Call me an extrovert, call me outspoken.
YES—I’ve called Kotex to quite kindly complain that I was upset by not getting pink tampons in my little black box of assorted sanitary products. (And YES, I find it funny that I had to click the word “insert” to add that photo on your right).
Claim I’m irrational or simply ridiculous.
YES—I’ve called Hidden Valley to inform them about how frustrated I was with the production inconsistencies among their squeezable ranch dressing bottles (i.e., Some bottles actually have the hole in the top to squeeze out the dressings, and others merely have an imprint, an innuendo, if you will, on the cap of where the hole should be, yet there is no actual hole over the opening of the bottle). To which their reply was, “Well, some of the 16 oz bottles have them, and others don’t.” Since when are mechanics a variable in assembly line production? Odd.
Call me what you will, claim what you desire, but regardless of how you judge me (empathize? relate?), you and I share a common ground: we are consumers. We are unique individuals, and unique to the brands that surround us. Successful brands are able to reach beyond the surface of this notion and strive to really understand consumers on a deeper level—allocating time and resources toward effective, data-driven target marketing. They want to know who their primary end users are and what mediums will reach them.
Brands who truly know their customers speak to them and recognize their needs. How? They listen. By regularly engaging with consumers, and facilitating positive interactions, brands build trust and loyalty, establishing a strong foundation for long-term B2C relationships.
With that being said, I’m admittedly a consumer who wants to be heard. Customer service 1-800 numbers and e-mail addresses on product labels are there for a reason—and, should something go awry, are intended to be used. So if you ask me—well, you don’t have to. I’ll tell you here and now that I’m in no way ashamed of reaching out to a brand/company when I have any sort of product complaint. I’m sure every now and then companies wouldn’t mind hearing positive reinforcement from a local, vocal and satisfied customer—but unfortunately, I’d have to argue that in most cases problems precede praise.
Example: We all love Apple.
Golden Delicious is my favorite. Ok, I’m biased because I love to surround myself on my bed with all of my iDevices an arm’s length away, in awe and admiration of innovation at it’s finest. Regardless, let’s use this particular brand as an illustration. I love Apple and am constantly raving about their products to friends, family and colleagues. I have a MacBook Pro, iPad, iPod(s) and iPhone. Am I going to call Apple if my iPhone breaks or stops working? Unequivocally yes. Am I going to call to chit-the-chat about my obsession with their brand? Eh—unlikely.
Case and point: problems precede praise.
Thought: Wouldn’t it be interesting if it were the other way around? And instead we only called our favorite brands and companies not to report missing pink tampons or vent about product packaging inconsistencies, but rather to commend them for all the things we love about their product or service. It would change the whole nature of customer service, as we know it. And make many [customer service] representatives’ jobs a lot less difficult and a lot more enjoyable.
With all of that being said, I took it upon myself as a dissatisfied, frustrated, yet brand loyal customer to reach out to ConAgra Foods about my issue with Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn. Thought you might enjoy reading about my experience. And just so you know, one of their reps got back to me the next day. Read my letter and their reply to follow.
To Whom It May Concern,
I am very brand loyal when it comes to microwavable popcorn. I’ve tried Act II, Pop Secret, complimentary bags at hotels, and then some. But it always comes down to my love for the quality and original taste of Orville Redenbacher’s 94% fat free varieties—smart pop and kettle korn, particularly. I’ve never had a problem with the product until recently. We typically buy the bulk boxes of the standard size popcorn bags at BJ’s Wholesale Club. Not only for the great price, but for the convenience of having a stash of my favorite late-night snack readily available.
Recently, I’ve noticed that practically every bag I pop, bursts open and explodes in my microwave. That is, I press the pre-programmed “popcorn” button on my micro, which is supposedly intuitive, only to have the bag not open fully, get stuck on the turntable, and in an failed attempt to expand from the pressure and continual heat, burn a huge black hole through the bag. Literally. As you can imagine, this is a mess, annoyance, and honestly, inconvenience. The inability of the bag to give, or expand evenly (or at all, for that matter), causes hot, unpopped kernels to fly out of the bag and scatter throughout the microwave. At the same time, the giant black ball of popcorn—the nucleus, if you will—continues to burn and enlarge on the inside of the bag. But the bag won’t budge. Ultimately, this affects the editable, popped kernels, which are now burnt and singed from the burnt “nucleus.” And the rest of the bag, aside from what little is actually unaffected, is inevitably, unpopped kernels.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that a good 1-2 tablespoons of kernels will always remain unpopped, in any given bag of microwavable popcorn. I’m ok with that—though it is a frustration that can at times outweigh even the great nutritional value of my favorite go-to snack. But the fact that nearly every bag I make these days leaves a mess in my microwave, let alone more than half of the bag entirely inedible, is a problem.
We’ve tried microwaving the bags by manually entering times and using the instructions on the product’s packaging. (And I can assure you, as an avid popcorn popper, I am putting the bag in with “this side up.”) We’ve even tried a Reader’s Digest tip of placing the microwave bags in the freezer prior to popping—which actually proved a temporarily effective solution. However, I just haven’t been having any luck lately.
If there’s any way you can advise, I would appreciate hearing back from you. I want to continue using this product. I love the taste, I love the brand. But if I can’t find a satiating solution, I may have to set aside my oath to Orville, and sacrifice the quality and taste I’ve come to love for a brand that promises the perfect pop.
I look forward to hearing from you soon, and thank you for your time.
"I am so sorry to hear that our Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn is not popping correctly and leaving a mess behind for you to clean up! I am thankful you emailed us so I can get all of the details you supplied over to our Food Safety and Quality experts. Krystina, please know this isn’t the experience we want you to have with our products so those details will be very helpful for us. Thank-you so much for your loyalty to our brand. I am sending coupons your way via regular mail, please give us another try."
"I sincerely hope that the information I provided will help your quality experts remedy the popping issue. Thank you for the coupons as well—I will certainly give Orville another try. Maybe the box we bought had defective bags. I appreciate your help and the great customer service too."