to a smart aleck (namely, me)
If you haven’t figured out that I’m a smart aleck, you are a new reader. (Welcome to the RESPONSE Agency blog, by the way.)
I recently dashed off a tongue-in-cheek letter of pseudo-complaint to Cracker Barrel, whose restaurants rank high among my many weaknesses. They did a number of things well:
- They replied.
- They replied promptly.
- They avoided typical corporate blither (like, “…sorry your experience wasn’t superb…we always strive to maintain blah blah blah...enclosed is a coupon for a free french fry…”).
- They addressed my specific complaint. For all I know, they have a standard letter for it. Fine. At least I could tell that someone at Cracker Barrel took the time to read and understand what I wrote. That’s called validating the customer.
- They apologized.
- They explained what was going on.
- They didn’t try to tell me I was wrong.
- Though I hoped for an equally tongue-in-cheek reply, they played it straight. That was probably wise. Out of context, humor is easily misinterpreted. I mean, for all they know, I am the sort of person who would post their reply online.
Here is my letter, followed by Cracker Barrel’s reply:
Dear Cracker Barrel:
No complaints about the service, facility or food.
Except for one thing. One really BIG thing.
(Did I mention it’s big?)
I just discovered that you no longer serve 100% pure maple syrup.
With that single change, Cracker Barrel, once the last bastion of breakfast places where I didn’t have to pack in my own syrup, has tumbled from the acme of my good graces.
You have no idea the personal trauma you have caused me. As I write, I stand atop my desk, ready to plunge to my doom on the carpet some 30 inches below. Oh, wait. I’m sitting at the computer. But maybe I’ll climb atop the desk after I press SUBMIT. You never know.
No self-respecting connoisseur abides adulterated syrup. I plead with you to correct this heinous travesty. Return to your prior steadfastness in holding to serving the real stuff.
Should you care to respond and I don’t reply, chances are I have been confined to a psych ward and denied computer access. You have only yourselves to blame.
Here is Cracker Barrel’s reply:
Dear Mr. Cuno,
Thank you so much for contacting us. We are always glad to hear from our guests.
I apologize for your disappointment with our switching to a maple syrup blend from our 100% maple syrup. We have always prided ourselves on serving the best quality syrup we could find and still do however due to circumstances out of our control, we can not serve the 100% maple syrup at this time.
We do hope this elimination is temporary. With recent weather changes and drier climates, there is a nationwide shortage in the production of maple syrup. There just isn’t enough being harvested to meet the demand required to serve 100% syrup. Some grocery chains are still able to sell 100% maple syrup however the price has increased substantially.
At Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, we decided instead of raising our prices and still having the potential to run out, we began searching for an alternative. After several focus group surveys, our guests picked the blend they thought most like our 100% syrup.
Again, we are certainly hopeful for better harvests next season so that we can once again serve you the 100% maple syrup everyone likes so much.
We look forward to having the opportunity to serve you again soon.
Guest Relations Representative
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc.