Thursday, April 09, 2009

We Have Our Say On 'Customer Recommends'

The news that Borders UK is offering customers 20% off their next purchase if they can recommend a book makes a lot of sense and is something many of us do today unrewarded. Word of mouth and sharing books we enjoy has always been what book reading is often about.

The news broken in the Bookseller today and refers to the campaign as “Have Your Say—customer recommends” and that it will start in stores on Saturday.

However we thought that there may be a small hole in the logic. The report claims ‘When a customer buys a book, they are given a belly band to write a short customer review of the title. Once it is handed back to the store, the customer gets 20% off their next purchase.’

So the customer hasn’t read the book only bought it, but is expected to make a recommendation based on what – the jacket, the blurb, the author the day of the week? We obviously may have got this wrong but surely they can’t recommend what they haven’t read?

Ok, they must be recommending another book and one perhaps Borders doesn’t stock. No, that can’t work either. Ok they bought it last week, have read it, want to go back to the shop and write a review and claim 20% of their next purchase. We hope they kept their receipts and did question whether they bought the book before or after the campaign started? Maybe all they are doing is saying ‘i've bought it’, in which case a simple sales chart would do the business. What happens if the recommendation is not altogether positive, can the still get their 20% off?

Perhaps we are missing the point and its just another way to discount books!

Finally, we do see the exercise as being a great way to gather lists and email addresses of book buyers and linking them to genre but if the process doesn't capture that information only the review which is just by ‘a reader’ this obvious benefit is also lost.

Anyway, the one good point is that as books need to be bought it unliokely that we shall see swathes of marketing department people filling in recommendations.

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