I have lived in Las Vegas since 2004 and have worked in the hotel/gaming industry since I moved here. Although many aspects of the industry have changed, the desire to give visitors the best guest experience has not. Guests are now having online conversations about their negative experiences, in real time, via social media platforms. It becomes almost crucial to address these issues instantly before these posts begin influencing the decisions of the audiences who read them. One negative post/tweet can go viral and impact overall numbers. This is true of any industry that relies on the consumer to make their business flourish. A tweet may be sent from a customer, standing in line at a fast food restaurant, saying the service is slow. Someone may read this and instantly decide to go elsewhere. That is how quickly decisions can be made and how quickly business can be lost.
It started me thinking, how would large companies handle a compliment? I’m talking an over-the-top, “I absolutely love” your product compliment that was sent to them through email and wasn’t posted on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Would they simply ignore me, send me a canned response or would they take the opportunity to personalize their response and turn me into a potential brand advocate of their product?
I decided to write to the companies who manufactured some of the products that I buy on a regular basis. Yes, this actually gives you a peek into my refrigerator and kitchen cabinets to see what I eat. No judgements please. Disclaimer: I was not paid by any of these companies to endorse their products.
I went to the website of each company and filled out their standard feedback form. Each comment I wrote contained the following:
- A complimentary greeting / salutation
- A specific reason why I loved the product
- Words of praise / thank you
- A pleasant closing / valediction
Here is what the companies had to say.
Pop Secret Movie Theater Butter Popcorn
To their credit, Pop Secret was the first to reply to my email. Their response came the next morning after I contacted them. It seemed like a canned response because it was rather impersonal but it did contain a thank you with a message that my note would be shared with members of their team. I love this product. It really does have that movie theater butter popcorn taste which I love.
In my opinion, the response I received from Lean Cuisine was the most sincere. It included a heartfelt thank you, an action on their part to share my comments with their team, and an invitation to reach out again with any other comments I had to share. To show their appreciation, they said they wanted to send me a few coupons. This gesture was completely unexpected and definitely put a smile on my face. As promised, the following week I received five coupons for Lean Cuisine products and one for Nestlé ReadyRefresh. Lean Cuisine is sold in Canada and in the Unites States by Nestlé. The Lean Cuisine frozen meals have helped me lose weight. They are the perfect portion size and I never feel hungry. I love the lasagna!
Cheetos Crunchy and Puff Snacks
I have loved Cheetos since I was a kid. I can finish a family size bag, all by myself, in one sitting. I am not proud of it, but it is a known fact by my family and friends. I had great expectations from my favorite product, as far as a response, for my loyalty to their product. I was disappointed when I received their email. They thanked me for being a “fan” and said they were going to add me to the Pepsi Co mailing list so I could be contacted for special sales and promotions in the future. Cheetos is made by Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo.
A week later, they surprised me with two coupons. It wasn’t much in value but that didn’t matter to me. I was happy. They also included a postcard that said they valued my comments and loyalty to their products. I loved it.
Twix Caramel Cookie Bars
The people from Mars Chocolate, the company that makes one of my favorite chocolate bars, didn’t send me coupons but they did send me a nice email. It contained a pleasant greeting, a sincere thank you and indicated they would share the message with their team. They ended the email by saying they hoped I had a great day.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs Cereal
Reese’s Puffs cereal is manufactured by General Mills and inspired by another one of my favorite chocolate treats, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Their response was very professional and not surprising considering General Mills is such a large company with more than one hundred brands in its portfolio of products. They also promised to share my comments with their team and added a comment why they felt my feedback was important. “We are committed to creating the highest quality products for our consumers. Feedback such as yours helps us achieve this goal for the future.”
Dentastix Mini Fresh Dog Treats
My puppy, Tini, loves these treats. They come in a mini size that fit perfectly in her mouth and actually do freshen her breath. The response I received from Pedigree, the company who makes this product, was cute. They responded by using Tini’s name and said the compliment “perked up their ears.” They not only said they would send some coupons, but mentioned how long it would take to receive them. They sent me the most “valuable” thank you gift which was four coupons. Each coupon was one dollar off a Pedigree dog treat. Isn’t that great? Tini says, “I Woof You, Pedigree!”
I am obsessed with the smell of Downy! I told them this as well. Like most of the companies, they said they would share my feedback with their team. They did, however, do two things differently. First, they provided two links to their sites where I could learn more about their different products and find money saving coupons. Secondly, they sent a follow up survey to ensure I was satisfied with the response I received from the customer service agent who emailed me. Here is a photo of what the survey looked like. It only took two minutes to fill out and had happy and sad faces rather than numbers to rate the experience. It was cute.
Lipton Diet Iced Green Tea with Citrus
I love drinking this because it is so flavorful and has zero calories. It is a great option when you don’t want to drink a soft drink or plain water. Their response was a simple thank you and an assurance that my comments would be shared with their team. This seemed to be the standard practice for all companies.
International Delight – One Touch Latte
I wrote this company to tell them I liked several of their products including the light versions of their mocha and caramel macchiato iced coffees. I also told them I liked their coffee creamers and even tried their new product, the One Touch Latte. I was disappointed that they didn’t bother to reply to me because I praised several of their products rather than just one.
The next week after contacting them, I was surprised to find an envelope in my mailbox containing two coupons for their One Touch Latte product. The card that came with the coupons thanked me for reaching out and for my continued loyalty. I love surprises.
Ultra Senior Dry and Canned Dog Food
My puppy Tini is actually ten years old. I just like to refer to her as my puppy. She loves both the wet and dry version of this brand of food. The reason I know is because whenever she really likes her food, she runs around and tosses her squeaky toy in the air. It is her version of me clapping whenever I see my food coming in a restaurant.
Ultra thanked me for my email and said the compliment “really perked their ears up.” That line sounded really familiar!
All in all, I think the experiment was a success! Some companies surprised me with the coupons they sent. I discovered the best practice was to inform the consumer that their positive feedback would be shared with team members. Being that I was already an engaged consumer, I believe some of the following opportunities were missed:
- I should have been invited to try some of their other products
- A slight push asking me to share my compliments on social media wouldn’t hurt
- Asking me to provide feedback on how to improve on their products would be beneficial
Thank you to all these great companies. I love your products!