Surveying Your Customers

Claire, Plantpassion

Paula van rachel florists selling.jpg

General feedback

Do you ask for feedback from your customers?

Do you talk to them about what they liked? And more importantly what they didn't like?

It's easy to talk to people when they're receiving the flowers, and luckily most of the time the reaction at that point is really positive, but going back to customers at a later date and asking

"What did you think?"

"How could we have done better?"

are really important ways of finding out what you should be growing for the future.

Do you know about different types of questions?

If you've come from a sales background, then this should be second nature to you, - if not, you may find the checklist below useful.

claire on the field with florists.jpg

Proactively asking your current customers about ideas for the future is excellent for developing your relationships. How about doing an open day for your potential customers?

Email survey tools

It's really important to get face to face feedback, but sometimes you need numbers to back up your findings, so this is where an email survey tool comes in.

I've used several:

  • Survey Monkey

An American site, this is used by a lot of big companies, and well as micro businesses and is very simple and intuitive to use.

  • Smart Survey

A UK based site, used by government and big companies. This is the one I've been using for several years. It's completely free to use if you don't need more than 100 answers in a month. Or you can pay for a month at a time which gives you access to downloadable files and lots more.

  • Facebook polls

Facebook polls can be used through a Facebook group, (any number of answer options) or on a Facebook page (2 answer options)

  • Google docs

I’ve never used this myself, but was sent a survey by this method for my village fete, and it was highly recommended

Top tips for surveying customers

1) Use a mixture of types of questions - some yes /no, some multiple choice, some open answers

2) Make all questions short and sweet

3) Don't ask too many questions, around 5 is best, maximum 8

4) Send it at a good time (If you are not sure which is a good time for your customers, Facebook analytics are the best metric for finding that)

5) Remind them 3 days later

claire with florist.jpg
selling by the bucket.jpg

Interest or Orders?

Getting feedback from customers is really important, but so is working out whether the interest is actually going to translate into orders.

When we were discussing this section we all had examples of customers who had said they would be so interested in a particular plant, or variety, but who when presented with that to buy, had no reason to purchase our carefully grown stems.

For instance this year I will be removing my Black Baccara roses. They are a beautiful rose, and produce huge dark flowers. But they look nothing like the Black Baccara that florists expect from abroad. They aren't hugely long stemmed, their flowers are bigger than imported ones, so they take over the rest of the bouquet, and the dark colour while hugely popular in Spring and Autumn isn't wanted here in Surrey in mid June when they have their biggest flush. They're competing with Peonies at that time of year. I was told by a florists 5 years ago that she would buy every stem that I grew, BUT..... She went out of business 6 months later, and I've sold about 1 stem a plant a year since then!

Black Baccara rose.jpg

So how do you know that what you are being told is really worth following up?

1) Trust your instincts

2) Know what you are good at growing on your soil and with your conditions

3) Rate highly the information from valued, loyal, repeating customers

4) Take notice of 1 & 2 for any feedback from those who don't fall into category 3

Making it happen

So this is the part where you actually make it happen.

Sometimes with a workshop, you spend a lovely day with people, and agree with all the information, and then go home and put what you've learned in a drawer, and just a couple of nuggets remain.

Here with this online course, we're going to encourage you to actually get results.

Did you have customers this year? - If you did, pick 5 that you enjoyed working with.

Haven't sold things yet? - pick 5 friends or family, who are closest to those you want to sell to, and ask them

Write yourselves 5 questions. 2 need to be closed questions, 2 need to be open questions, 1 needs to be probing to find out more information about one of the other answers.

What do you want to know?

Here's some topics you might be wanting to get more information about

• Recognition - how much do people know about your business?

• Research - what flowers do they really want to buy at what price points?

• Feedback - Was your service and quality really at the level that people want?

• Trends - What fashions and colours are likely to be wanted next year?

(this is best asked of florists and designers who already have bookings for next year)

Don't be tempted to ask a bit of everything, you want to hone your subject so you get meaningful results.

Survey Methods

Are you going to pick up the phone? Or is this going to be done by email? Are you going to meet somewhere? - If you can pick up the phone, or meet for coffee (depending on the customer) it can be immediate, and you can get a lot more information and intonation on the results.

Surveys are also great for future marketing, and this increases greatly if you are meeting with people

Not keen on using the phone ? Make your email friendly and chatty. Don't be tempted to send the same email to all 5 customers (although you can copy and paste parts of it, always make them individual) Give them a timescale that you'd love a reply, and follow up.