Exit interviews – good or bad?

gardencentresHaving been invited to conduct some exit interviews for a local garden centre, we stopped a couple of customers to ask if they had found what they wanted and to enquire what they bought.

They said they had been intending to buy a lot of plants but had been concerned to see there were vine weevil eggs in all the pots and as a result, decided not to buy anything at all; the last thing they wanted was to take home an infestation of vine weevils.   (Note to non-gardeners – vine weevils are real pests but the larvae are the far more damaging and will destroy the root systems).

Our interviewee asked if they would be happy to talk to the duty manager. She was called over and expressed her concern and took them to see the outdoor plant manager, who explained that what they thought were eggs were, in fact, plant food granules. The customers disagreed saying they used to own a nursery and knew what the eggs looked like.

The plant manager then took them to into the garden centre and showed them the plant food being used on the plants, admitting that there were similarities but confirming that the granules were definitely plant food and not vine weevil eggs.

The customers were satisfied with this and decided to retrace their steps and purchase their original selection of plants.


  • Value your customers.  Take time to listen to their concerns and explain carefully how any misunderstandings might have arisen.
  • By ensuring these customers were happy with the way they were treated, not only were their purchases were still made but more importantly, they will tell others how they were treated.
  • Use exit interviews: without these customers being asked about their purchases (or lack of them) the garden centre would never have considered the likelihood that their plant food could have been causing these problems.   Customers, and regular ones in particular, like to be feel valued and pleased to be able to contribute ideas they may have; businesses will be surprised at the extent of information to be discovered – just by asking.
  • Use signage to tell customers what is happening in the garden centre and how they care for the plants

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