How to Benefit from Customer Complaints

A recent article about a social media-savvy Domino’s Pizza franchise in Chicago proves that even a bad customer experience can lead to positive opportunities.  In this case, it revolutionized the way this particular pizza shop interfaces with its customers and manages their expectations.

It also reminds us of a story about our own client, Bigelow Tea, and how they turned customer frustration into customer loyalty.

In January of 2007, fans of Bigelow’s Fruit & Almond tea were having trouble finding it in stores.  Confused, they went to the website and learned it had been discontinued.  Because one ingredient had become difficult to acquire, and due to Fruit & Almond’s relatively low sales (compared to their top-selling teas), Bigelow had opted to cease this flavor’s production.

Now frustrated with Bigelow’s decision, Fruit & Almond fans turned to the first interactive channel they could find — namely, the comments of a completely unrelated Bigelow Tea blog post — and asked for help.

After receiving a litany of impassioned comments on the subject, Cindi Bigelow blogged the economic reality of the Fruit & Almond decision and apologized for the inconvenience.  But, having also seen this situation as an opportunity, Cindi realized that Fruit & Almond tea just might be worth saving.

Bigelow already had enough ingredients to make another 400 cases of the flavor.  They used that announcement to buy their R&D department time to concoct a new recipe that could be produced cost-effectively while still satisfying the flavor’s fans.

Today, Fruit & Almond tea is still available, but exclusively online.  And, in a pleasantly ironic twist, it consistently ranks among Bigelow’s top-selling flavors in their online store.

As much as we enjoy a happy ending, we love it even more when it reinforces our core business belief: Listen to your customers.  If they care enough to complain, it means they want a reason to keep coming back.

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