The other day, we got an interesting pre-recorded message on our phone. It was from Clif Bar, notifying us of their voluntary recall of certain Luna Bars that potentially have peanut butter in them that came from the same processor responsible for the current salmonella outbreak.
The message said they called us because we were Costco members, and that we’d bought the affected products. A friend of ours got a similar call, also because his family are Costco members, too.
Here’s what I find most interesting. Just the week before, I’d bought a case of Clif Bars that fell into the recalled batch… from BJ’s.
Did I get a call from BJ’s? No.
Did I get a call from any other manufacturer about their possibly contaminated products? No.
Recalls are touchy things. They can make or break a company. Marketing professors use the 1982 Tylenol recall as a case study of how to manage a crisis and turn a potential customer service nightmare into a brand building triumph. It cost them over $100 million dollars to recall 31 million bottles of Tylenol, but in the long run it saved the brand, and possibly the company, Johnson & Johnson, for whom it represented 17% of net income. The International Herald Tribune has a good article about it here.
I’ve had other things recalled — most recently, my daughter’s toys being recalled for lead contamination comes to mind. But I never received a call from the company — I had to find out about it myself online after hearing the news stories.
What Costco did is good customer service. And Costco and Clif Bar have raised the bar (no pun intended.)
In the rivalry between Costco and BJ’s to win my business, who do you think just gained the lead? Given similarities in pricing and selection, what else is there to help set these two big box wholesalers apart except service?
I can’t imagine there’s much of a difference in the way they track customer data. They both swipe my membership card before they ring up my orders. BJ’s must have known that I bought the contaminated bars.
So can someone please explain to me, not why Costco called, but why BJ’s didn’t?
PS. Shameless promotion follows…
I just finished another dark and twisted collaboration with my friend, the extremely talented illustrator, Viktor Koen. As some of you may know, we worked together on Lexicon: Words and Images of Strange (AtticChild Press, 1996).
Our new collaboration is Toyphabet. You can read more about it here. But for those of you going to New York Comicon next week, I wanted to let you know that TOYPHABET is a limited edition book made specially for the 2OO9 New York Comic Con and is carried exclusively by Baby Tattoo Books at booth#1622.