Another quick look at Riverford Organics and a lesson for all.
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 kitchen calling “Riverford coming through!”, he was then delighted to report: “there are three sweetcorns”, there having been two in previous weeks!
On 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