How daily deals can damage your online reputation

Groupon, LivingSocial, Google Deals, Yipit, and the list goes on — while daily deal sites can be a great way for business owners to bring in new customers, the results aren't always pretty. In fact, a study conducted by researchers from Harvard and Boston University discovered an inverse relationship between the number of customers brought in by Groupon and the satisfaction of those customers as expressed on Yelp.

It makes sense when you think about it. Once a deal is released, the onslaught begins. Appointments get booked up. Staff gets stretched thin. Demand increases in ways the business isn't always prepared to deal with.

While we haven't done our own independent study, we can back it up anecdotally. There are more and more reviews out there that have the same basic story line: "We came in because we had a Groupon, but the service was so bad we're never coming back!" Never mind that the bad service is often the result of a harried staff that was completely unprepared for a deluge of demanding customers. (And you'd think someone getting 50% off on his dinner or a massage for $42 would be a little more understanding!)

Food for thought if you're planning to run a daily deal: Make sure you're staffed up. And make sure your staff is prepared for the extra work. Be patient even when there are 17 people simultaneously wanting all your attention. And be prepared for someone to complain about something.

Got a story about a Groupon gone wrong? Any words of wisdom for other business owners who might be considering offering a daily deal?