I've been both hustling and bustling to get my Christmas shopping done. One of the items I have purchased at many different retailers is a gift card. I'm guessing most of you have bought more than one this holiday season so you know how easy it is.
You select the card design of your choice, you carry it up to the check out, you request a dollar amount and voila, you have a gift card. Pretty standard.
But not always.
I was at my bank earlier this week, making a deposit when I saw a display for VISA gift cards. I needed one for a gift so I thought…great, I'll just get it here.
When I told the teller what I wanted, she was more than happy to sell me the VISA gift card. Here's how the process went.
I pulled my credit card out of my wallet. "Oh no, sir. We can't take a credit card for the gift card." Turns out they could….but it had to be a cash advance. So I had to sign a form for that. I smiled and said, "no problem."
Then, I had to fill out a different form with my name, address, etc. on it so they could register the gift card. I smiled and said, "no problem."
Then…I had to read a 2 page disclosure and sign it. I smiled and said, "no problem."
10 minutes later, I had my $50 gift card. I could have bought the exact same card at my local grocery store or Walgreen's in 30 seconds.
I kept saying "no problem" but — for that bank, it was a big problem.
- A problem of lost esteem. (I'm a good customer and I had to sign 3 different forms to buy a stinking $50 gift card?)
- A problem of changed perception. (if it takes them that long to sell a gift card…how long would it take them to make a house loan?)
- A problem of a bad association. (Every time I see that particular teller…what do you think I will remember?)
And they probably made $1 on the transaction, if that.
Many businesses, in an attempt to be everything to everyone or perhaps to squeak out yet another few pennies of profit — do things that they're not good at. If you're guilty of this — stop it. If you aren't great at it, don't do it. And if you know you can't at the very least — be as good as your average competitor — for the love of God, don't do it.
Whenever we step away from our sweet spot — the thing/things that we excel at (and that our brand should be associated with) we do damage. We damage our reputation, we damage our relationships and we damage our ability to be perceived as the best.
Next time you want to add a product or service to your offerings…ask yourself the very difficult question. Are we good enough to even try this?
If you can't be better than most — don't.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.