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What’s in the box? A great deal, or a great deal of disappointment? It’s a good concept for a game show, but potentially a poor strategy for building meaningful and valuable long-term customer relationships, which is critical to our long-term survival. Last week, I talked about our need to move from short-termism to a longer-term service strategy and I would urge all to consider how Black Friday genuinely fits into our desire to focus on service as a key business driver.

The concept of Black Friday, which arrived on our shores from the US around a decade ago, has proven something of a Pandora’s box for UK brands. Whether you’re a utility firm, retailer or restaurant, the pressure to offer exceptional deals is increasingly undermining the original concept of black Friday – where current stock was discounted across the board in a genuine sale and this has been replaced in many cases with a “stack ‘em high, sell ‘em low” concept which is no longer appropriate and could erode customer trust and goodwill when deals disappoint.

Despite rising pressures on the cost of living, and perhaps because of it, most consumers are looking to buy less but spend more with a company they trust. Conversely, 78% of consumers are likely to seek an alternative once trust has been lost. Overclaiming deep discounting of goods and services for the sake of “Black Friday Deals” risks squandering long-term loyalty and reputation for the sake of short-term sales.

Smart brands are seeing this year’s Black Friday as the opportunity to start the festive season by thinking about how they reward existing customers based on customer understanding and insight and forge new relationships with potential ones by focusing on their brand purpose and provenance. The appeal for business should be obvious – providing better service increases customer trust, and in turn, customer retention and recommendation. Today, brands should focus on getting the basics of quality and reliability right, whilst delivering a level of empathy and reassurance at a time of rising prices and squeezed disposable incomes.

The question for brands today should not be deal or no deal, but rather whether the Pandora’s box many opened a decade ago with Black Friday deals still contains hope for the future. Switching our thinking away from the lowest price to balancing cost, quality and service is a better strategy for both businesses and consumers. That increases your chances of building lasting, trusted relationships with customers that deliver to the bottom line not just for this season.

Jo joined The Institute as its CEO in 2009. She has driven membership growth by 150 percent and established the UK Customer Satisfaction Index as the country’s premier indicator of consumer satisfaction, providing organisations with an indicator of the return on their service strategy investment.

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