studies we’ve done about Groupon lead me to believe this is a company that clearly drives new and repeat business.”

“Our internal data regularly demonstrates high merchant satisfaction and strong results for local businesses running Groupon features,” said Eric Rasmussen, VP Market Research at Groupon. “The ForeSee Daily Deal Commentary report confirms the important role Groupon plays to help local businesses spark growth and entice new customers.”

To further improve a merchant’s ability to evaluate their performance with Groupon, the company recently launched a series of products designed to improve ease of use, increase ROI transparency and deepen merchant-to-customer relationships. These include the free online scheduling tool Groupon Scheduler ( as well as the company’s loyalty program for businesses, Groupon Rewards ( and the revamped Merchant Center, a dashboard providing real-time customer feedback and performance across traditional Feature Deals and Groupon Now! Deals. Merchants can also use Groupon’s free iPhone and Android applications to redeem vouchers and track deal performance.


ForeSee B2B Benchmark, March 2012 (Independent Study)

ForeSee Daily Deal Commentary, February 2012 (Independent Study)

ForeSee Groupon Satisfaction Study, March 2012 (Commissioned by Groupon)


What about you? Have you found a great place because of a Groupon or Living Social coupon?

The Little Things Make It Great: The Ritz Carlton Way


I recently watched a show detailing the Ritz Carlson customer service model, and was quite impressed with it. One particular tactic the hotel uses made me think about how the littlest things can make the biggest impact on your customers.


The show explained how the doormen and valets are responsible for making the experience great from the get go. As the luggage is removed from the car, the employee looks at the luggage tag to see the customer’s name. A quick contact with the front desk happens during this time so the desk attendant knows the name of the customer who is arriving.


When the employee opens the car door for the new guest, he/she is greeted by name. While this is happening, the front desk representative can pull up the customer’s file. When they get to the desk, he/she is again greeted by name and either welcomed back to the hotel or welcomed as a first time guest, depending on what their file reveals.
Such a small thing, but I can imagine many guests feel that their stay is very important to the hotel, and the visit is definitely getting off to the right start.


This led me to find other ways businesses can make a big impact with a small gesture. Here are some other examples I’ve found that are easily employed within a company culture:


Restaurants: reward your loyalty card holders in surprising ways. Offer priority wait lists when reservations are required, or randomly offer free desserts or appetizers after x number of visits. Don’t advertise this – just do it. It will create a surprise that will keep them coming back. According to a recent study, nearly 62% of survey participants said that special treatment was important to them, and yet only 16% said they got special treatment from loyalty programs.


If reservations or a wait list come into play, make sure the host staff ask if the guests are celebrating a special occasion. If so, alert the server so that the occasion can be celebrated at the table, perhaps with a free slice of cake, or other fun item.


Retail: when handling transactions, compliments can go a long way. You may get the customer involved in a brief conversation and learn why they’re making the purchase. If they’re purchasing items for an upcoming vacation, be sure to wish them a great time on their trip at the end of your interaction. If they are loyalty card users, address them by name at the end of the interaction. Anthing to personalize the experience will make it even more positive for your customers.


Just a few simple ideas to get the ball rolling – what steps can YOU take to make a difference?


To bring it full circle, I wanted to share a video I came across that shows the Ritz Carlton going above and beyond the call of duty when a young child leaves his most prized stuffed animal behind….




We’ve Seen It All In Mystery Shopping….


Being in the industry for over 15 years now, we’ve seen it all. Mystery shopping has many uses, and one of them is seeing things that are happening that you would otherwise have no clue about. These are situations where employees are behaving badly, or doing things that can hurt your business. While we, as a mystery shopping provider, serve as merely the messenger, sometimes we cringe when we have to send reports that detail some alarming issues. Often times we hear from clients that these few shop reports make the entire program that much more valuable.


Some examples from our years in the industry are varied; some a bit comical, others downright disturbing….


1. An appliance retailer was shopping their locations on a regular basis. The program was going very smoothly until an unsuspecting shopper engaged in a conversation about washers and dryers with an associate. The associate discussed features and benefits, but instead of closing the sale, proceeded to tell the shopper to go to their competitor to make the purchase. The associate went on to explain how “awful” this company was to work for, and how the competitor offered better prices and treated their employees much, much better. In fact, he was trying to get a job there so he can get out of “this hell hole.”


2. A mystery shopper went to a bank to inquire about home equity loans. The banker did an outstanding job, and even followed up with a call a few days later. The shopper became nervous when coming home from work one day to find a hand delivered packet of information from the banker in her mailbox. There was a note enclosed about how much he enjoyed their conversation and really wanted to do business with her, and take her out for dinner sometime. He attempted to call a few times after to ask her out on a date as well.


3. One location in a retail chain was not happy about having a mystery shopping program in place. After complaining about it to management with no change, they decided to take measures into their own hands. As reports were coming in, the client was concerned because a shopper listed “Jack” as the employee, but he was not working that day. Another report comes in, and the same thing – “Emily” is listed as the employee the shopper talked to, but Emily was on vacation that week. We had receipts as documentation that the correct location was shopped on the correct day, and interviewed shoppers to ensure they were providing the correct name. After lots of back and forth, it was learned that the employees of this location “banded together” to get rid of the program. They all changed name tags with each other and never wore their own while they worked during this time period – their thinking was that if multiple reports came in with “wrong” names, it would prove that the program was unreliable and should not be used. Those employees were in quite a bit of trouble once this all came to light.


4. A shopper was to talk with a quick serve restaurant to learn about catering options, as they wanted to ensure staff was knowledgeable about the catering options for larger orders, school events, etc.  Here is how the conversation went down….


Shopper walks in and is greeted upon arrival. Shopper asks: Can I speak to a manager?
Cashier: You just got here. How could something be wrong already?
Shopper: No, no. I wanted to ask a question about school lunch.
Cashier: Like a field trip?
Shopper: No. For a school hot lunch program
Cashier: What do you need?
Shopper: Well, I wanted to find out if you provide hot lunch for schools in the area. I know some other restaurants do.
Cashier: Blank stare…..calls over to a manager
Manager: (no greeting) You want what? You have a big order?
Shopper: No. I wanted to find out if you have a catering option where you could provide hot lunch for an elementary school once a month
Manager: Catering? Giiirrrlll, this is XXX, not some fancy catering place.
Shopper: Okay, I wanted to check because our school has a few lunch days each month, like Subway and McDonald’s, etc so we wanted to see if XXX was an option.
Manager: Well, you could place a really big order. Do you want to do that now?
Shopper: Um, no. It wouldn’t be until next year, so I don’t think that’s a good idea.
Manager: So yeah…no we can’t do orders that far in advance. This just isn’t going to work out.


Most of the time, everything goes smoothly. However, we sometimes run into situations similar to the above. At least with a strong program in place, these situations can be uncovered quickly and be addressed before the issues become too widespread.