Ten Years Of ... The Cheese Shed & Its Customers
I spent a really pleasant hour or so the other day updating the customer feedback on the site - ' pleasant' because we do get a lot of very positive comments, and on that page - headed 'what our customers say' -you can read feedback going all the way back to 2010. Do take a look: it's a great source of pride to us that so many people have taken the trouble to write such nice things.
As I read through them, it occurred to me that this area - customer service - is one we can be proud of, and ought to trumpet! Up to now, customer service is something we've done ... but never spoken about, despite there being a pretty clear philosophy involved. So what the hell? Here goes ...
Deal With People In A Friendly, Human Way
If you email or call us for more information, or work out how you can what you want from us, or want to make some changes to an order ... we always try to be friendly and helpful. That's good for our customers, but for us too - after all, a bit of positive human interaction is a nice thing, particularly when you're remote from your customers like we are.
I hope our customers think that can trust us! At any rate, I'm fairly sure that where people have rung or emailed us (and discovered there are some real human beings here) ... they do probably think that, having got beyond the website and spoken to someone. From our side, trust means: if you tell us there's a problem ... that's good enough. In the event of a problem, we don't need to see photos of damaged boxes or anything like that - we're happy to take your word for it. Which leads me onto ...
How We Deal With Problems
Things do go wrong from time to time. Sometimes we make a mistake - an out-of-date cheese goes into a box, or there's something left out, maybe a cheese is a bit 'light'. We try to be careful but the odd slip-up happens. Sometimes there's a delivery problem: APC are great but, as I always say, no delivery system is ever 100%.
When things do go wrong we deal with it very simply. First, we apologise (and - where it's a delivery issue, we never make excuses or try and pass the buck). Then: we'll see how you would like to resolve the situation in a way that feels fair. Usually that's going to mean a replacement or a refund of some sort. A good result is one in which you feel we've done our best to sort things out - and we can usually achieve that. Then you feel fairly treated, and we feel happy - and that's a good result all round!
It would be wrong for me to suggest that we can resolve every problem. But if there's one we can't solve - and if a customer is still disappointed - it'll never be because we haven't done our very best at this end.
Why We Don't Have Any 'Terms & Conditions'
To me as a consumer, those vast 'Terms & Conditions' feel like a bit of a farce. You're required to tick a box to say you've read them - but I certainly don't. Does anyone? I doubt it: life is much too short. So it feels like a formality with little meaning ... but of course you suspect there may be things in there that the company might use to 'cover themselves' if something went wrong.
But we emphatically do not want to be the sort of business that will rely on the 'small print' to save a few bob. Hence: no small print, no Terms & Conditions. Because if - as a business - you have to rely on them to solve your problems, you've come off the rails.
So To Sum Up ...
... we'd like to think our relationships with customers are human, based around friendliness, fairness and trust. Yes, I do know that sounds a bit pious! But the thing is that business isn't always trusted - and I'm afraid it doesn't always deserve to be.
At a moment when it can often seem like there are a lot of negative and destructive attitudes around - not just in business but in society more generally - all we can do is to try and 'do our bit'. We'll keep on trying.