Butterball: a study in customer service, experience, and success

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The holiday meal.

If you are the chef, it’s one of if not the most important meal of the year. And if you’re the primary cook in the family, you might be looking at more than one over the coming weeks.

Cooking such a meal with its many dishes can be stressful. Veteran cook or beginner, there are many challenges along the way, from planning the menu to accommodate diets and preferences, lacking a key ingredient during preparation, to accidentally dropping the gravy boat on the way to the table. Add all this to other holiday angst and you have a potential recipe for disaster. (No pun intended.)



Central to most holiday meals is the turkey. Many mistakes are possible when preparing the bird, leading to a poor meal experience for both the cook and their guests.

The good news is that a major player in the turkey industry, Butterball, has heard the cries for help. The company offers assistance in more ways than one, providing the means to get the chef through the stress, create a better customer experience, and ultimately a successful meal. Their unique approach all began with adding extended customer service hours staffed by specialists.

How it began

The history of the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line (or TTL) is fascinating. Launched in 1981, it started with six home economists staffing the telephone lines and answering 11,000 turkey cooking questions over the holiday season. Fast forward to 2018, and over 100,000 inquiries were expected from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve during the service’s availability. A similar or greater volume is anticipated in 2019.

And the expectations to be one of the prestigious agents on the TTL? They’re high. Outside of the skills and experience required, staff must delay their own Thanksgiving celebrations to assist those in need. For some agents, the reward might come in the form of the funny stories that result from customers attempting things on their own.

While Butterball continues to offer the soothing voice of a poultry expert on its TTL by telephone (1-800-BUTTERBALL), they have since adopted other support channels. These channels are what help them scale their customer service to handle over a hundred thousand inquiries during the holiday period and provide service where and how their customers require it.

The basic contact options

Visit Butterball.com today, and it’s clear the company has recognized the importance of helping its customers select and prepare its products to perfection. The top of every page displays the TTL number for any visitor that needs immediate assistance or is unable to find the answer to their question.

In reality, a question would need to be rather unique for the customer to not find an answer. Butterball has obviously put some thought into how to organize their knowledge base. Visit the “How To” section of the website, and the company has suggestions for every stage: from selecting the right turkey, through cooking, all the way to carving. Considering an alternate means of cooking the bird like deep frying, spatchcocking, or air frying? Butterball has you covered, with step-by-step instructions.

Further, Butterball recognizes the cook probably won’t have a computer at the grocery store or in the kitchen. The website is mobile-optimized, displaying the pages perfectly on any device. This means slow-to-load and incorrectly formatted pages won’t add to the chef’s frustration.



The modern additions

Besides the web pages, Butterball has gone further to embrace the mobile needs of their customers. Texting the TTL was added this year, allowing customers to have an ongoing conversation over the course of their planning and preparation period, adding convenience.

Sometimes time is of the essence, yet speaking by telephone isn’t a preferred channel for the customer. That’s okay, Butterball has recognized that and made online chat via computer or mobile device also available.

If this weren’t enough, help is also standing by with a voice command. The Butterball Alexa Skill offers assistance and even features some of the real TTL experts’ voices. There’s even an option to hear a pep talk!

One more thing

A mobile-optimized website. A knowledge base with tips and tricks from purchase to serving. Modern, convenient, and cutting-edge communication channels. These offerings alone show Butterball’s commitment to making their customers’ holiday meals a success. But they didn’t stop there.

First time cooking a holiday meal? Or just looking for some ideas? The Thanksgiving Customizer quiz takes various inputs–the number of people being fed, the timeframe until the meal, cooking style, and taste–and suggests a turkey preparation style and recipe as well as a side dish.

Don’t need the meal suggestions, but still need some planning help? Various calculators are available for portion planning of turkey and stuffing based on the number of guests, how long to thaw a frozen bird, and cooking time.

Turning anxiety into achievement

Cooking any meal is not without its challenges. The holiday meal raises the stakes even higher.



Butterball has recognized the role its products play in this event and has stepped up help in both traditional and unconventional ways. The company offers live assistance to its customers from skilled experts by phone, chat, or text. Self-help options include how-to knowledge base articles, useful calculators, and Alexa-read voice instructions.

Amazing customer service and experiences are what today’s customers expect. Butterball serves as an example of a company using technology readily available in a modern customer service platform to go beyond conventional customer service, creating a well-executed and memorable experience. Offering not only information and advice but also encouragement in the customer’s communication channel of choice, Butterball ensures the success of its customers and the delight of their holiday meal guests.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Dave. I’m not the head cook in the house, but I have been told we’ll be smoking a turkey and I better get my equipment together. Good to know I have Butterball out there to assist as needed! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Paul – this is fantastic. It’s a great illustration of the little things that can create real customer loyalty. This isn’t a quid-pro-quo customer service thing (you can get service for a fee) or a token gesture thing. They have integrated the success of their customers entirely. The product itself, in some way, is secondary to the commitment to customer service.

    Thanks for sharing – Happy Thanksgiving!

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