Manage Relationships, Not Transactions

The other day I came across a small clothing brand. I did some digging and learned it was Atlanta based. Since I enjoy supporting local founders, I ordered a few pieces.

A few days later I got an email saying my order had been refunded. No explanation or additional information. I wasn’t sure why I’d been given a refund and decided to email the company for more information. My hope is that I’ll understand what happened with this order so I can place another order or find some other way to support this local brand.

Having built a company that sold physical products online, I know how hard (and expensive) it is to acquire a customer. Lots of great brands are competing for customers’ wallets. If you acquire a customer, you want to think about it as an acquired relationship. Not a transaction. You want to manage the relationship as best you can to increase the probability of their ordering again (thus increasing their lifetime value) and telling others about your brand (word of mouth is the best and cheapest marketing). If you can’t deliver on the product or service the customer has paid for, an explanation goes a long way and often opens the door to the customer accepting a comparable substitute product. But this is possible only if you manage the relationship . . . not the transaction.