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Are you still questioning whether Customer Service is important within your business..? Or maybe you have just never thought about it?

I was again reminded of the importance over the weekend where I had an underwhelming experience.

Case Study: Christmas Tree Farm

We are hosting Christmas lunch this year so, I thought it would be a great idea to purchase a real Christmas tree. I was really excited to go to buy our first real Christmas tree and I was also looking forward to the ‘experience’ of this outing.

All of this excitement very quickly came crashing down as soon as we stepped foot inside the farm shop. There was very little ‘experience’ factor… but maybe I have to be a child to warrant that?

We were not greeted or offered any help by staff… instead we were told “we are winding down and there are not many good trees left… we’ve had a busier year than anticipated”. We were one of about 10 families waiting for more freshly cut trees to arrive from the farm and the car park was almost full. It didn’t look like they were winding down to me..? Our Christmas was just starting..!

We then picked a tree and the shop assistant said “you want that one?” and then “put it down”. There was no smile on his face… or reassurance that we’d picked a good one! We then proceeded to pay and picked the tree up again on our way out… the assistant didn’t say much as we left… Is it that hard to say:

Have a great Christmas and enjoy your tree! Remember to keep it hydrated and don’t burn it with your lights…

This reminded me of the importance to ‘Mystery Shop’ yourself to see how you and your team are performing. In this businesses case, there are many things that they could be doing to improve not only customer service but also the ‘experience’ of buying a real Christmas Tree. Mystery Shopping is a great initiative to add to your 2016 calendar of activity, if it is not already on there.

Sure, some people want to get in and out in as little time as possible… but others want an ‘experience’.

How to Improve Customer Service

Patrick’s post from last year offers some great tips on how to improve customer service. In summary, here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Decide: Are you willing to make the commitment to Delightful Customer Service?
  2. Review your strategy: Review your Marketing Plan to help define what is required
  3. Define what is required: What is your Customer Service standard?
  4. Develop staff culture and train: Regular training to continuously improve skills
  5. Monitor and correct: Continually monitor outcomes and correct (if required)

Some tips for the Farm:

There are many things this farm shop could do to improve their level of customer service and customer experience. Some cost money, time and investment and others could be implemented fairly quickly and easily. Here are some of my suggestions based on the 5 steps listed above:

  1. They firstly need to decide if they want to commit to improved customer service and customer experience
  2. Assuming the answer is ‘yes’, their first step should be to review their marketing plan, or complete one. They should also invest in mystery shopping themselves.
  3. I then suggest that the following steps are required:
    • Improved web presence (currently only have a Facebook Page)
    • Implement an online ordering system
    • Implement a ‘Pick your Tree’ program in the months leading up to Christmas (this will help with traffic flow management and stock levels) and ‘EXPERIENCE’
    • Implement a ‘Book a Time for Pick up’ program to assist with traffic flow
    • Staff Training in Customer Service
    • A token gift of a decoration with their branding
    • More information on how to care for your tree (flyer or email marketing program)
  4. They definitely need to implement a staff customer service training program and then daily training / follow up to ensure a positive culture
  5. They could then also consider implementing a customer service survey sent to all customers and regular mystery shopping  (at least two over the one month sales period)

Are your customers delighted? We encourage you to take a moment over summer to consider what the overall customer experience is for your business and whether it is as you want it to be. Especially if your business depends on it!!

Intro image by Janet Moore-Coll on Flickr (CC by 2.0).

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