Fantastic Customer Service: Ben and Jerry’s

Charlotte and I had a bad pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream a little while back. From my letter:

On about 4-15-09 my girlfriend and I bought a pint of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough at the convenience store at…

We found that it had less chocolate chips and cookie dough than we’ve had in the past. We weren’t very happy with it.

We know that you make a fine product and this was probably an anomaly but we thought you should know.

Thank you…

I included a photo of the ice cream we ate.

Last week I got back this letter.

…and Annie (from the letter) included 2 coupons a free pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a $0.55 coupon off any Ben and Jerry’s product.

This is a fabulous letter. Why? Because it turns a problem into an opportunity for them to make me into a customer for life.

Let me count the ways:

  1. The letter is signed, in ink, from a real person. That makes everything personal.
  2. The first thing Annie did was acknowledge the problem. (I might have opened with a brief apology but their approach works too)
  3. It looks like Annie actually read my letter. She mentioned my problem directly. This wasn’t a form letter.
  4. They made amends, not just with a replacement but a second coupon to ease me back into paying money for ice cream. It’s a  110% guarantee. Nice!
  5. The letterhead shows their excellent branding, the design all the way around the edge of the sheet is fun and welcoming.
  6. She told me that my information was being forwarded to Quality Assurance. This makes me feel like my letter will actually be productive and help them make a better product. Since I obviously care enough to write a letter, I appreciate helping to make the thing I love better.
  7. They put their phone number, web site and mailing address at the bottom. They obviously don’t mind if I call again… the communication channel is open. They like me. They really like me.

This is the kind of stuff I have read about in Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”.

Ben and Jerry’s has great customer service. I should remind you, the reader that Ben and Jerry’s is owned by Unilever, a multi-national conglomerate with 174,000 employees. They are, by some accounts “a big evil corporation”. Well darn it if we don’t need more of them!


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  2. A very nice story. Obviously restores your faith in the big brands. I must dust off the Dale Carnegie – HTWFAIP Book as there are lessons in there that are so durable and will serve any company well wishing to get the reaction they want.

  3. edric Houston says:

    Dear Customer Service,
    I, Cedric Houston and my wife Norma head to Florida every winter. In Zepherhills Florida accross from the Hospital every year is a celebration of Christmas. A christmas tree is placed undecorated representing all our states. Since I live in VT, I have tried to help decorate our”VT” tree with items that best represents VT. I went to Green Moutain Coffee Roasters and recieved numerous generous donations. Proceeded to Cold Hollow Cider and once again recieved many generous donations to put on the tree. The list of Donations recieved it unbelievable to decorate the tree with VT contributions. So I went to Ben and Jerry’s I was given “1” empty Paper Cup…..JUST ONE! I was appalled….I said no thanks. Should I have been grateful? After all our family spends at Ben and Jerry’s yearly one would think you would want something better than one paper cup to represent you and your giant corporation. Thanks for nothing.
    Cedric Houston
    238 Cathy Rd
    Cabot VT

  4. lee says:

    Edric, you -do- realize that I am not Ben and Jerry’s, right? I think you should write to the company properly. Make sure to include the address of the Ben and Jerry’s store you were rebuffed at.

    What what you write, it sounds like there was some miscommunication between you and the manager. For instance, would you have been appeased if you had gotten 2 cups? Or….. I don’t know. What kinds of donations might have been appropriate?

    Write to Ben and Jerry’s and tell us here what they write back. I’d love to see both your letter and their return letter.

  5. victoria Tijerina says:

    Lastnight my boyfriend and I went to walmart and got some ben and jerrys strawberry cheesecake icecream and I had it once before and loved it I usually get your cherry garcia but I wanted something different when I got my icecream home the icecream was frozen but it smelled like rotten cottage cheese yuck

  6. lee says:

    You realize that I am neither Ben nor Jerry, yes?

  7. philip goldman says:

    Your chocolate ice cream is the best in the world, BUT it is never available at the tops locations in western NY state where I shop. Whoever orders for this area, is not ordering nearly enough of the chocolate flavor and too many of the odd flavors. Every tops store I go to, the ben and jerry,s section is a mess, I bet from people looking through it trying to find the chocolate. This will surely fall on deaf ears, all you people care about is money, but think about it, if you stock the shelves correctly your bottom line will improve. If you went to a steak house and they were out of steak but tried to sell you on other exotic meats, that would not sit well with you if you wanted a steak. Well, I want my chocolate ice cream. HELP ME

  8. lee says:

    Philip, it’s not my ice cream. I suggest you follow my lead and write Ben & Jerry’s a letter.

  9. Don says:

    Hi Lee- I wonder if you convinced Edric, Victoria or Philip that you are not Ben or Jerry? Your article itself is actually quite encouraging for the little guy and big corporations. I think if more people took the time to write a pleasant letter referencing their concerns with their current purchase, I suspect they’d be surprised by the company’s response. No company, no matter how big it is needs unhappy/dissatisfied customers. I think the key is to actually “take the time” to write a letter. Certainly the example given in your article demonstrates a letter can go a long way in securing customer satisfaction. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Randy says:

    Nice to hear! Two of my kids worked at Ben and Jerry’s in high school and had a great experience.
    Also, this is typical of the sort of thing that happens here in Vermont. People just seem to take time
    for other people.

  11. Pedro says:

    Hi Lee, great review. I hope you don’t mind me using this example in a small assignment i’m doing in my university. It’s about Ben & Jerry’s communication.

    Cheers from Portugal.

  12. lee says:

    Pedro, no problem at all. Just follow the guidelines of the licensing statement on the right nav bar. Look for the line that says “COPYRIGHT“. I think your professor will be impressed if you do it properly.

  13. Ava Jackier says:

    My husband recently (like yesterday) bought a pint of your ice cream and said it tasted more like yogurt than ice cream. We have had your ice crem many times in the past. The exp date on the package said September 2018.

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