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28 Jul 2010

Customer Relations in the Food Industry (only 3 more posts to go)

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Reading this entry called “Pølsesnak” about Løgismose Udvalgt (a Danish gourmet-brand-turned-mainstream), I started thinking about customer relations in the food industry. And two recent incidents made me want to finally share my observations with you.

The first one involved the classic Danish flødebolle-brand Samba, that most Danes will remember bringing to school on their birthday. Though I’ve developed my taste for flødeboller in a much more, should we say “expensive” direction since then, I still like the odd relapse to the flavour of the past. And so it was that I bought a box of Sambas hoping to find them as fresh and crisp as I remembered them (back then they were much better than any of the no-name flødeboller). But no, they were old, chewy and waaay too sweet, considering that they still had a couple of weeks in them before the best-before date.

Because of my childhood loyalty to the brand I wrote to them on their website, explaining both my fondness of the brand and my unfortunate experience. I offered to send them the remaining flødeboller along with the receipt and then I waited for an answer. Not long after that I received a letter in the mail (yes, snail mail!) where they said something along the lines of sorry for your experience-blah-blah-nothing wrong with that particular production blah-blah-here’s a cheque to cover your expenses. Yup – a cheque, this antiquated form of payment that is at best an inconvenience for the receiver, since one has to get it to the bank (of which there are very few physical ones these days). And what was worse, it for the ridiculous amount about 30 kr (~4 Euros)! And that was it. No little extra dime or even better – a box of fresh flødeboller to show me how they should taste. Just my money back. Needless to say I spent the money on a completely different brand of flødeboller and won’t be trying Sambas again anytime soon.

Luckily I also have a real customer-fairytale for you.

It was only an hour ago that I decided to get a fragilité cake from our local Rheinh. van Hauen bakery (on Nordre Frihavnsgade). Quite an expensive little treat, but they’re usually so good that one forgets all about one’s mortal worries for a while. I also bought a “linse” for my boyfriend and that turned out to be nicely crumbly, buttery and with just the right amount of vanilla custard. My cake on the other hand, had a stale tasting butterstick where there should have been fluffy coffee flavoured buttercream. So naturally I went back after three equally bad bites and explained my case to the young lady behind the counter.

To my surprise she was very understanding and said she was very sorry for the bad cake, that she was quite sure had been made this very morning. “What would you like as a compensation?” She went into the backroom and returned with a full-size fragilité for about 8 people (mine was for one) and offered it to me. “I can’t possibly eat all that. Can I have a small linse like the one I also bought this morning instead?” I replied. She promptly wrapped one for me and asked “is there anything else I can offer you?”. I hesitated, because I think the gesture alone was enough of a compensation, but thought I might make her feel better if I agreed. “Can I have one of the strawberry cakes then, just the little one please?”. Her face was surprised – “don’t you want the large one?”. I reclined and then she added “I’m sure you won’t go wrong with this one – the strawberries are practically sparkling!”.

And so it was, that I returned to my apartment, happier that my complaint had been acknowledged and one cake the richer. Can you believe it? For the cost of one tiny cake and an understanding smile, I’m still a happy customer at Rheinh. van Hauen!

(And for the curious ones – yes, the cake didn’t disappoint me. It was sweet, fresh and very delicious.)

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6 Responses to “Customer Relations in the Food Industry (only 3 more posts to go)”

  1. Kerry says:

    Ah, I enjoyed reading those little anecdotes. Good one Rvh! It makes so much sense to make it up to the customer – means so little to them and so much to us :)

  2. Heidi says:

    Hi Kerry! I’m glad that you’re with me on that one. It’s pretty much just customer service 101 but it seems that not everyone is up to speed out there;-).

  3. Kerry says:

    Haha! I’d forgotten that we’d already written to each other here before meeting at the symposium :)

  4. Kerry says:

    Must tell you about a related experience we had with Lagekagehuset next time we see each other…

  5. Heidi says:

    I hadn’t connected the dots until you pointed it out to me, but really it’s nice to think that we “met” before me met.

  6. […] old school bakery Rheinh. van Hauen (whose expensive cakes and great service I have raved about here). Furthermore, they have the most exquisite puff pastry ever, with endless layers of buttery […]

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