Sowing the Seeds of Customer Satisfaction

January 8, 2013
In the 21st century, give consumers what they want — true utility.

My aunt is a gardener, so when I drew her name out of the “Secret Santa” hat for Christmas 2012 I thought getting her some seeds would be perfect. The search quickly became an Epic Christmas Quest, and reminded me that many businesses still don’t know how to use the web to do more and better business.

Consumers want knowledge

What I know about gardening would fit neatly inside a pumpkin seed, so like most consumers I turned to the web for education. I wanted to know a couple things:

  • Where’s a reliable place to buy seeds? If it can’t be found at Barnes & Noble, HEB, or Walmart, I have no clue where to look.
  • What seeds can I buy now that my aunt can plant immediately? I don’t want to accidentally buy something she can’t plant until the next fall.
  • What grows well in the area my aunt lives? No sense spending money on a plant that can’t cope with freezing temperatures.

I needed someone to give me these answers (or point out other questions to ask) so that I could make an informed purchase. The company that could help me would get my business.

90% of online consumers trust recommendations from people they know, myself included — so my first task was to secure from friends some possible seed shopping spots. I got two website URLs and off I went.

In the weeds

Nursery A was a total disaster. Garish colors, fuzzy fonts, and outdated design were bad enough, but to top it off there was not a single clickable item anywhere on the (single-page) website. I couldn’t click to see a list of types of available vegetable plants, herb plants, garden tools, or mulches — apparently I should just know they have those things, and would have to call them or drive 30+ miles to learn any more.

The lesson here? Word of mouth can bring you prospects, but it’s still up to you (or your website) to turn those referrals into customers.

A ray of sunshine

Nursery B’s website, by comparison, was pure gold. The design was better, and I could actually click on things for more information. Best of all, they provided me the information I wanted.

Need to know how to start seeds at home? There’s an article for that. What about pruning techniques, vegetable gardening tips, fruit and nut tree growing, deer proofing, herb gardening, or composting basics? They had it all.

There was also a ton of information meant to help San Antonio and Texas Hill Country residents create and maintain a climate-hardy lawn and garden.

Their content wasn’t specifically focused on the area of Texas my aunt lives, but the value of what they provided convinced me they would know how to help.

Guess who got my business?

The root of the matter

Department store magnate Marshall Fields was known for his saying, “Give the lady what she wants.” It’s a good phrase, but it needs an update:

In the 21st century, give consumers what they want — true utility.

Give them websites that educate them, apps that help them navigate your store or customize their perfect product, or make a purchase on the go. Give them something that makes their lives easier, better, or more fun.

It may require focus groups or R&D or hiring a consultant — or it may not. For a plant nursery it might be as simple as creating a chart that shows customers the best kinds of plants for different environments.

It doesn’t have to be big, but it does have to solve a customer’s problem.

Let’s dig in.

Getting started

Your website is your most important and cost-effective marketing channel, but it's only as good as its ability to create new business.

If your website is difficult to update or not doing its job, you should be thinking, "I need a redesign."

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[Image: goldberg]