They did produce some change

When companies receive customer inquiries, they have three basic communication options: 1. Ignore it, 2. Auto-respond, 3. Converse/engage.

We’ve experienced all of these as consumers, and equally so here as dadmarketing employees.

Ignoring the customer contact is the peculiar, and unfortunately all-too-often, approach. Many of us make contact with businesses quite frequently, sometimes without even realizing it, and it’s so often we never hear a thing. That’s troubling for those of us as customers, and potentially terminal for the company. Look at it this way: do you like being ignored by family, friends or co-workers?

Auto-responses can certainly serve their purpose. Sometimes it’s nice to know the company received our email when we send it at 6 a.m. At the same time, the company isn’t fooling anyone; auto-responses feel distant, robotic and forced at times, leaving customers to feel like numbers. It makes the business feel like they’re all about busyness.

Those companies who invest in people, however, and choose to converse and engage with its customers truly get it. Sure, it costs more to devote precious dollars to one-on-one interaction, but it’s totally worth it. Finding that level of interaction is rare, but it’s what separates the companies who care, from the ones who could care less.

On Wednesday we received our regular email newsletter from Produce For Kids, a web resource created in 2002 by Shuman Produce, Inc., who grows and ships Vidalia sweet onions. Its website, produceforkids.com, is dedicated to educating families on the benefits of healthy eating, providing simple meal solutions and raising money for children’s non-profit organizations.

The email newsletter, however, carried a headline that troubled us: “10 Kitchen Staples Every Mom Needs.” We immediately wrote about it, and tweeted Produce For Kids about our post.

Guess what happened?

They listened. They responded. We conversed. They made something wrong, right.produceforkids2

In fact, they made the edit to the headline and photo graphic in a matter of minutes, something completely unheard of in a world of marketing that loves to exclude fathers from messages. Usually that kind of change, simple as it is, must swim through a lot of red tape and organizational bureaucracy.

Cheerios is another story who turned around something negative into something positive, but that quest took several months.

Produce For Kids turned righted the ship over the lunch hour.

For an organization whose efforts revolve around food, produce, shopping, kitchens – it would be easy for it to fall into the dad-exclusionary trap and squarely ignore fathers like so many other businesses and organizations in the same arena. Instead, they have been one of the more stand-up groups, not using a slogan as mere lip service, but rather living by it. Check out its “About Us” page: it could have employed the stereotypical mom-child-kitchen photo, but it didn’t – they gave dads their due.

Here’s to Produce For Kids and its dedicated work at including everyone in the family in its mission — you have dadmarketing’s highest Seal of Approval.

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