‘Customer service’ – a phrase that should be integrated into any business but one which, sadly, all too often strikes a note of disinterest, disengagement and dissatisfaction with many consumers…unless of course you like holding on the phone for a decade to talk to a surname-less individual somewhere else in the world, whose computer says No and just can’t be bovered, despite being so keen to ask if there is anything else that they can do for you today…anything else?…you haven’t even sorted out the first problem yet.

Anyway, here’s an example of customer service from Tesco that sets out how it can be done.

About 3 weeks ago, one of our team bought a bottle of wine from Tesco – a long day at work warranted a little self indulgence!  Upon opening it later, it didn’t taste right, certainly not like that particular burgundy should.  So we took it back to the store and spoke to the customer services desk in the store.  The member of staff apologised and refunded the money.  She also took down our name & address and said that she would send the bottle off with a report.  Now, most of us would have been happy with that outcome; the store has refunded our money (it also offered to replace the bottle for another of the same) and something may happen internally within Tesco but, let’s be honest, I’m not leaving the store expecting anything else to happen.

So when a letter arrived on my doormat a couple of days ago, postmarked ‘Cote de Nuits, France’ my curiosity was certainly raised.  Inside was a letter from the winemaker; addressed, written and signed personally by someone senior within the business.  Written in excellent English it apologised that their usual high standards of winemaking hadn’t  – on this occasion – translated through to an excellent bottle of wine.  Yes, someone apologising that one individual bottle from tens of thousands produced wasn’t up to standard.  It offered some practical reasons why the wine may have been sub-standard, particularly to do with its storage between leaving the winemaker and being picked off the shelf in the supermarket.   Finally, it extended an open offer to tour their winery if I was ever in the area.  The whole tone of the letter was sincere, kind and caring.

Wow.  Not only has the message been communicated internally within Tesco as the retailer and then externally to the manufacturer but also the manufacturer has taken the time & effort to address the cause of the complaint.

The actual cost of the bottle was £16.99 but you would have thought I’d spent 100x that amount by the letter.  Now, it says two things;

• The winemaker takes their quality control very seriously and is passionate about wine.

• Tesco has effective policies in place in terms of selecting its suppliers and maintaining relationships with them.

So, Tesco, we salute your customer service and would suggest that this example is a shining beacon of excellence that shows how to deliver outstanding individual customer service..

Couldn’t resist this video from Tesco – August 2007! (All links open in a new window.)