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How to reply to a customer who complained about a few pieces of glass found in our product?


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#1 carine

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Posted 03 February 2020 - 04:04 AM

Dear all, 

 

We are produce  ice for drink-chilling. Lately,   we have been received complaint from customer who operate a cafeteria had found few piece of glasses in their customer-served cup, thereafter they concluded that the glass pieces originate from us. We had launch an investigation on it, there is unlikely to have glass pieces in our production, as there is no glass equipment was used and the specimen of glass pieces not found in our production. Nevertheless, customer insisted we should have corrective and preventive action on it. 

 

If you were in my shoes, i'm wondering how you all reply to customer in amicably manner.     



#2 sameernics

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Posted 03 February 2020 - 06:06 AM

Well, if you are double sure that the glass piece is not from your factory, then I think....

1. you can still formally register the complaint (remember customer is king and don't want to damage the relationship and you wanna convince him that it is not from your factory) 

2. Respond to the customer by apologising for the incident and at the same time indicate that you are surprised for the complaint and assure to get back with an investigation

3. Now mention that you have convened an urgent meeting with your team and did a thorough root cause analysis and nothing abnormal has been detected

4. To support your investigation further, mention that you have reviewed all the current control measures for the foreign objects

5. Mention about your glass policy that is implemented in your factory and how do you monitor/manage the glass in the factory

6. Support your investigation further with training programs that are in place for glass policy and control of foreign objects  

7. Prove that the piece that the customer found does not match with the kind of glass you have in your factory

8. Put everything in your formal response to your customer

9. Attach all supporting evidences to your formal response (i prefer pictures - pictures are better than 1000 words)

10. At the end of your formal response, you may invite the customer to your factory for an audit or visit to convince the customer of your robust controls.

 

Hope it helps. Thanks.



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#3 Charles.C

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Posted 03 February 2020 - 02:02 PM

Dear all, 

 

We are produce  ice for drink-chilling. Lately,   we have been received complaint from customer who operate a cafeteria had found few piece of glasses in their customer-served cup, thereafter they concluded that the glass pieces originate from us. We had launch an investigation on it, there is unlikely to have glass pieces in our production, as there is no glass equipment was used and the specimen of glass pieces not found in our production. Nevertheless, customer insisted we should have corrective and preventive action on it. 

 

If you were in my shoes, i'm wondering how you all reply to customer in amicably manner.     

 

Step 1 - Request some evidence.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#4 zanorias

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Posted 03 February 2020 - 03:30 PM

Your customer investigating and concluding that the FB came from you - rather than concluding it is unlikely to come from their own kitchen and therefore potentially one of their suppliers - would lead me to believe they must have some substantial evidence to make that conclusion and rule out other options. As Charles notes, I would request this ("to aid our investigation"). Meanwhile, collate all your relevant evidence and summarise in a formal response letter to the customer. I wouldn't send out the evidence with the response letter, but be prepared that the customer may ask to see some. If your investigation is thorough and concludes that the FB is very unlikely to have originated from your products because of XYZ then say just that, in a professional way of course. 

 

I'd also keep an open mind to the possibility of contamination through your raw material and include this in the investigation.



#5 carine

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 02:39 AM

Dear Zanorais, 

 

Customer is always the "King" , they didnt  provide much info about the foreign object, and wanna safeguarded themselves  just insisted that  the foreign object is originate from us. We are in dilemma now, if we confront them it will damage the relationship, or else we had to admitted the fault from us and this may affect company reputation  

Your customer investigating and concluding that the FB came from you - rather than concluding it is unlikely to come from their own kitchen and therefore potentially one of their suppliers - would lead me to believe they must have some substantial evidence to make that conclusion and rule out other options. As Charles notes, I would request this ("to aid our investigation"). Meanwhile, collate all your relevant evidence and summarise in a formal response letter to the customer. I wouldn't send out the evidence with the response letter, but be prepared that the customer may ask to see some. If your investigation is thorough and concludes that the FB is very unlikely to have originated from your products because of XYZ then say just that, in a professional way of course. 

 

I'd also keep an open mind to the possibility of contamination through your raw material and include this in the investigation.



#6 zanorias

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 06:55 AM

Customer is always the "King" , they didnt  provide much info about the foreign object, and wanna safeguarded themselves  just insisted that  the foreign object is originate from us. We are in dilemma now, if we confront them it will damage the relationship, or else we had to admitted the fault from us and this may affect company reputation  

 

I respectfully disagree; keeping commercial business is of course important and if this were a different complaint I may 'agree' with the customer for that purpose. However with a glass foreign body I think food safety trumps and communicating false findings from your investigation could potentially land you in trouble if it happens again.

 

If the customer genuinely believes the glass is from your product then yes it won't look great on your reputation, but if you investigate efficiently and thoroughly, respond professionally and humbly mentioning any preventive measures you are implementing then I would be surprised if it goes further than that.

 

It's important not to assume the following is the case and a full investigation should be priority, but I'd also keep in mind that the customer may already believe the glass didn't come from you. Concerning as it is, I've seen myself a customer send the same complaint to multiple suppliers accusing them all of being the origin of the FB, simply because the customer didn't know which one (if any) it could have come from. All suppliers were sent a charge too  <_< If this is the case and you admit liability (that goes against yours and theirs evidence) then that isn't going to look great either - the customer would think either you haven't investigated properly, or that you're agreeing with them to keep them happy and thus they may feel it's easier to put the blame again on you in the future, or even raise concerns with them that you might have found potential for contamination from your investigation - what else could be affected? Plus if the customer insists it is form you but doesn't have much info then it looks a bit dodgy, especially as you note - they will want to safeguard themselves.

 

I appreciate it's a tricky situation but personally I'd be honest - at the end of the day a person has had glass in their food. That needs to be address whereever along the line it happened and I believe honest investigation and communication will hep achieve that. Falsely admitting liability may move focus away from the real source of contamination and it may re-occur. So, I would concluded the findings (don't accuse the customer, just focus on your investigation on your site/product) and mention any extra measures as a precaution.


Edited by zanorias, 04 February 2020 - 06:57 AM.


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#7 pHruit

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 09:27 AM

Nice post, Zanorias :thumbup:

 

@Carine

There is an art to responding to these types of issue and not accepting liability, whilst also sounding placatory and avoiding making any overt implications that the customer is actually at fault. It takes some practice though.

It's a few years since I've done anything with direct foodservice customers but IMEX they can be just as difficult as retail - you potentially replace the "I'm going to fabricate a complaint because I want some free stuff" potential with "I'm going to blame the supplier because I don't want my bar/café/restaurant to be responsible for this issue" ;)

 

In this type of situation I find it difficult to avoid thinking about the probabilities of the issue. You are a manufacturing site with very limited / no glass, and that which you do have is (presumably) controlled, checked etc. Contrast that with a café where there is lots of glass, almost certainly no register / routine inspection, and if it's anything like any of the various places I worked as an undergrad then glass breakage isn't all that uncommon. Obviously this type of consideration isn't anything like a replacement for a real investigation, but it's possibly worth bearing in mind...

 

In your specific situation here, the point that Charles made is critical - you need evidence. Without that, even if the glass did come from your site you'd potentially be stumped in terms of actually identifying it. If they can send you the piece(s) then you can have it analysed to at least confirm whether it matches any of the presumably very limited types of glass that you do have on site, otherwise you're not really able to say a great deal on the specific piece in question.  

As for the liability question, I'm not sure where you are in the world but in the UK (and probably the US) I cannot imagine any legal team advising that it is at all sensible to admit liability even when there is a reasonable probability that your business is at fault, and definitely not when this is just to appease a customer and there is no solid evidence that you may be even slightly to blame!

 

For now I'd simply send a letter confirming what checks you've made, outlining the systems and controls that you have in place, and reiterating that you'll be happy to investigate further if they are able to send the item in question.
 



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#8 SQFconsultant

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 04:09 PM

I would not take one pinch of action unless I had the evidence in my possession.


Kind regards,

 

Glenn Oster
 
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#9 QSDA

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 04:51 PM

Several pieces of glass found in one cup and then no more? I think this would be unlikely as your base material would be fairly homogenous and any glass introduced during production would be expected to be spread fairly evenly through a batch, the only other explanation would be sabotage of the individual ice 'cube'.

Most likely source is the cafeteria who will doubtless handle glass etc - I have worked in such places where a breakage is often hidden due to management blame culture






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