I’m not sure how it happened, but I suddenly realised today that it is well over 37 years since I last bought anything with the Heinz label, and it will be at least another 37 years before I think about buying anything again. This thought suddenly brought home to me again how important a response to a complaint can be, and how important customers are to a business.
Now you may think that my response is petty, but I will tell you the tale. My daughter was still tiny and only eating a little solid food. At that time it was mostly pureed fruit and vegetables – apples, pears, carrots etc. Very rarely I would buy a readymade jar of Cow and Gate, but mostly it was freshly prepared. One day we visited a friend, and her also tiny daughter, and stayed longer than expected, so I had to ‘make do’ with a can of Heinz apple puree that was in her cupboard. We opened it and were shocked to find a not so small and perfectly formed spider nestling in the puree. A second can produced the required lunch, but we still had the evidence from the first. After lunch it was decided that we would write a letter to Heinz telling them about it, this we did, not sending the spider but preserving it carefully. The letter was sent on our way home.
It was a month before Heinz replied. They were sorry, but unable to do anything as we had not sent the said creature. The whole tone of the letter, quite frankly, said ‘we don’t believe you’. Together we wrote another letter, this time including the spider – it was still perfectly formed. Another month went by and we received another letter. It was a preprinted form containing all sorts of facts about how careful Heinz were to ensure that their products were safe etc, and finally at the bottom was a typed PS telling us that there was no need to worry, the object we had returned was only plant matter. For our trouble they enclosed a voucher for 5p, which, by the way, was less than the cost of a tin of their babyfood.
That was the day we both decided that we would never again purchase Heinz. I had a phone call from Sue today, and out of the blue this memory surfaced. We both laughed – and both admitted that we still don’t buy anthing with a Heinz label. Sometimes you have to read the really small print to discover that Heinz are involved – but if it is there I will find it. My first son in law was a very fussy eater, everything was smothered in Ketchup, but as mine wasn’t Heinz he wouldn’t eat it. He would only eat Heinz soup – and beans (in fact, this was just about the total of his diet when he first came into our lives) I’m glad to say that he wasn’t quite so fussy by the time he disappeared into another life.
So, I ask you – How important is YOUR customer service? Do customers count or do you just want their money. OK, Heinz may still be a big company, but they may have been bigger with our money too…..