A Lesson on Consumer Delight: Unilever Snaps Up the Deal

I’m a recent victim of a contaminated processed food product in the Philippines, and I find it frustrating that there is no clear system nor information for consumers on how to go about filing a formal complaint with the local Food and Drug Administration. There is an FDA hotline number provided on their website but no one was answering the phone all day yesterday. Today, I sent my written complaint via email to the FDA, I remain hopeful that they will do their duty in protecting my consumer rights. As a passionate advocate for the customer, I cannot just accept that finding a dead insect inside a can of tuna is OK. It is not OK!

If it weren’t for social media, my story would probably be ignored and downplayed as not to be taken seriously. Thanks to social media, I feel reassured that people do care about things like this after all and it strengthened my resolve to do my duty as a consumer — report to authorities and raise awareness for other consumers. It’s only when we all start caring that companies and brands will take consumer protection and consumer rights more seriously.

What made the experience worse for me as a consumer was the lack of effective customer recovery efforts from this company. Instead of reassuring me and the public immediately of their commitment to quality, their delayed response can only result from having no system for customer recovery. They have lost my trust as a consumer, but as a marketing professional, they lost my respect as well. Their company executives are using people personally known to me to communicate their request for me to remove the Facebook post. I find these requests very selfish and inconsiderate of the trauma they have already caused me. I am truly sad that this had to happen because it was a brand I was loyal to for years. A brand I trusted could not be trusted after all.

Coming across this story that’s trending in India at the moment is like a breath of fresh air given what I’m going through now.

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Hindustan Unilever was able to brilliantly use one man’s unfortunate customer experience to promote the goodness of their company. Laxminarayan Krishnamurthy based in Mumbai purchased a Samsung mobile phone on Snapdeal (online store), when the package was delivered to his home, there was no phone inside the box, instead it had a Vim (A Unilever brand) dishwashing bar and a brick.

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Snapdeal initially was not cooperative until Mr. Krishnamurthy‘s  Facebook post on his experience became viral. Snapdeal eventually refunded the customer. But it was Hindustan Unilever’s act of kindness and sheer marketing brilliance, which became the bigger story. Hindustan Unilever sent the customer a brand new Samsung mobile phone and 2 bottles of Vim Dishwashing liquid. Now, this is what I call commitment to the brand. I love the statement from Hindustan Unilever:

“Inadvertently our brand Vim became a part of a negative consumer experience. We not only realised the need for a positive engagement with the consumer but also saw this as an opportunity for creating a delightful brand experience for the consumer. It is heartening to know that our gesture has been appreciated by the consumer.”

Hindustan-Unilever

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Hurray for the customer!

Images courtesy: Laxminarayan Krishnamurthy’s Facebook Page & Hindustan Unilever Ltd.

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