Dear Ben & Jerry’s:
Since your fantastic company was founded in 1978, it has become globally recognized for its social responsibility and innovative business practices. The company’s progressive mentality is what earned your two founders the title of small-business men of the year from the White House in ’88, an honor bestowed to them by none other than Ronald Reagan. The great success of Ben & Jerry’s that lead to a 300 million dollar buy-out by food giant Unilever in 2000 was considered by most not to be a sell-out, but a win for global customers, your Vermont factory workers, and the many causes Ben & Jerry’s supports.
Last week, the British division of your international company announced in an email newsletter would be discontinuing its email marketing effort to concentrate wholely on social media like Facebook and Twitter–an aggressive decision that says a lot about where corporate customer relations is heading. The engaged and active Facebook community you’ve fostered (over 1.3 million strong) is hugely impressive and your effort on Twitter, where you have thousands of followers on numerous accounts, is equally outstanding. There’s one area of the social sphere where we feel you could use some help, however, and that’s in the area of customer feedback.
Your feedback form, accessed from your Contact page, is very traditional and antiquated in comparison to your diligient use of other social engagement tools. The one-way Comments form at benjerry.com allows the user to leave a comment, but does not categorize the comment or allow it to be shared with others. This is a significant missed opportunity in terms of developing stronger community. It’s assumed that the information collected from your Comments page is somehow being used in your decision making, but as to how it’s used isn’t evident to customers. Further, it has to be a challenge for your team to manage this influx of ideas. There’s a better way: leverage the immense value of crowdsourcing with IdeaScale!
A couple of us at IdeaScale have ties to Vermont (Burlington, Mad River Valley) and we’re all huge fans of Ben & Jerry’s. In fact, many of our use cases in our IdeaScale screencast videos involve a fictional company called Bob & Terry’s–a fun homage to our business heros. These personal notes aside, IdeaScale recognizes and shares Ben & Jerry’s interest in listening to the voices of customers. Our effective feedback tool has empowered large and small businesses and organizations and continues to work wonders for product development, customer experience, and employee satisfaction for hundreds of clients. We would love to talk to you at your convenience and commend your UK arm on tolling the death knell of inneffective email marketing.