We all like to think our businesses are emotionally compelling and that we get to create experiences for our customers, be that a youngun’s first bike ride or the satisfying spice of mom’s recipes, but there are few businesses as rooted in personal experience as florals.
For wedding days and apology bouquets, for memorial services and anniversaries, floral design is almost always vested with emotion, meaning it’s a business where customer service matters most. Owning a florals businesses requires a superior level of authenticity, listening skills, and genuine connection so that the florist can transform the heart of a customer into a bouquet—and that’s exactly what you’ll find at Brown’s Floral Design in Weaverville.
We tapped owner Hannah Warfield, our own go-to bloom guru, for her advice on sustaining an impeccable level of service, then offered our own analysis of why her approach works.
Q. First: tell us a little about yourself and your business.
A. We are a full service floral design studio, located on Main Street in Weaverville, serving the greater Asheville area and surrounding communities. I bought the locally established business in early 2017, bringing with me my specialties in flower growing and designing with seasonal and local flowers. I believe that flowers arise in nature just when we need them: lilacs in spring, magnolia in the hot days of summer, and sunflowers in early fall. I like to incorporate this timely use of seasonal material in both everyday design and wedding florals.
TMG Analysis: Like many business owners, Hannah incorporates her passion into her work, but she does it in a way that’s sustainable and makes sense for her business. Her love for florals is inherent to the biz, and it makes her a true resource for her community.
Q. We think “customer service” is veering into the realm of the catchphrase and losing its legitimacy as a concept—that’s why we want interview the folks who we know understand it. Could you give us your definition of customer service?
A. Customer service involves a deeper understanding of the relationship between a trusted artisan and a paying customer. We have the luxury of being able to spend time virtually or face to face with our clients to ensure our designs are customized for their special occasion.
TMG Analysis: “Customized” defines Hannah’s business—but it should define every business. It truly is a luxury for business owners and their employees to interact on a personal level with their customers, and perceiving it as such is the first step to providing excellent customer service. Once you recognize how lucky you are to be in your position, your entire outlook on your customers shifts into gratitude—after all, their support defines your livelihood and you should be grateful for their business, and they should in turn know how happy you are to have their support.
Q. How do you try to implement great customer service in your business? As in, what are some of your best practices?
A. In an ever-changing, fast-paced world, consultations in-person seem to be a comfort to clients. Whether it is a family member planning a memorial service or a nervous bride choosing a vendor, the personal aspect of sitting down with someone is a timeless business practice.
TMG Analysis: Giving you entire attention to a customer is such an important aspect of customer service. Rather than letting yourself be distracted by the goings-on of your business—phone calls, other customers, employee questions—dedicate yourself to your current client and current interaction. Your customer will appreciate your genuineness and intentionality.
Q. Good customer service can be a difficult skill to learn; how do you pass it on to your employees?
A. We have a manner code in our shop. Floral work can be fast-paced and stressful at times. Regardless, there is always time for good manners.
TMG Analysis: Ah, manners—it’s a simple concept we’re wont to overlook. But the simple stuff—greetings, verbalized ‘thank yous,’ eye contact—go a long way in making the customer feel welcome. And without them, your customer service is already shot.
Q. Any suggestions for other business owners/managers trying to cultivate an environment of great customer service?
A. Listen to the customer, and ask them how you could serve them better.
TMG Analysis: Truly listening to your customers is integral to providing great service. You can assume you’re doing well, but unless you ask, you never know what’s going unsaid. Your customers can provide unique insight into the operations of your business (including your level of service) that, as an insider, you’d never notice.
Q. What are some unique customer service challenges you’ve experienced, and how did you overcome them?
A. There are some people that are inherently hard to please. Learning to know how to spot that trait, still deliver a good experience for the client and not taking it personally has been a lesson to learn.
TMG Analysis: The key to Hannah’s advice lies here: ‘still deliver a good experience.’ No matter how difficult a customer is, it’s always your responsibility to deliver great experience to the best of your abilities.