Remarkable people update

Another quick look at Riverford Organics and a lesson for all.

Further to my post on Guy Watson of Riverford Organics, in the mini-series on remarkable people:

A couple of Saturdays ago (October 24), we had a great time out at Wash Farm, the home of Riverford Organics.

Our five year old son enjoys eating sweetcorn. Recently, having carried the weekly veg box from our doorstep to the sweetcornkitchen calling “Riverford coming through!”, he was then delighted to report: “there are three sweetcorns”, there having been two in previous weeks!

riverford 008On Saturday, he marched into a field of sweetcorn and, as if he had done it for years, went straight to a plant and, explaining what he was doing, tested the crop for size and ripeness and picked it by breaking it off like an expert. He then handed it to me and proceeded to pick many more of them. When I asked him how he knew what to do, all was revealed: “I saw it on the telly!”.

As luck would have it, I encountered Guy Watson at the event and it was great to shake his hand and offer a few words of congratulation on what he has done. Of course, he has no idea who I am!

Their customer service is great; and now they are embarking on more market research to understand better how their customers use their products! [See the relevant edition of their newsletter here!] [The subject of a Post on Market Research coming out soon. Ed.]

Although I am not an expert, I know enough to know that this is remarkable. To think about how customers are using the product, to measure it, to go into customers homes and find out what they are really doing with your products: this is at the pinnacle of good customer research!

No doubt there are others, but I have only ever heard of one other company who paid so much attention to customers in their homes. It was Intuit, the highly regarded US software vendor which, for decades, has consistently beaten Microsoft at providing accounting software. Their representatives would wait in a shop for a customer to buy their product and then request permission to travel with them to their home to record exactly what experience they had with installing and using it!

Final report from the day at Riverford: the event on Saturday was “Pumpkin Day”, its primary purpose being to buy (and have carved) your pumpkin for Hallowe’en. There was a competition to guess the weight of a (largish) pumpkin; I guessed by comparative lifting of the pumpkin and of said five-year-old son, and based my estimate on information from his mother about his most recent weight! Guess what? I have just heard that I won! So a case of (organic, of course) red wine is now expected to materialise alongside this weeks box of vegetables!

By John Lewis

P.S. The Riverford Blog is a good read

2 thoughts on “Remarkable people update

  1. An uplifting story – every business student should read it for a start …. great to hear of children taking an interest in where their food comes from – sadly, many urban kids don’t have a clue about how they are fed. Many have lost that close link to the land that is a fundamental part of our history, heritage and of course life itself.

    I was supremely lucky to experience life on a farm when I was about 9 or 10 … we camped on a small farm in Guestling Green, Sussex and made friends with the farmer and his family, Bob Davis. We helped out on the harvest and with other tasks; I even drove a tractor to harrow a field …. when not “employed”, we would wander about and pick mushrooms or blackberries, of which there were millions …… In those days I think farms were less “industrialised”, and there was a bit of everything on the farm, sheep, cows, goats, cereals ….. and at the end of the day, there was the farmhouse kitchen, with all kinds of pastries, fruits, jams, cream …….

    Happy days …. if only every kid could have such a lucky experience!


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