Customer Service is the New Marketing

This post is slightly away from the norm when it comes to sports cards, but I will round it all together in the end. Customer service is the new marketing. This is not a new concept, but a concept in that which has grown exponentially over the past 10 years. In the past, you didn’t have sites like Yelp or Google Reviews or social media like Facebook and Twitter.

With social media getting bigger and wider with more people having the ability to post their experiences to a worldwide audience, a bad customer service review can cost you money. And in the other direction, a good review can make you some additional dollars.

I know most of us have made a decision based upon an online review of a company or a product. Hell, you probably visit this site for an honest review from my perspective on any of the products that I have reviewed, or even previewed. You take a look at my opinions, click some links, view some images, and look at all the details and price. I know I do my best to keep you guys happy. I hold promotions, contests, and try and engage you all in discussion. Luckily, I do this for a hobby and not a full-time job.

But when it comes to actual companies that rely on your hard earned dollar, customer service is more king then ever. Let’s take a look at the card companies and everyone’s favorite customer service department, the redemptions department.

We all know that redemptions are a pain. We all know that calling or emailing someone in that company’s customer service department in order to get our redemptions filled is a pain. But what is it that collectors really don’t like…is it the redemptions or the customer service in order to get our redemptions, or a replacement, in a timely manner?

Has your experience created an environment in which you don’t want to collect a company’s products or are apprehensive about buying a company’s products? How would you improve the customer service aspect of card companies? I’m interested in knowing so if you want to share, please post a comment!

Suggestions to Fix Expired Redemptions

Expired redemptions are a black mark on the hobby today. When you open a pack or a box of older cards you always fear the worst. You don’t fear a career minor leaguer, you don’t fear being shorted hits, and you don’t fear pulling a Gypsy Queen jewel relic (or something like it). You fear pulling an expired redemption, especially if it’s of a great player. I was watching some YouTube box breaks today and saw someone pull an expired Sidney Crosby autograph. How crappy does that guy feel?

Redemptions are in the product because the athlete had not signed the card (or sticker, jersey, etc.) and it was not back in the factory at the time of pack out. That leaves little printed stickers on cardboard telling you they owe you a card. Also on that card is an expiration date. Why? Some states apparently consider redemption cards “sweepstakes” and there must be a definite start date and end date.

First, why not make the end date 10 years from the start date? Extending the redemption end period would solve so many problems. Upper Deck has claimed close to 90% of redemptions are claimed within the two years. How about making it 99% and extending the redemption dates? Especially for those players that take forever to sign. I’m talking to you Vince Carter and Monta Ellis.

Speaking of players taking forever or not signing, why not add in a little something to the contract? If you do not autograph these items by xx/xx/xx your contract for this product is void and you are not getting your money. Hit them where it hurts. I know you want to get checklists out and promos out ahead of time but which is worse? A late checklist or angry customers because they never get their redemption? It should be focused on customers first.

But what is done with the cards once the redemption has ended? Some companies use those cards as replacements to other redemptions that people have sent in. Others are known to destroy those cards. Why in the world would you destroy them? Why not just use some of the older redemption cards as replacements for an expired redemption? How about a box of cards from the latest product for those higher end redemptions? What about another sport? I’m just tire kicking here but there has to be something the company can do.

You want to “bring back the card shop” then do something to help make their boxes worth something if they have extra product laying around. Prices of boxes with expired redemptions are dropping and the “hobby shops” you all adore are having to take losses because of these redemptions. They will continue that trend for as long as redemptions are in products and expire after two years. How much will you be able to get Panini Limited hockey for after their redemptions expire? (In case you don’t get the reference, some Limited boxes have had as many as 3 redemptions inside.)