Look Behind The Customer Numbers
Last year when I attended Innocent's first AGM, there was a lot of heated discussion about their test-marketing smoothies within McDonald's outlets. This was an act that certain evangelistic customers seemed to feel was a betrayal of their ethical principles.
Thus, at Innocent's second AGM this weekend, there was an expectation of a lot of dissent regarding the recent sale of a slice of the business to Coca Cola. That it didn't really materialise was a reminder that noise does not equate to strength of feeling. Later, in discussion with one of the founders, it emerged that they had received 260 complaints. For a compamy with sales of 100 million smoothies a year, that's a very small number.
I've always said that to create a great product/service, it's imperative to focus on eliminating annoyances for your customers, but you also have to keep the numbers in perspective. It's what lies behind them that counts - as evidenced by another number that I discovered. Specifically that, on their ninth birthday, 38 customers chose of their own volition to send birthday cakes to the company.
260 complaints versus 38 birthday cakes. I know which number I find more compelling.