Pret: insight from consumer feedback

You probably capture consumer feedback on your brand, through the web, phone and snail-mail. But do you genuinely see it as 1) A valuable source of insight? or, 2) More a pain-in-the-neck flow of moans and groans from pissed off punters?

Well, the UK fresh sandwich claim Pret a Manger clearly fall into the first camp, based on the cup of delicious fresh soup I had the other day. This is the note from the CEO I read on the side of the cup:

"A while ago, a consumer phoned me to say our soup was good buy not amazing. The gauntlet was down.

I tracked down and engaged (full time) the UK’s premier soup guru and cook book writer, Nick Sandler. Together we changed our recipes, our stock, our ingredients and cooking methods. We took on and trained new soup chefs.

Thank you to that lady who called (Sorry but I’ve lost your number). If you’re reading this, I hope you agree we rose to the challenge. Do let me know what you think, and thanks again.
Signed, Julian Metcalfe"

This is bloody brilliant at several levels:

  1. Its a great example of Pret’s mastery at generating free advertising, by using cups and napkins as media channels.
  2. Rather than saying "we care for our customers blah blah blah", this an action that demonstrates this commitment. They listen, and they act. 
  3. It also shows a true commitment to quality. They don’t just say "Here’s a new improved soup". They hired full time the UK’s premier soup guru. Now that’s what I call "sausage": a real functional product truth and benefit.
  4. The note is from the CEO, one of many examples of the commitment to quality and customer service right from the top.
  5. The informal, personal tone of voice adds the classic Pret "sizzle".

5 minute workout: what are you personally doing to use consumer feedback as a source of insight? Do you have a process to pick out the insight nuggets and use them as a catalyst for innovation?