How do you win over a customer after you’ve just accidentally triggered their mint allergy? M&M’s have figured the answer: lots of apologies and lots of free coupons.
I’m allergic to mint. This is hard to deal with already, since I’ve found very few companies list mint as a potential allergen.
A few months ago, I was eating a bag of plain M&Ms when I came across one that had mint added to it, and it made my mouth numb. Not fun.
I checked the M&Ms website, and they don’t list mint as an allergen, despite making mint-flavored candies. (I think they’re only a holiday/special order thing, but I’m not positive.) So I decided to complain, mostly because of the lack of warning.
I sent in a complaint on their website’s form, and got a reply the next day telling me to call a number. I ended up speaking to a very nice woman (whose name I forget), and she told me all about the process of making the candy and where the mint could have accidentally gotten in, which I found really interesting.
She also apologized about twenty times, and promised to send me some coupons.
A week later I got coupons for $20 worth of M&Ms/Mars candies. This is awesome, as I was only expecting maybe a coupon for a free small bag to replace the one I had (which I’d admitted to eating the whole thing, too).
So M&Ms were already my favorite candy, but this made me love them even more!
The example is simple, even silly, but it perfectly illustrates the basic principles of crisis management and customer service.
1. Apologize big.
2. Make up for what was ruined by giving them a freebie that has actual value, especially value greater than the original item.
3. Move on and get them back as a customer.
M&M/Mars did that and in so doing, turned a bad customer experience into a customer who is even more loyal than they were before.