- Derbyshire-based Croots Farm Shop recently held customer feedback sessions to shape the business’s future
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The shop and café, which first opened in June 2008, asked randomly-selected customers what they liked about Croots and where improvements could be made.
In the shop, the butchery counter emerged as a firm favourite - scoring ten out of ten - with customers appreciating the shop’s commitment to locally sourced meat. The café’s full English breakfasts and cakes were also singled out as a reason to visit.
Kay Croot, co-owner of Croots Farm Shop, joined the business full-time in 2015 after 25 years with major national and international retail brands. She said that while using focus groups was common practice for large corporations, it was rare for smaller businesses.
“Successful retailers have to give great quality at the right price, but they must also offer fantastic customer service,” she said.
“And the best way to achieve that is by putting our customers at the heart of decision-making. We wanted to know what we were doing well and where we could make things better, either by improving customer service or by improving the range of products and attractions.”
Croots Farm Shop will now consider the feedback in detail, particularly looking at suggestions for a range of improvements, and will carry out further customer research online with a larger group of customers.
“We wanted to understand what people really wanted from us, so we encouraged open, straightforward feedback, particularly about what we might change in the future and how we can continue to offer the best range of products and services,” Kay continued. “More ready meals and more organic vegetables, a bigger range of gluten-free products, items suitable for diabetics, an expanded deli counter and reducing delays during particularly busy spells were all themes raised.
“People also came up with some great ideas. Themed nights in the café, a picnic area for the summer, extending the children’s play area and the possibility of an animal petting area were all suggested.
“The themes raised by customers provide us with a strong starting point for wider customer research in which we will be considering many of the ideas put forward, but it was interesting to note that our customers were adamant the farm shop ethos should remain at the heart of our business and any developments. We will be carrying out further customer research online to test the ideas with a larger group of customers.”