Cabela’s Offers a Discount: A Compensation Fail?

With all of the outages that occurred this week due to Amazon’s server issues we’ve discussed taking the appropriate measures to make your customers happy and what some companies did (or failed to do) in that regard. While Cabela’s website outage was unrelated to the Amazon.com outage, they seem to be taking their customer satisfaction advice from the wrong people.

Cabela’s Website Goes Down

Website downtime happens. It happens to the best of sites and the worst of sites. There’s just no getting around it. When it does happen, however, you’d better be prepared to communicate with your customers and, if necessary and warranted, offer them some sort of compensation. Just make sure the compensation itself isn’t an insult.

That seems to be what happened with Cabela’s this week. The site went down. Customers could deal with that had they been communicated with and respected enough to be told what was going on. That, unfortunately, did not seem to occur. When Cabela’s realized their mistake, they jumped into action ready to offer customers a coupon to use in exchange for the inconvenience they experienced. The problem? The coupon was only good for one day and it had expired by the time many customers had received it.

From a marketing perspective this is brilliant (if your marketing techniques are a bit underhanded, that is). Make your customers think you’re doing something nice for them and jack up your sales for the day. The problem is, Cabela’s customers saw right through it. As Twitter member Dan Rogers tweeted, “Cabelas sent a coupon to make ip for their website outage. A one-day expired coupon. Wth. #cabelas fail.”

One Mistake after Another

The website outage wasn’t necessarily the fault of Cabela’s, although we can’t be sure because they don’t seem to be talking about it. What they are doing is getting customers even more frustrated by offering “compensation” that is really just an insult if you think about it. A one-day coupon? Worse yet, a one-day coupon that’s already expired? Better deals can be had in the local newspaper. Perhaps a week would be acceptable – but one day? Cabela’s – your customers tend to drive big trucks and carry shotguns. Do you really want to insult them like that?

All kidding aside, if you do offer your customers compensation when Alertra notifies you of a website outage, make sure the compensation you offer isn’t merely adding insult to injury.