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Branding Mishaps: Hokey Pokey Ice Cream Parlours

A few days back, I was at one of the Hokey Pokey Ice cream parlors in Mumbai with my family. Sadly though, the experience of the environment and tastes was too bad for reasons irrelevant to the context of this article (note: I am trying hard to not make this article seem like a product or service review). Fortunately, they had a Feedback form, which itself was drafted in an interesting format. I quickly clicked an image from my Camera to ask experts about it.

Here’s what the feedback form looked like,

Hockey Pokey website: http://www.hokeypokey.in/

Here’s how the discussion has been heading,

Ed Roach:I feel it’s terribly skewed towards the optimistic. There is no fields for dissent. All choices are positive ones. They fail to understand that they can grow from any negatives. Typically if a customer has any bad experiences they vote with their feet. Give them a chance to vent in your surveys.

A bit of humour is fine, but by their tone I don’t think they really want to know – but want to “appear” to care what you think.

I replied:I felt exactly the same as you did and believe, feedback forms/surveys if anything must be ‘Neutral’ is nature, thereby allowing openness in responses. With this particular feedback form, the data extracted, based on which future potential marketing decisions are made, may be terribly incorrect.

Ed Burghard:I think these point in time estimates are helpful for staff, but not necessarily representative of the mean. They tend to represent responses from the extremes (+/-).

As a manager, I can use the responses to correct major issues (address the negatives quickly with my staff) or provide positive feedback on performance. But, I would not make important long-term decisions from these data. I would invest in a more robust research study and seek to understand the why behind the what.

The other thing these feedback instruments do is give the staff the impression their performance is being measured by customers. That in itself may encourage better service since people like to score well. Used correctly by the manager (results reviewed with employees) it can be a motivational tool.

The analogy I would give you is course evaluations. Their value is limited, but they are great disaster checks.

Remember, no data is valuable if there is not an intent to act on it some way consistent with the limitations of the data in representing the mean value.

I replied:Thanks for your thoughts. I kind of agree with you on that with a slight hesitation. I do not believe this feedback form to have got to do with anything related to their service at all. That in fact raises another good point against the company. The feedback form, IMO is product centric rather than being both product and service centric.

That being said, I agree that long-term decisions are better off not taken based on the current data. With all due respect to unstructured data, a robust survey, preferably in a structured format is in fact essential if they mean business with this feedback form. I recommend they use the Reichheld way of measuring consumer feedbacks (The ‘would or would not recommend’ Q). Have you used this in your practice and would you recommend the same too??

Ben Rennie:Yeah this is interesting. I found the web site absolutely painful with that song. Awful.

However, in regards to the survey. I found this quite interesting and I have read through your comments above and I wish I hadn’t as I think, sometimes, we can take things a little too seriously. This is a business, thats serious, but it is also an ice cream company, thats not. So the theme here and it is written everywhere in the brand communication is fun. Nothing on this site or feedback form represents serious… its all fun.

So this survey in particular can only be skewed towards optimistic. It actually creates a great form of feedback from the responses not bending towards the brands expectations (i.e. score a 2/10 and of course, wallah, negative feedback). So they can learn a lot from this. In relation to the customers opportunity to vent, they will always find a way, we certainly dont need to provide a form in a “service industry” asking them “what they didn’t like”. That would be assuming that we offer up poor ice cream. But to create the expectation that what we provide as a brand is valuable and remarkable, then, thats important. The sad customer will always find a way. The happy one, will more than likely tell his friends Hokey Pokey rocked.

@EdRoach, I like your feedback but this is a fun brand and everything about it speaks of optimism (allbeit painful with that song). The Largest ice cream is called a knockout (stupid but fun).

Lets not take things too seriously when it comes to Ice Cream. Lets just eat it.

I repliedA good point there Ben.. Nice to see some critism rolling in.

I think, we cannot, in particular, judge their brands expectations for obvious reasons. So obviously the marketing information they’d like to scrap from this survey is inevident in nature to our knowledge. That being said I presume, we all agree that the core purpose of this form is to get an overview of what consumers think or percieve of the brand Hokey Pokey and/or their products/services which will consequently help them improvise.

If they (optimistically) assume that the sad consumer would find a way to vent out his/her anger in a way that the company (somehow) notices it, then why bring up a feedback form altogether.

IMO, yes, it is a “fun” brand but when we ‘re talking data on the basis of which potential marketing/branding decisions can be excuted, the expressions utilization should be neutral (encouraging neither optimistic nor pessimistic).

Once again, Nice point though.

4 Responses to Branding Mishaps: Hokey Pokey Ice Cream Parlours

  1. Jenny Carlos Reply

    January 12, 2010 at 2:30 am

    Well pointed out, you experts. Phew … I am now convinced, our company is not the only one to do such DUMB errors.

    • Meheer Thakare Reply

      January 16, 2010 at 5:29 am


      They’re not dumb errors but a mere example of lesser knowledge on Branding and Marketing. Am sure, when the Company Management looks into this Brainstorming session, they’ll work on it.

      To me though, this is yet another classic Start-up mistake. (Carrying forward the culture, just a bit too far)

  2. Wilson Abraham Reply

    January 20, 2010 at 5:46 am

    I am going to agree with Ben, “Lets not take things too seriously when it comes to Ice Cream. Lets just eat it.”

    This is a form that a happy customer would love to fill out..and happiness truly is a generous scoop of Icecream..!!

    Did you notice that they have a open section for customer comments ?? so if a customer did not enjoy his experience at Hokey Pokey that probably is the only section that he will fill out while crossing out the rest…

    Meheer seems unhappy about something…maybe an extra scoop will help that..!

    • Meheer Thakare Reply

      January 20, 2010 at 6:18 am

      As a customer, I aint visiting the place again.

      I have reasoned my unhappiness above Wilson. But am still not convinced with your opposition. You argue and I quote, “Lets not take things too seriously when it comes to Ice Cream.”

      a – This is not about the Ice Cream, its about the openness in accepting customer expressions.

      b – In Marketing communications, the customer touchpoints need to be aligned with neutral psychology. Having had a bad experience at the parlour, the first thing that annoyed me with the feedback form is the all-out optimism which passed through a sense of disconnect.

      c – With just one open question allowing me to express my thoughts as a customer, I am thinking, does the management really need to know about my experience??

      Wilson, if every other Ice-cream brand starts considering marketing funny, because its “just an Ice-cream”, we’d not have brands like “Amul” and “Naturals” leading ahead.

      This is serious stuff, and perhaps marketers need the extra scoop to cool down and think.

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