A pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream

If you’re going to shell out the money for premium ice cream, you would be pretty unhappy if your pistachios were soggy, right? That’s what one Massachusetts woman thought, and she decided to take her dissatisfaction all the way to the top. What she didn’t expect was an invitation to visit the Ben & Jerry’s factory.
It’s a great story about taking a customer complaint and turning it into a sweet opportunity to enhance a brand in the minds of consumers.

Here’s the story from ABC News:

On a warm summer day last July, Leslie Gerhat of Waltham, Mass., went to the store to purchase one of her favorite Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream flavors, Pistachio Pistachio. But when she took her first spoonful, Gerhat was disappointed because the pistachios were soggy and fell apart in her mouth.

“I never had had a problem with Ben & Jerry’s before,” said Gerhat. “I felt I had to let them know they had bad products out there.”

Gerhat tossed the pint in the trash and headed straight to her computer, sending the Burlington, Vt.-based company an e-mail explaining the issue. A few weeks later, Gerhat received a coupon in the mail for free ice cream, as is company policy when there’s a complaint. But it’s the personal response she received seven months later that made her feel like a VIP.

“I was sitting watching the Super Bowl and received an e-mail from Ben & Jerry’s inviting me to come to Vermont and take a tour of their factory.”

Gerhat got an opportunity to not only see how one of her favorite treats is manufactured, but share her suggestions on how to improve the product.

So on March 2, Gerhat took a three-hour chartered bus ride from Boston to Vermont with 16 other loyal Ben & Jerry’s customers who had also written to the company.

“Once we arrived, we swapped our stories with employees and they explained to us how some of issues had already been addressed,” said Gerhat.

The soggy pistachios, she learned, were the fault of a vendor. Ben & Jerry’s discovered that the supplier had been roasting the nuts too long.

“We worked with our supplier to make improvements,” said Eric Fredette, one of the company’s “Flavor Gurus.” “The pistachios are now a beautiful green and perfectly crisp.”

Another customer had complained that the brownies in the popular ‘Half Baked’ were dry and crumbly. Ben and Jerry’s addressed that issue by mapping out the entire process with the brownie vendor from temperature to size.

Read the rest of the story.


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