Listening to our Farmers' Market Customers
Earlier this year we set a challenging goal for ourselves. We wanted to hear directly from 2,000 of our customers about their farmers’ market experiences so we can use that information to improve our markets. As of this morning, we have received over 2,700 responses, thanks in large part to our local community partners who helped to spread word about the survey.
While we won’t start really digging into the data until the survey is complete, I couldn’t resist taking a quick peek. We started the survey with a simple question, asking our shoppers how satisfied they are with their local farmers’ market, collecting their responses on a 1-5 scale. With over 2,300 responses to that question, we are averaging a score of 4.17. Over 80% of shoppers told us that they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their local farmers’ market. While we are thrilled to learn this, we want to be sure to address the concerns of the 20% of our shoppers who were less satisfied with their market experience. We recognize that we can’t directly address every concern – for example, each farmer sets their own prices so there is little we can do to shift customers’ concerns about market prices – we will do what we can to make these customers’ market experiences better in the future.
When we asked shoppers to share what factors influenced their overall satisfaction score, two of the leading factors were directly related to their customer service experience in the market. On the same 1-5 scale, customer service from farmers had an average score of 4.43 and customer service from PCFMA’s market managers garnered an average score of 4.26. These numbers reinforced our belief that farmers’ markets are about connections as well as commerce. The positive, face-to-face interactions that our customers have at our farmers’ markets are a big part of what is bringing them back.
These scores also reinforce the importance of our partnership with our farmers and the other businesses who sell within our markets. We depend upon them for friendly smiles, as well as great produce, and are incredibly grateful for their efforts which help make PCFMA and our farmers’ markets successful. While these producers may compete with each other for sales, their common commitment to high quality customer service makes the farmers’ market experience better for all customers, regardless of from whom they make their purchases. (And according to the survey, customers make purchases from an average of four farmers during each visit, spending around $8.00 with each one.)
In addition to questions about customer satisfaction and shopping habits, we also asked our shoppers about their social media use and the types of information they would like to see from PCFMA. We hope to be able to use this data to better target our educational and marketing messages so they are more impactful, encouraging more consumers to experience the quality products and the quality experience of shopping at their local farmers’ market.