if you are going to sabotage what you do.
I love beer and trying new offerings. There is a lager produced in Cornwall, which is one of my favourites, I have been ordering for home delivery ever since the first lockdown. I am on the brewery’s email list so receive offers and news. I was exciting about a new beer they were promoting and wanted to try it. Being vegan I always check that there are no animal products in the drinks I am buying. The Germans who have ‘The Reinheitsgebot’ (purity of beer regulations rooted in laws introduced in Bavaria in 1516) are horrified by what we put in our beer.
There was no information on the company’s website and the beer was too new to be listed on Barnivore (a website that lists drinks and indicates whether they are vegan) so I emailed the brewery. The email was an example of the triumph of hope over experience; I have emailed the brewery before and got no response. It was the same result this time, despite me sending a reminder email, so I did not buy the new beer. Additionally, I have decided that is it with the company, I will be buying lager from another brewery, not Cornish, but it does have excellent green credentials. I have also unsubscribed from their emails.
Contrast that with my experience of Sandford Orchards, a small cider maker in Devon. The apples they use are grown within a 30-mile radius of the presses. I bought their cider during the summer and signed up to receive emails from them. A little while ago they sent me an email about a beer that had been produced by the Windsor & Eton Brewery using juice from their apples; Beamquake Graf – apple beer. I liked the sound of that so emailed Sandford Orchards to ask whether it was vegan. I got a quick response to say that they would ask the Eton & Windsor brewery and get back to me. By the end of the day, I got my reply, “it was suitable for vegans”. I placed an order and a few days later was enjoying some excellent beer. I am about to place a repeat order.
The moral of the story is, communicate with your customers and they will stay with you, ignore them and they will leave. More than that communicate well, and they will sing your praises. As you will see I have mentioned Sandford Orchards and not the Cornish brewer, I like to praise publicly and criticise privately; no internet trolling for me.
Rapid and effective communication with customers is even more important when things go wrong. I started a Mindful Chef recipe box subscription during lockdown as a little treat. I chose that particular company because it has a good vegan range and because they are a B Corp (an ethical and environmental standard), so their values are aligned with mine. I’ve loved the food and everything about the company, I no longer see it as a treat but a permanent part of my life. I’m so impressed that I have joined the Mindful Chef Facebook community (the only brand that I have done that with). Most of the posts on there are about how well the dishes have turned out and how much people have enjoyed cooking them. Occasionally there is a post about something going wrong and they always follow the same pattern, “I have been with MC for a long time and this is the first thing that has gone wrong, I contacted the company and very quickly got an apology, and the missing ingredient was delivered the following day” or “I received a credit far in excess of the cost of the missing ingredient”. Sometimes they follow up with “I was with xxxxxx and when things went wrong I could never get through to anyone and it took ages to get things resolved that’s why I changed to MC”
The most effective marketing campaign is keeping existing customers and have them singing your praises. Getting the back office stuff and logistics right isn’t as exciting as fancy straplines, amazing graphics and exotic photo shoots, but it does stop your customers leaking away and wasting all that marketing spend.
A final word on logistics. I have been with Mindful Chef for over six months and have a delivery every two weeks. So a lot of deliveries. Not one of those has been late; they have all arrived on the designated day and within the one-hour time slot communicated to me that morning. The deliveries are made by DPD, a carbon neutral firm which pleases me, and I suspect that they are not as cheap as some other delivery firms. A high-street name chain I have bought from online when shops were closed uses one of those cheaper delivery companies. Out of three orders, one was lost and never arrived, one arrived a day after it was supposed to and the other was two days late. Fortunately, due to lockdown I hadn’t stayed in specially to receive those deliveries, I was at home anyway, still it was frustrating, and I have stopped buying from that business. The small amount they saved by using a cheap, unreliable delivery service will be outweighed by the costs of getting a new customer.
If you want to try Mindful Chef use this link. You will get 25% off your first four orders (no commitment) and I get a £10 credit (sweet). If that doesn’t work you can use email@example.com in the discount box.
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