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The Price of a Comped Meal
By: Janet Kalandranis
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It happens. There’s a customer issue and a product or service is given for free. It’s the cost of doing business. But what is the cost of those comped meals or those discounted services? A whole lot if you ask Baskin Robbins. In a world where value is underappreciated, customers notice the little things and many times repay a brand for a truly unaided act. Let’s call it a brand bonus.

Many brands save free or discounted products and services for making a wrong right in the customer’s mind. They don’t go around shelling out costly product just because they feel like it. And why should they? Most brands are trying to succeed. But there’s also something to be said for those brands that become human, understand the cost of an action, and simply value their customers. Red Robin comped one meal at $11.50 and now everyone is talking about the brand...positively.  

A manager with human emotion saw a Mom with a kid who was obviously very pregnant and comped her meal for no other reason than just wanting to brighten her day. The meal was taken off the receipt with the note: “"MOM 2 BEE GOOD LUC." Yes, that was real. It wasn’t meant to be anything more than showing a person that Red Robin appreciates its customers. Yet the little act of kindness was so genuine it generated a blitz of PR buzz for the brand, only costing it a mere 11 dollars and change. Why? Because it was just that; a simple human act. Yet it came from a brand. And in a world where customers are feeling undervalued and underappreciated, Red Robin turned that all around. It may be short-term, but customers and humans alike are feeling pretty good.

Obviously this type of thing couldn’t happen every day, but there is some merit to every once in a while changing the rules and just doing what feels right. And more importantly, training managers and employees to understand this concept. It’s not an easy topic to train on — there’s no manual on how it works — but if it’s done right a mere $11.50 can buy a whole lot of brand love.


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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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