Tesco’s ‘cucumber exchange’ raises the bar for complaint handing

12th Aug 2016

A Tesco customer service representative has shown that a little ingenuity when responding to complaints can go a long way. 

Rob from Tesco’s Customer Care department shot to social media fame this week, following his well-considered response to a customer’s complaint on Facebook. 

Tesco customer Wes Metcalfe posted an image of what he claimed was a worm within the wrapping of a cucumber he had purchased from the well-known supermarket chain. His accompanying message read: “I excitedly shouted the kids downstairs to come and meet our new pet. We decided to name him William. Our new pet appeared to be very unresponsive; we just put it down to him being sleepy and decided to give him sometime to come round...”

However, Wes soon discovered that the worm was dead. “I now have three very upset children, a worm funeral to plan, and to top it all off I've totally lost my taste for cucumber sandwiches – which, as everyone knows, are a favourite at any wake,” he wrote. “So, come on Tesco, wiggle your way out of this one!”

In response, Rob composed an ‘ode to William’ that struck a chord with customers, leading to 90,000 likes and more than 45,000 shares on Facebook:   

“Although life takes funny old turns, we can all learn from William the Worm. 

Let us gather, light a candle to burn, and celebrate the life of William the Worm.

“Lights shine bright; let’s eat sponge cake through the night! Because there’s many a lesson to learn.

He wriggled many miles; he have us many smiles, so we stand today confident and firm…

“William will be back, very much like Arnie, though now we will all check, before we make a sarnie!”

The ode concluded with the hashtag ‘#PoemsForWilliam’, which has since gone viral. 

The exchange continued with a series of poems and a reinterpretation of ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis, which Rob re-dubbed ‘Wonder worm’. 

This interaction not only shows the significance of empathising with customers and tailoring responses to each individual, but also the importance of getting it right first time. It confirms that social media is both a channel for customers to register complaints, and a visible forum that determines how well organisations handle complaints.

The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) produced by the Institute of Customer Service suggests interactions that resolve complaints quickly and effectively attract much higher levels of customer satisfaction than those that require the organisation, or the customer, to take follow-up action. In fact, according to the Institute’s Handle with care report, one in three customers expect an immediate resolution to their complaints.

The UKCSI reveals that one of the key differentiators of the overall top 50 UKCSI-rated organisations is their ability to achieve high levels of satisfaction when it comes to handling complaints. It could be that an ode is all it takes…

Click here to download our UKCSI executive summary and here to read the full exchange between Rob and Wes.   

Share this