Recently, Vermont-based ice cream makers Ben and Jerry's decided to make the most out of some unsatisfied consumers by turning negative responses into a positive PR experience. The long time sweets manufacturers extended an invitation for a factory tour to a group of customers who had submitted complaints about their ice cream. It's a one-time event that creatively addressed concerns, and is a worthy case study for companies looking to bolster their user satisfaction.
According to a recent article on Boston.com, Ben and Jerry's receives an estimated 7,500 complaints every year via direct mail, phone and email. A selection of eight shoppers from the Boston area who had been unsatisfied with the particular pints they had bought (each of whom were given a plus one) were taken via bus to the company's main plant in Waterbury, Vermont. There, they were outfitted in protective gear and given a grand tour of the facilities. This included a look at each aspect of production and a meeting with quality manager Melissa Corica, who addressed individual consumer complaints and, in at least one case, explained specifically what went wrong with an individual flavor.
These days, Ben and Jerry's is no longer an independent operation, owned by its parent company Unilever. However, B and J's is the only particular division that maintains its own board, giving it more of a capacity to perform ambitious maneuvers such as this. It's always had a down-to-earth image, and this situation enforced that quality.
Businesses that go out of their way to help their patrons feel noticed may find similar increases in their reputations, and perhaps in their satisfaction ratings as well. Specifically, companies could seek the use of a live answering service to ensure a proper and empathetic response to customer concerns.