Building your brand with humility and grace – T2 Tea

As an organiser of a few different design conferences I’m always on the alert for interesting people to have speak to various audiences. In that capacity I found myself reading through the story on the founding of T2 on their website.

The story centres on the company founder, Maryanne Shearer, and her love of and passion for tea – a passion that led her to found T2 in a shop on Brunswick St, Fitzroy 15 years ago. (You can read the full story on their site – and it’s worth a read.) And it was while I was reading this story that I spotted a small spelling error.

The error stood out, diminishing the impact of the story as a whole – which speaks to an attention to detail and meticulousness that permeates throughout the company. The sort of error easily introduced when third parties are responsible for an environment such as the Web. Rather than leave the error there for others to see, I decided to send a message to the company to bring it to their attention. How they responded is a lesson in responsiveness, humility, and service…

I sent T2 the following:

Hello T2,

I was just reading through the story on your website about the founding of the company, and noticed this line:

Her modest and sincere approach, coupled with a sharp intelligence and unrelentless drive for innovation, is admired by everyone she encounters.”

I think the word you’re after is either unrelenting or relentless. The error just stood out on a page that otherwise paints a compelling picture of attention to detail, passion and energy, so I thought I’d bring it to your attention.

Best wishes

Now, there are a number of ways I’ve seen companies (and individuals) respond to this feedback in the past:

  1. Fix the error, but otherwise fail to acknowledge your message. The old, “Error? What error?” approach.
  2. Be defensive. “Sure, there’s an error, but overall the site is great and we put an awful lot of time and effort into it.”
  3. Ignore it entirely.
  4. Fix the error, and say thank you.

Here’s what T2 did:

Thank you for your feedback in regards to the T2 Website. We greatly appreciate your keen eyes and attention to detail.

I would love to send you some of your favourite tea to say thanks. Thanks for taking the time to get in touch and I look forward to hearing back from you”

They also corrected the error, and all within about 20 minutes.

Notice: they didn’t put a value on the tea, or send me a gift voucher. I have no idea whether they’ll send me 10 tea bags or a kilo of leaf – nor do I particularly care at this point. I am simply looking forward to receiving some tea in the near future!

Notice also the speed with which they corrected the error, acknowledged my assistance and the effort involved, and thanked me for it with something tangible. Such actions have real benefits – including me writing about it and praising the company publicly. I’ll also have T2 tea (more of it, actually) on display at Meld Studios, and I’ll recount the story of how I came by it many times.

I was already a fan of the company, and here I am now an advocate – all because of how they responded to what some would see as criticism. They chose to view it as (valuable) assistance and reacted accordingly.

It is a testament to the culture of the company, and aligns well with the quality of their product, and the experience surrounding it. I shouldn’t be surprised by their reaction, but I am, and I’m impressed by it as well. At a time when so many companies are looking to enhance their customers’ experience, here’s a company worth emulating.

So, kudos to you T2 Tea, and Amanda from your online team. And thank you.

  • Matt

    April 23, 2017 at 4:25 pm Reply

    Great lesson, and thanks for sharing it. I spent over 15yrs in the Web industry and have often felt that part of my role was to help others in my industry where I could. We all work at such a frenetic pace, that mistakes inevitably slip through. People have graciously (mostly!) alerted me to my mistakes over the years, so I feel it only right that I do the same. Sadly, 70% of the time I receive no reply, 20% of the time I cop abuse but the grateful, warm 10% makes it worthwhile – still.

    PS: re T2
    You might need to rethink some of the T2 info. I know it’s a few years old, but this piece implies a situation that never was. Shearer wasn’t ‘THE’ founder, she was an equal co-founder. And the passion for tea came from the creative force behind the brand, Jan O’Connor, who – it could be argued – was, let’s say ‘cleverly pressured’ out of the business by Shearer’s bankrolling boyfriend. You can get some of the back-story here, but there’s more to it all of course. There always is 🙂

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