I want to kick off this blog post by saying thank you to everyone who responded to the Customer Survey. Over 500 of you did and your voice has been well and truly heard and I can assure you that where we can act based on your opinions we will do so.
There was, of course, the small matter of £50 up for grabs in our Prize Draw…but I’ll reveal the winner of that at the end of this post. First, I’d like to present the results.
How did you find us?
By far the most common way our customers find us is via search engine (73%), which is no surprise to us. Far more pleasing is that 14.6% are referred to us by friends, which means we’re doing things right, overall.
Social media plays a big part too, with Facebook (10%), Twitter (1%) and Youtube (1.6%) all introducing new people to American Soda – we love that, as we try to be as active and engaging as possible on social media. If you have any suggestions here, feel free to leave a comment!
Which categories do you buy from most often?
Sweets and chocolate (41.3%) and drinks (29.7%) are by far the most popular products we sell, with food (21.9%) a close third. It seems like our non-food products are not that popular, though we know from experience that stuff like Saran Wrap and Hefty cups do sell when we have them.
This tells us where we need to focus our product buying, as well as where we might need to increase our range and availability. You can rest assured that this is something we’ll be working on based on your feedback.
Unsurprisingly there is a wide range of American food and drink cited as your favourites. The top five mentioned, however, were:
- Root beer
- Mountain Dew
- Reese’s (anything!)
- Lucky Charms
Of course, these are the products we will try to keep in stock as often as possible, but it’s not restricted to these. Level and control of stock is one of the biggest challenges we face and is affected by a number of factors including availability in the US, cashflow, changes in buying patterns and more.
Nevertheless, now you’ve indicated to us which are the most popular, we’ll work hard to keep this available at all times.
Least favourite products?
The top (or bottom??) list of products you have told us you don’t like are as follows (and bear in mind these are personal tastes – we sell a LOT of these anyway!):
- Root beer (proving it’s “Marmite” effect!)
- Anything with peanut butter
- Kool Aid
Based on your feedback, while we of course won’t drop these products as we’re sure they are popular with some, we may stock less of SOME of these in order to make way for increased stock on your favourites and new products we will introduce in the future.
Quality of products
You overwhelmingly told us that the quality of the products is just fine – in fact, you’ve put our minds at ease as this was one of the areas where we were concerned you might not be happy.
In actual fact, you’ve told us that we’re getting it right in our importing practice, so thank you very much for that. We will make sure we always maintain the highest standards here.
Range of products
Again, you seem pleased with our range of products, though we recognise there is always room for more authentic American food and drink that just isn’t available here in the UK and Europe. It’s an area we never stop looking at so while we’re very happy you think our range is strong, we’ll keep on finding new things for you to try.
Price of products
Overall you seem “quite happy” with the price of our products but there’s enough feedback to suggest you’d like things to be a bit cheaper. Hey, who wouldn’t?
We face a number of challenges in setting our prices. First of all, there’s our buying costs, which is massively influenced by the value of the pound versus the dollar, as well as what our suppliers want to charge us in the first place!
Secondly, there is the cost of shipping, which changes pretty regularly. These two things combined mean we don’t know what a bag of Jolly Rancher Hard Candy is going to cost us one week to the next. That means we have to price our stuff at a level where we’re pretty sure we’ll make enough money to stay in business.
Lastly, of course, we need to make enough money to keep our staff in their jobs! That includes our buyers, our warehouse staff and the lovely customer care team that deals with your queries each week, not to leave out the other staff that make our business run as smoothly as possible. Oh, and there’s the lease of the warehouse and all the other costs associated with running a business like ours.
That said, we do always try to keep our prices as low and as competitive as possible. We are not in the business of ripping our customers off and we appreciate that, based on this survey, you recognise that fact. So thank you.
You’ve told us that in general our shipping costs are “ok” but that you’d like them to be lower. Us too! We think that our shipping costs to most of the UK are very reasonable but there are areas of the country and places in Europe that our costs can be quite high – this is simply down to what we get charged based on the number of orders we ship to that location.
We would rather charge the same fee to all locations but it just doesn’t work like that. However, we are always looking at reducing our shipping prices and are in constant contact with our couriers, trying to negotiate lower costs. And when we get them, we pass them straight to you.
We will continue to work hard in this area on your behalf.
The vast majority of you are delighted with the speed in which your orders reach you and this makes us very happy! We do recognise that sometimes orders are delayed or lost by our couriers and we are always driving them to provide a better service on our behalf.
As ever, if you’re disappointed in the speed of our deliveries we urge you to email us or call us (0161 359 3655) and we will get the issues resolved for you.
Quality of Packaging
Again you’ve told us that the quality of our packaging is high. This is an area we are always working on with our warehouse staff and it’s gratifying that those efforts are working.
Please speak to our customer care team if you’re unhappy with a package you have received – we will work to resolve the issue for you. Please note though, we will likely require photographic evidence. This helps us to not only train our warehouse staff to an even higher standard but also to prevent fraud, which does occasionally happen. We do apologise for this slight inconvenience but it is for your benefit too.
Please Note: A rating of three indicates people have never had to contact us via email, phone or social media – that’s around half of all our customers, which means we’re doing a good job overall!
Our customer service is very important to us. It is the area in which we invest the most outside of product. We want to – and believe we do – provide the highest standard of any company providing US food to the UK and Europe.
Speed of Response to Email
Overall you’ve told us that you’re happy with the speed in which we respond to your email queries and complaints, which is very pleasing. Our customer care team works from 8am-4pm, Monday to Friday, responding to your emails throughout the day. Any emails received over the weekend are responded to first thing on a Monday morning, as quickly as possible.
Courtesy on the Phone
Whenever you call us with a query (or complaint!) we want the experience to be as pleasant and as swiftly dealt with as possible. In our survey you indicate that we’re achieving that and that our customer care team is providing an excellent service via the phone.
Rest assured though, this is something we continually look to improve upon.
Speed of Response on Social Media
Facebook and Twitter have become important ways for you to contact us over the years with your questions and complaints and it’s an area we’ve invested in heavily to ensure you receive the same level of service as you would via email or phone – and it seems to be working!
We would prefer it if you email or call us but Facebook and Twitter are an important part of our customer service, so feel free to use those channels if you feel more comfortable with it.
How you think we could improve
A lot of you left some fantastic suggestions on how we could improve and it’s these that will prove most valuable to us as we look to act on your feedback.
The majority of suggestions were directed at packaging issues and shipping costs – so we’ll take a close look at those and look to improve.
Price, of course, was another big thing you’d like us to work on, as was more stock and a wider range. While we can’t promise anything on the former, on the latter two we’re hoping to make some big strides with both better stock availability and by introducing even more stuff to our line up.
Other suggestions were online chat (which we’ll look into, maybe by Facebook Messenger), more offers and competitions (we hear you loud and clear!), hampers (a challenge given the stock issues, but we’ll look into it) and finally a lower spending limit to qualify for free delivery (this is one we may well be able to do!).
Once more I want to thank all of you who took part in our survey for your super-valuable feedback. Hopefully you will see some changes based on this over the next few months.
Oh, I almost forgot…
Your £50 winner is………
Amy Beth Cook of Nuneaton! Congratulations to Amy, pulled randomly from our survey list with no warning whatsoever! 😀
Amy gets a £50 voucher to spend on her favourite American food and drink whenever she feels like it. Awesome.
Of course, if you have any suggestions you can email them in to us at any time, we’re always listening.