Product Feedback Is Worth Your Time

By Linsey Knerl on 27 November 2007 (Updated 2 January 2008) 10 comments
Photo: Ade Oshineye

I couldn’t believe that my 3M Microfiber mop had cracked – again. It was the 3rd time in 6 months, and the thing wasn’t exactly cheap. I was ready to cry. Not because the dumb thing broke, but because I had company coming over in a few hours, and I was now reduced to scrubbing on my hands and knees the way my mother did in the 80’s.

 

Days went by before I decided to email the company to give them a run-down of what happened with the mop. I wasn’t expecting anything in return, but I needed to vent. I politely drafted an account of all the times the mop broke, and how it had disappointed me to the point of considering a lifetime ban of their cleaning products.

 

The email was sent; I felt better. I had almost let it go, when the postman came to my door a week later with a large package. Inside the box was a new mop, two replacement mop heads, coupons for a few free products, and a letter of apology. 3M had redeemed themselves, and I was cleaning my floors again.

 

What did I gain from this experience? At first glance it would seem a few free products. It really went deeper than that, however. 3M went on to redesign their mop head. I haven’t had the problem of a breakage since. I may have been influential in changing the way a product was made, and it was simple to do.

 

Product feedback doesn’t always have to come in the form of a complaint, however. I have taken a few minutes to give kudos for a well-made product more than once in my lifetime. A particularly effective laundry soap or a better-than-average granola have received high praise from me in the form of a call to their 800-number designated for complaints and questions. (Note: The folks fielding the call are usually so delighted to hear positive feedback that they will treat you like royalty, and often free product coupons or special incentives will find their way into your mailbox!)

 

Not feeling up to speaking to anyone? Email is still an effective way to go. While you may not get the resolution you need as quickly as phoning the customer service department, it is a great way to record the dates and times of your contacts. Eventually, you will get a response.

 

Taking time to give quality feedback is an opportunity that can often reap great rewards. Go ahead and let companies know how you feel. It may result in better products for everyone and a little incentive in your pocket!

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Guest's picture

My wife and I are big fans of Lipton's Diet Green Tea.
A few weeks back we purchased a couple bottles that had a very weird taste to it. The tea almost tasted dirty. We couldn't decide if it was the flavoring gone bad or maybe the water.
Either way I contacted Lipton and within a week they had sent me four coupons for free products.
They basically redeemed the cost of the original bottles and gave us two bottles for free.
Now I'm completely satisfied and back drinking my Lipton tea.

rstlne's picture
rstlne

I had an unsatisfactory experience at Qdoba. I sent them feedback at their corporate website. They sent a gift certificate. Months later, nothing changed. So I just stopped going. Sometimes complaining doesn't do any good. It's hit or miss.

Guest's picture
Heidi

I work in product development - listening to the customer and creating better stuff in my job!

In addition to offering unsolicited feedback as the author suggests, also take the time to fill out customer satisfaction surveys. We hear most often from those with complaints, so positive feedback is especially nice!

On a related topic: I had a bad experience with a bottle of Kendall Jackson wine (dry cork) several years ago. My partner wrote and email to complain and a few weeks later we got four bottles of wine, a food pairing guide, a corkscrew, and other stuff in the mail. I still drink KJ Chardonnay today!.

Guest's picture

I've gotten into the habit of sending back plastic packaging and plastic items that come unsolicited. I wrote a blog post about this subject a few weeks ago:

http://www.fakeplasticfish.com/2007/10/sending-things-back.html

Recently, I sent back an automatic TurboTax CD that I received unsolicited because I'd rather download than use extra plastic.

Whenever I send things back, I include a note explaining that plastic is harmful to the environment and I'd rather not receive unsolicited plastic packaging and plastic items.

Recently, a few other bloggers have started doing the same thing!

Guest's picture

Reviews and thoughtful followup of bad experiences as well as good ones are often appreciated by a company that cares about customer service. And for those that don't, some good feedback might make them care.

We have found many companies come to our site and others looking for comments.

You might want to take a look at Measuredup.com which is a site devoted to Customer Service reviews.

I am writing from Measuredup so i should also say their are other competitors out there you might want to try with your comments but of course we think we are the best.

Thanks,

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for the uplifting advice (reminder). We all know of the complaints ignored galore -- when the customer service rep/manager insists that "that..." (whatever we mention) has never happened before. I had a friend have an unusual problem with her new car, which should took to the dealership, where she was nearly shamed into thinking she was the problem; a few months later, there's a national recall!!

It's been awhile but I alerted a company (Guiltless Gourmet) about some stale chips; and I received a fresh bag and a bunch of coupons in the mail. Just last week, my son rejected some microwave popcorn because it didn't have the butter flavor it should have (he wasn't being ornery, I checked it and he was righ). I considered calling the manufacturer and/or retailer but didn't; you've inspired me though to follow up. It's helpful to the companies who do listen and now that I think of it, can be rewarding as well!

Linsey Knerl's picture

The popcorn situation reminds me of a time when every bag that I popped out of a particular box of popcorn burnt after only 1 minute, and none of the kernels popped.  When I contacted them with the batch number, they looked into it and were able to fix an error on their processing line as a result.  Not only did I get a refund, some extra popcorn, and a "thank you," but I was able to save some other folks the hassle of buying defective popcorn.

 

Guest's picture
Fiona

I definitely agree with you. I once had a box of M&Ms and one was deformed with white flecks. I emailed the company about it and they phoned me up later to confirm my email. Then they sent me a $5 cheque to reimburse me for it, which was great!

Guest's picture
Guest

WHAT!.!.!......you mean those deformed little guys are worth money???????? Wow.

Guest's picture
Ryan

I don't agree with Heidi of "Amen". I have filled out customer satisfaction surveys and looked at several of them. Most of them are designed for only "satisfied to not satisfied type answers." In other words they are designed to give them the answers that they are looking for and nothing else. I believe the most relevant questions in most of them are not asked. Most, especially online forms, have no comment area where people can relate an experience with their product. Several companies that are online do not even have a contact link so people can "vent" or praise the company for their products.