Over the years we’ve conducted a few customer surveys about our CSA program to help tell us how we’re doing: what customers like about the program and where we can improve. We had over 100 responses this year and they were overwhelmingly positive. My biggest takeaway was we should keep doing what we’re doing! But I’ll break down the results in more detail in this post.
For this survey, customers rated us for overall satisfaction, vegetable quality/quantity/selection, convenience, customer support, value. For each category, respondents chose among very satisfied, satisfied, neutral, unsatisfied, very unsatisfied. They could elaborate on their responses and we also asked what we should and shouldn’t change.
Here’s how we did:
Overall satisfaction: 98% rating of “very satisfied” or “satisfied”
Quality of vegetables: 100% rating of “very satisfied” or “satisfied”
Quantity of vegetables: 99% rating of “very satisfied” or “satisfied”
Selection of vegetables: 91% rating of “very satisfied” or “satisfied”
Convenience: 94% rating of “very satisfied” or “satisfied”
Customer service: 100% rating of “very satisfied” or “satisfied”
Value: 98% rating of “very satisfied” or “satisfied”
Given the unconventional nature of CSA, I’m not surprised the lowest-rated categories are selection of vegetables and convenience—but I’m super happy they still scored in the 90s! In a lot of ways, CSAs ask a lot from their customers. No tomatoes until August and none after the fall frost! No broccoli or cauliflower during the hot summer months! Don’t like kale? Too bad! And those garlic scapes you didn’t know what to do with the first week but learned to love the second week—those are gone until next year!
In a food landscape where it is easy to get whatever fresh vegetable you’d like whenever you’d like, the single-farm-sourced and strictly seasonal nature of CSA requires a complete retraining of how people consume food. It’s our hope that we counter this unusual way of getting vegetables with superior quality—and according to our survey results it looks like we’re doing that!
With a 100% very satisfied or satisfied rating for quality of vegetables, we feel there’s no question that our vegetables are top notch! One explanation for this good rating is that seasonal local eating lends itself to a fresher and therefore better tasting product. But I’d venture to guess that our high quality has more to do with a concerted effort to give our customers only the best! It’s great that our survey confirms what we hoped—that only high quality vegetables are leaving the farm.
I was pleased that customer service got a 100% rating. We recognize that we’re retraining consumers, so we try to provide ample support. Survey respondents pointed to our CSA blog and CSA Private Facebook Group as resources that help them use the less common vegetables. Another customer favorite that was mentioned repeatedly on the survey was our “swap box” where CSA members can swap something from their box with something in our swap box. We’ll continue to offer the swap box and whenever possible fill it with even more extra vegetables for folks to choose from.
Of the 114 respondents, only one didn’t care for the CSA and they rather apologetically admitted that they are a picky vegetable eater. For some, our produce is never going to win them over. But we feel that’s the exception and that, more often than not, we have successfully turned reluctant vegetable consumers into veggie lovers. We’ve turned the feeling — when opening the CSA box and stuffing everything into the fridge — from “overwhelmed” to “over-the-moon”.
I have a farmer friend who says it takes a few years of getting a CSA box to become a master CSA member. One respondent to our survey said, “Still learning how to use some of the vegetables, but gets less overwhelming each year” and I see this person as on the path towards CSA mastery. Once proficient, suddenly the “inconvenient” nature of CSA is thrown on its head and being given a box of vegetables hand-selected by someone other than yourself couldn’t be more convenient. When asked what we can do to improve the CSA experience, one member for whom this rings true responded: “Help with making going back to grocery stores at the end of the season so much of a chore?” Well, we can’t help there, but we can take the results of the survey and our 10 years of CSA experience and strive to make the 2019 CSA experience the best yet! If you want to sign up for our CSA do so here! And many thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to our survey!