How’s Your Customer Service? (Redux)

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A few months ago, I wrote about an unusual, and quite positive, customer-service experience. I was an observer for that situation. In recent weeks, I was on the receiving end of customer service that went above and beyond.

There’s a particular brand of prepared stuffed chicken breasts that I happen to like, and therefore buy on occasion for quick meals. A year ago, the company changed its recipes, announcing this with great fanfare in an e-blast to consumers like me. The new recipes, it said, were developed with input from fellow customers. A longtime happy buyer, I looked forward to trying them. After just one bite (no exaggeration), though, it became quite a different story. The breading lacked flavor, and worse, the rest of the seasonings were just plain unpleasant. It was such a disappointing experience that I felt compelled to inform the company, via its website customer feedback section. Within hours, I received a reply:

We’re sorry to hear that you don’t like the new recipe. Our customers helped guide the decision to change the recipe and breading, and our intention was to provide the best quality and taste for our customers. …Once again, we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and want to assure you that we take all customer complaints seriously. We are passionate about food and our goal is to delight our customers.

The company also offered to send coupons to try a different new recipe, which I accepted. Unfortunately, even that was a disappointment. I therefore stopped buying the company’s foods all together…

…until a pleasant surprise arrived on my doorstep in late October. A huge (and I do mean huge) box addressed to me contained a kitchen gift set, with cutting boards, a knife, salt and pepper grinders, and other accessories, which I estimated all to be worth $100 to $150. Also inside, there were coupons for the company’s products, along with a note from its president. One of the first things the president wrote: “We’ve heard you and have made things right.” He explained that the classic recipes were now back, and that he and his team hoped the kitchen gadgets would be put to good use.

All I could think was, WOW. Never have I had a company try to woo me back in such a significant way. My business mind wondered for a moment just how significant their customer losses were, for them to go to such extremes. But, just as quickly, I decided it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter because I felt that I mattered.

On my next supermarket trip, I took one of the coupons and picked up a package of the “old recipe is new” chicken. While it wasn’t entirely the former recipe, it was darn close. And it was delicious.

Recalling the manners that my parents taught me, I visited the company’s website a few days later, to send additional customer feedback. I thanked them for the kitchen gift set and relayed how happy I was that they switched the recipe again. Once again, within hours, I received a reply:

We are so glad that you liked the gift! Thank you for being a great customer and for your feedback. We take customer comments seriously and have taken action based on comments like yours.   Our company is great because of customers like you, and we wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

While I hope I never have a customer service crisis quite like the one this company had, I do know that I will definitely be borrowing a page from its playbook.

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