Small businesses have just as much to gain by superior customer service as large companies do.
I was out today with my three children finishing up some last minute school supply shopping (yes, I am that mom). We took a route home that would take us by the Schwallier’s Apple Orchard where our family makes it a point to visit for our annual pumpkin hunt. We didn’t know if the orchard was open yet, but as soon as we saw that it was, we veered over to make a quick stop.
As soon as we walked in, the very reason that we make a special trip to go out of our way happened again – the owner tossed a just-picked apple to me and each of my three kids. I thanked the owner and told him how much I appreciate the apples and the we look forward to them every time we visit them. He stated “Every person who walks through that door gets an apple. I can’t expect them to buy anything from me if I don’t give them something first.”
Now, you could take issue with that statement that he is doing something to be nice only to get something, but he is in business for a reason – to make a profit. But the neat thing about this orchard is that he really is a nice guy and wants to give people apples because he wants to be just that – a nice guy. He knows that people come to the orchard, as our family does, because the enjoy the friendly atmosphere. I don’t feel like I’m being nickled and dimed when I’m given an apple as soon as I walk in. They offer assistance whenever they can about which apples to buy for which purpose – eating or baking. They also have a great pumpkin patch, petting zoo, and barn full of new little kittens that kids can play with. No, I’m in no way affiliated with this place or receive any compensation. They don’t even know I’m writing this post. I jut like it that much.
During our conversation, I asked the owner when the Honey Crisp apples would be ready. He said that they’d be ready next week, but that he had a few that he’d be happy to give me now. They just might not be quite as ripe as I’d like. I selected some different apples and some peaches, then asked about tomatoes. He said that they had more in back and asked me how many I’d like. I received the three that I asked for and he told me that those were my treat for the day on him. The clerk ringing up my items reminded me to come back when the Honey Crisps were ready and told me that she’d be sure that there would be some pumpkin spice donuts waiting for me. I guess she caught me longing for the ones that had just come out of the oven.
So, as I paid for my peaches and apples, carried everything from the car, my son asked me why I was talking with the owner so much. I told him that the owner engaged with me, helped me out with what we were looking for, gave me some tomatoes as a gift, and just made the last part of our shopping day a real treat. Mind you, I had just spent 6 hours shopping for shoes and school supplies and lunch with my three kids. They are the best kids in the world, but even they have their limits. This pleasant encounter addressed all of the main points of excellent customer service delivery –
- They welcomed me into their store with warm genuine positivity
- They asked questions about what I wanted and informed me according to what I needed to know
- They encouraged me to come back
- They knew that my business was based on their willingness to serve me with sincerity
Because of all that, this simple apple orchard has won a loyal customer for life. And, not only am I returning, I encourage all of my friends and anyone reading this post that lives in the area to visit that orchard.