Lessons from Groupon: 3 ways to change how you think about your customers

We’ll spare you any commentary on Groupon’s business model, accounting irregularities or stock market misadventures. But it’s hardly surprising news to hear Founder and CEO Andrew Mason’s tenure has expired faster than a Groupon for a cheap haircut.

Mason refreshingly posted in his departing note to Groupon employees, “I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today.” Mason also said, “If you’re wondering why… you haven’t been paying attention.” And, giving credit where credit is due, he was frank about it all saying, “As CEO, I am accountable.”

What we liked most about Mason’s candid and honest note was his admission about customers, “If there’s one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness – don’t waste the opportunity!”

There is a lesson here for brands:

  1. Although important for understanding history and gaining perspective, data can’t predict the future. In other words, data can’t reveal what choice a customer will make. Even customers themselves don’t always know. Sometimes you just need to trust your intuition as a marketer.
  2. Talk to your customers. Know them. Go beyond data. Understand how they feel.
  3. Be real with customers. Be authentic. They will trust you more.

Now that’s a deal.

Read more about Mason’s departure from Groupon at Wired.com.

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