Getting fresh: Let's talk service
As William Dean Brown, founder and chief chocolatier of William Dean Chocolates remarked in the Oct. issue of Candy Industry in our Candy Wrapper section concerning pet peeves, there’s nothing worse that “…poor customer service. It costs nothing to give great customer service, but to repair the damage of poor customer service can be very expensive.”
Recently, I had the occasion to experience the lack of and/or poor customer service across a variety of industries. Given that I’ve expressed my disappointment to the companies directly, I’m not going to mention their names unless specifically asked. All I can say is that I have dashed off some very interesting e-mails lately, all of them pointing out operational deficiencies.
In effect, although I was critical, the constructive barbs were aimed at actually helping their businesses. And I recognize that the economy has placed a strain on all of us in doing our jobs properly. Nevertheless, in my mind of thinking, if you want to stay in business, or at least earn my business, service me!
Humor me while I go on to provide you with an example. Several weeks ago, godmother’s husband passed away. Luckily, my wife and I had the occasion to visit her and her husband the earlier in the year for their 50th wedding anniversary. Since my godmother lives in France, about 150 kilometers south of Paris, it wasn’t the simplest of jaunts. It was, however, a really festive time and we all enjoyed the celebration. As someone once said, “Cherish the living before you bury the dead.”
Last month, we were informed about a turn for the worse in his health, which eventually led to his death. Upon hearing the news, I thought it appropriate to send flowers from our family here in Chicago. Going to the Internet, I came across a floral company that had international aspirations. Having ordered a fairly pricey funeral arrangement, I clicked and received word that the order had been received, but that I’d need to confirm my credit card. The company indicated that it would call to do so.
Ah, one small detail. I did this Sunday evening, the funeral was Wednesday afternoon. Well, I went to bed on Sunday, thinking everything should be OK, given that a florist in France would receive my order sometime Monday morning, and that the flowers would probably arrive at the house Tuesday sometime. Not so fast. After receiving word that my credit card hadn’t been verified to process the order on Monday, I spent the next day and a half trying to make this happen. No, it wasn’t every waking minute, but a pain in the derriere nonetheless. Despite the Web site touting 24-hour access in London and the United States, I was only able to finally confirm the order via a chat room on the Web site.
Luckily, the flowers did arrive at my godmother’s home only a few hours before the funeral ceremony began. After trying to write a lengthy e-mail to the owner via the Web site, which the site wouldn’t allow me to complete, I sent off a nasty e-mail complaining about the various difficulties I encountered in placing and confirming an order.
In the end, the company thanked me for pointing out its shortcoming, offering a $10 discount on my next order. Guess what, that’s not going to happen. When a company’s 24-hour access telephones don’t connect with anyone, with Web site functions fail to work, and when time is a factor, frustration builds. Internet sales offer candymakers and chocolatiers a great opportunity to boost the bottom line and build volume. But please, oh please, make sure everything works properly.
Otherwise, it’s a case of a final order. One can’t build loyalty with lacksidaisical service.
Oh, and I have a few more examples to tell you, but this column is running long as it is. They involve - and now here’s a surprise - a bank, an airline, an insurance claims process, and yes, even a candy company.
But those are for another occasion. Besides, with Halloween right around the corner, there’s no need for yet another scary customer service story. I have a feeling all of us have ample examples to share.
Just remember, treat the customer, don’t trick him.
Standard Candy Relaunches Goo Goo Cluster
Standard Candy Co. of Nashville, Tenn., will relaunch its famed Goo Goo Cluster brand with an enhanced logo mark, new packaging, new gift packs and point-of-purchase displays in early 2011. In addition, the company is developing a new online presence, which will launch in January 2011.
Goo Goo Clusters, which was invented by Standard Candy Co.’s founder Howell Campbell in 1912, features caramel, marshmallow, peanuts and milk chocolate and is considered to be America’s first multi-ingredient confection.
Executive Vice President Lance Paine, who joined the company in the summer of 2010 after spending the previous five years as a co-founder and president of SLJ Desserts, is charged with revitalizing the brand.
“We have worked with our Standard Candy Co. team to implement a more premium chocolate [for Goo Goo Cluster] and other value-based ingredients, which will allow for positioning the heritage confection in the prepared food section of national chain retailers and mom-and-pop stores as well as the ubiquitous candy aisle,” he says.
“As part of the candy’s evolution, we believe that the improved Goo Goo Cluster ingredient composition increases the value of the candy while continuing to deliver the nostalgic comforts associated with Goo Goos to the tastebuds of our loyal customers.”
Standard Candy Co. sells 10 to 12 million Goo Goo Clusters annually, and has invested more than $15 million in equipment and facilities in the past five years. F
or more information, visit www.googoo.com.
ProSweets Will Debut Flavors Conference at ISM
Although there will not be any ProSweets exhibit during the upcoming International Sweets and Biscuits Fair (ISM), which will be held in Cologne Jan. 30 – Feb. 1 next year, organizers have scheduled the first topic-specific conference during the famed confectionery exposition.
The conference, which will focus on flavoring technologies and consumer preferences in the confectionery industry, will kick off at 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 1, in Koelnmesse’s Congress Centre East, immediately adjacent to the ISM fair.
The ProSweets Cologne Conference, which is being organized in cooperation with Koelnmesse GmbH by FachInform GmbH, the publisher of the trade magazine FOOD DESIGN, will examine the use of flavorings as one of the decisive factors in the manufacturing and marketing of confectionery and snack items.
Presentations by a host of experts will provide product developers, decision makers and specialist quality management and manufacturing employees an ideal opportunity to obtain concise information on the latest trends and research results in confectionery flavor developments. Participation in the conference, which will be held exclusively in English, costs €299 (plus VAT) and includes admission to ISM.
Some of the presentations scheduled for the conference include: "How the confectionery color matrix influences flavor perception,"by Rikke Sakstrup Frandsen (TBC), manager ITC, NEE & Global Expertise Chr. Hansen A/S; "Which flavor delivery technology for which purpose?," by Andrew Morrison, Givaudan; "Masking of unsavory or bitter flavors," by Christian Sobolta, sales director, Firmenich GmbH; "Combining flavors," by Markus Weiher, head of business development & sales, Curt Georgi GmbH & Co. KG; "Learning from the past: Which flavors stay in the long run and which turn out to be a flash in the pan?" by Claudia and Wolfgang Holley, FOOD DESIGN - FachInform GmbH; "Product scouting: Flavoring concepts from selected countries worldwide," by Lu Ann Williams, head of research, Innova Market Insights, "Natural flavors - which are the options?" by Hélène Möller, product manager – ingredients, WILD Flavors Berlin GmbH & Co. KG; "Be natural - The new EC flavoring regulation and consumer perception," by Jeanette Moree, marketing manager, global business unit – sweet, Symrise; and "Gazing into the future" by Claudia and Wolfgang Holley, Wolfgang Holley, FOOD DESIGN - FachInform GmbH.
Hans Becher to Head-Up Seasonal Sales for Ferrara Pan
Forest Park, Ill.-based Ferrara Pan Candy Co., has appointed Hans Becher as its vice president of seasonal sales. Becher, a confectionery industry veteran, started his career at Pathmark in 1974. He joined E. J. Brach in 1979, then moved to Stark/Necco Confections in 1988 where he served as vice president of sales and marketing.
Becher received the NCBA’s Silver Candy Dish in 1997 and was inducted into the Candy Hall of Fame in 2000.
"Hans will be joining an elite group of long-time candy personalities, most of whom he has worked with in the past," says Salvatore Ferrara, president and ceo of Ferrara Pan Candy. "He is a tremendous addition to this experience staff. We look forward to ensuring that this is the last stop in his candy career."
Ferrara Pan’s vice president of sales, Stephen McMichael, notes that Becher has been a friend of his for the past 25 years.
"There continues to be many growth opportunities for Ferrara Pan Candy Co., but without the key personnel of Hans’ caliber, these opportunities cannot be maximized," he adds. "Our success with competitively priced quality confections is obtained through professionalism, follow-through and communication. I am extremely pleased and honored to now also call Hans a business associate."
For more information, visit www.ferrarapan.com.
Scaring Up Stats about Halloween
The U.S. Census Bureau has compiled some not-so-scary statistics about Halloween, an American tradition that dates back to Celtic rituals thousands of years ago. Although custom and rituals have changed, the government agency points out that many continue to this day, from trick or treating and carving pumpkins to visiting haunted houses and holding parties.
First, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there were a potential 36 million children between the ages of 5 to 13 who could have come knocking on doors last year. This number is up about 190,000 from a year earlier. Of course, many other children - older than 13, and younger than 5 - also go trick-or-treating.
Those same children had 111.3 million "occupied housing units" to collect candy from in 2009. "Let’s go to that house, they give out the good stuff" designations were not included in the housing units survey.
Another important statistic, 92% of households with residents consider their neighborhood safe. In addition, 78% said there was no place within a mile of their homes where they would be afraid to walk alone at night.
To help produce all that candy given out to trick-or-treaters, the government says there were 1,317 manufacturers turning out chocolate and cocoa products in 2008, employing 38,369 people. Seems chocolatiers prefer living in California as it had the most chocolate and cocoa companies base there, 146, followed by Pennsylvania, with 115.
As to non-chocolate confections, there were 422 companies doing so in 2008, employing 16,860 people. California again led the nation in this category, with 47 establishments.
Finally, per capita consumption of candy by Americans reached 24.3 lbs. in 2009.
For additional information, visit www.census.gov.
sweet of the week: Corazonas Oatmeal Squares
Made with plant sterols and all-natural ingredients by Los Angeles-based Corazonas Foods, Inc., Corazonas Oatmeal Squares are designed to help lower cholesterol. Plus, each bar offers 5 g. of fiber, 16 g. of whole grains and 6 g. of protein. They come in Chocolate Chip, Banana Walnut, Cranberry Flax, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Brownie & Almonds flavors and have a S.R.P. of $1.29 for a 1.76-oz. bar.
For more information, visit www.corazonas.com.