LongHorn Steakhouse lured me into its restaurant for my birthday dinner with a "free dessert" email. I wound up with a crappy steak and headaches trying to access the code for my free dessert, which I unfortunately had to leave without -- a story I'll share with you here.
We have a tradition in our family that the birthday person gets a special dinner out at the restaurant of his or her choice. My birthday is coming up, and I was craving steak. There's a really good steakhouse here locally (Binions, if you're ever in the area), but I received an email coupon from LongHorn offering me free dessert for my birthday.
We're right in the midst of leaf season here in Western North Carolina, so we decided to take the trip up to Asheville to see the color and have my birthday dinner at LongHorn. We also used the opportunity to run over to Asheville Mall, both to walk off the dinner calories and to get some shopping done.
Things started going wrong when my steak arrived. I ordered a filet mignon, my all-time favorite cut. So tender ... juicy ... delicious!
Here's what it looked like on the menu.
I want to keep this part of the story short, so I'll just quickly say that my steak was flat, dry, and overdone. It looked something like this.
I ate it anyway, and, although he didn't have to, the manager took the steak off the bill. So that was nice.
The real pain I want to talk about is what happened after dinner, when I tried to claim my "free dessert" -- the offer that convinced us to take the 40 minute drive to Asheville.
I pulled up the coupon on my phone.
Look at that! They've got my name on it, and they obviously know my birthday.
I clicked the button claim my dessert. Simple, right?
No. Not so simple.
Next, a complicated form asked me to sign in.
The page presented three options: create a guest account, sign in with Facebook, or log in.
The email used my name, so I obviously had an account. I tried to log in, but was unsuccessful ... apparently I signed up using a different password.
What's the next easiest thing? How about if I sign in with Facebook?
Only ... that process actually required me to log in to Facebook! And I don't remember my Facebook password, because it's secure, meaning long and convoluted.
Next? How about resetting my password?
I entered my email address, but received an error message telling me that the system didn't recognize it ... that I DIDN'T have an account with that email address.
But ... that's the email address they used to send me the coupon?
At this point, the waitress came over and asked if we'd like dessert. My husband said to come back in a few minutes because I was trying to sign in to get my coupon for the free dessert.
Already frustrated, I asked her, "Can we do this without having me log in? I'm having all sorts of problems here." She said, "No, I need the code to enter it as a free dessert. I'll come back in a little bit."
My next attempt was to create an account, so I filled out the information.
SORRY. Naturally, LongHorn takes my security seriously; the password must be convoluted with a capital letter and numbers and the first 10 digits of pi.
I try again, carefully entering a password that would make the system smile -- and success! Now I'm registered, and can take advantage of the coupon, right?
I returned to the coupon in my inbox, clicked the button to claim my free dessert, and was brought to yet ANOTHER registration form! This one for the loyalty program!
By this time, my husband was encouraging me to give it up, but I didn't want to! I had come so far, and been through so much already, all for a sweet taste of that delicious caramel apple goldrush! I even passed on the bread appetizer to save carbs for the dessert!
I figured I was close now; all I had to do was register for the loyalty program, and that dessert would be here soon.
But then I was asked to select my location.
Do you see Charlotte there, at the bottom of the screenshot? The list of cities is alphabetical.
There is no Asheville there. "A" comes before "C," right? I scrolled all the down just to be sure.
Nope. No Asheville.
Then I see the message the appears directly above the dropdown with North Carolina in it.
It says, "The LongHorn Steakhouse Rewards program is currently only available at select locations."
So it's NOT available in Asheville!
Then why did they send me the coupon?
I was feeling pretty lousy by this time. Crappy steak. Relentless irritation with the "claiming" of my free dessert, and then no dessert at the end.
The waitress came by and asked, and we said, "No, just bring the check; we couldn't get to the coupon."
Now, I have to say, the waitress could have made things all better by offering me the free dessert anyway. But she didn't.
We left, deciding to grab dessert elsewhere.
The moral of the story? How can my experience help you be a better marketer? How can they help your business provide excellent in-store and online experiences? There are a few ways / morals within.
I can tell you this: the next time I get an email from LongHorn, I'll be unsubscribing.
And I will never visit that restaurant again.
Do you sweat the small stuff? Do you want your online presence to inspire trust and confidence? Do you grit your teeth when others don't care enough about YOUR web experience? Are you all about creating an excellent website and excellent content that makes it easy for people to get to know, like, and trust you and buy your stuff?
I think we might be soul mates. And I'd love for you to join my tribe.
When you do, I'll alert you to new blog posts, new programs and products, and new ways for you to create excellent, frictionless, online experiences that lead more people to YES! I promise to be relevant and real, and to send only thoughtful content and advice.
Renae Gregoire works with passionate people who need help capturing their brilliance and conveying it clearly, concisely, and effectively. She pulls out the bits of knowledge and wisdom that live inside you, organizes those bits into coherent, reader-focused messages, and then builds on those messages to create anything from a piece to a suite of marketing content designed to lead people to say YES to your offers.