Giving Gift Cards
The second major advance achieved by Katersky and his staff was a novel notion, indeed.
They recommended to senior management that BJ's gift cards be distributed, as part of the general liability resolution process to generate additional goodwill during a potentially frustrating time.
"The gift card was seen as a victory by the member and it was a victory for us because there was no cash outlay like in a claim," Katersky said. "And we knew that when people got a gift card they would come back to the store, so now we're hitting customer retention."
Katersky said that because people shop at the same BJ's club most of the time, he and his team didn't want to create a bad feeling between local management and the member, so they took the process away from the club. "That way the club didn't have to get into a fight with the member," Katersky said. "The club was not good at investigations, they were better at running stores. We would tell them when things were resolved and to please look for the member at the member's next visit."
Another key ingredient in the gift card program, he said, was that a letter was sent with each gift card. "We did not ask for a release because then it became a claim and people would hire a lawyer to review the release and before you know it you would have more lawyers in this thing, which we didn't want," Katersky said. "So we took a position that these are relatively small dollar matters and we would try it without the release to see what would happen. And nothing ever happened, so it was great."
Of some 400 events that occurred last year, 320 to 350 of them were resolved without incident.
"Ed Katersky is an awesome risk professional," said Joanne Heslin, vice president of Willis of Massachusetts. "He's very bright. He likes to try new things. He's ahead of his time in many of the things he does. He's very good at forming partnerships. He very successfully trains people. We call him the professor."
-- Steve Yahn
September 15, 2011
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