When it comes to customer service, we’ve all got our tales of the good, the bad, and the ugly. My friend Lillie Normile recently wrote an excellent account of some bad customer service she’d had on her blog, Notes from Napanee.
This is a good news story. But there’s a bit of bad and ugly in here too.
The story starts with a search for gluten free bread, which is not always easy. A couple of months ago while on a camping trip we stopped at a couple of bakeries and one store, but no luck on the bread. I finally found some in a grocery store near Wellesley Island State Park in New York State, where we’d be staying. It was a brand I’d wanted to try: UDI’s.
We got to the campground, got set up, and settled down at the picnic table with some tuna salad I’d made for lunch, and I was all set to make my sandwich. Then I opened the loaf of bread to find this:
It got worse. It wasn’t just one or two slices–it was most of the loaf!
Not only did the slices have holes, the edges were crumbly. I’d hardly be able to make a sandwich from this. I managed to spread some of the tuna salad around the holes and have some lunch. There were a few more salvageable slices. The rest would be made into bread crumbs when we got home. I’d also be contacting UDI’s.
I searched the company website and easily found an email address where I could send my comments–and my photographic evidence. UDI’s is based in Great Britain so I really didn’t hold out much hope for any resolution to this problem, but I felt better having sent my note. As I said, I’d been looking forward to trying this bread, and it was nice that I’d paid less for the bread than I would have at home, but it was still expensive–almost $5.00 for a small loaf of bread.
Now here’s the good news: Within a week, I received an email from Chris Sherman, a representative of the UDI’s Consumer Response Team.
Chris was very apologetic that I’d had a “negative experience.” Ms. (or Mr.–can’t be sure with the name Chris) Sherman was also appreciative that I’d provided the packaging coding so the Quality Control department could look into this further. No excuses or platitudes were offered. Just a sincere apology and a request that I give their products another chance.
To make this easier, Chris said that I would be mailed a coupon for a free UDI’s product of my choice. A few weeks later I received a coupon for a free product AND I received another coupon for $1.50 discount for another product.
With the discount coupon I bought another loaf of the same Whole Grain bread I tried earlier. With the coupon for the free product, I purchased a package of four chocolate muffins. This normally would have cost me almost $13, and I wound up spending less than $5. Good news.
My “negative experience” had already turned positive, and it got better. No holes in this bread.
It was worth the wait for the coupons. Even better, the muffins were delicious; they tasted more like cake. I shared them with our son, but he was kind to only try one and leave the rest for me. He did agree that they were indeed *very* good (and this comes from someone who does not need gluten-free food.)
Sorry–no photos of the chocolate muffins. They got eaten too quickly.
I sent Chris a note expressing my gratitude for the coupons, and my delight with the products.
Lillie didn’t have a good customer experience in a local grocery store, and insult was added to injury by a lack of response when she wrote a letter expressing her concerns. Unfortunately, we hear of the bad–or even ugly–stories more than the good news stories. Companies need to recognize and appreciate that customers appreciate good service and will go elsewhere quickly when they don’t receive it–whether it’s from a store clerk, a manager, or a company representative. We have a lot of choices where to spend our hard-earned money, and we don’t always give second chances.
In this case, I’m glad I gave UDI’s another try. If you need a gluten-free diet, or know someone who does, I recommend this brand. If you’re not completely satisfied, contact Chris Sherman. You’ll be glad you did.
Do you have a good, bad or ugly story about customer service? Let us know.