Cornering the Farmer’s Market on Customer Service

Leadership Thought 

Delighting customers starts with stepping into their world and uncovering unmet and unspoken needs.


The park near my house hosts a Tuesday night farmer’s market throughout the summer. My wife, Jamie, and I make it a regular outing each week to pick up a few items and grab a bite to eat. 

Going to the market week after week, I’ve become familiar with many of the vendors, their products, and how they display the goods they sell. It’s interesting how they adjust their approach throughout the summer. They move items around, refine what they say to customers, and create new offerings. 

For example, a few weeks ago, I noticed that a pasta vendor started selling meal kits by combining his pasta with sauces and bread from two other market vendors. At some point, one or all of them must have noticed that customers frequent multiple booths to pick up meal items. They partnered to provide a one-stop-shop of sorts to make it easier for customers to put together meals. When I asked about the meal kits, the pasta maker told me that all three businesses were selling more products and making customers happy.  

The vendors achieved the simple but elegant solution stemmed by following six steps. These are the same six steps you can employ to meet your customers’ needs better. 

  1. Get Close – Step into your customer’s world to uncover insights. Observing from a distance can be helpful, but nothing beats getting close to customers.
  2. Watch Behaviors – Observe customer actions to learn their practices, workarounds, and issues. Asking good questions comes from better knowing your customer’s world.
  3. Uncover Needs – Engage customers in deeper conversation about why they are doing what they are doing. Give them time to process, dialogue, and respond.
  4. Assess Gaps – Determine how you and your team can take customers from where they are to where they want to be.
  5. Find Partners – Find partners who can help you to meet needs when your expertise or capabilities fall short.
  6. Create Solutions – Delight customers by bringing creative solutions to their actual needs. 

We have created a video and tool to help you put these six steps into practice. Use them to understand better and apply these lessons.  

In addition to working on your customer service skills, I invite you to also up your presentation game. This week’s podcast features author, producer, and director Tricia Brouk. She helps leaders to find and share their influential voices. In our conversation, we discuss how to overcome limitations, face fear, and act responsibly.


 Today’s Questions 

  1. What process do you and your team use to uncover and address customer needs?
  2. How well does the process serve you, your team, and your customers?
  3. How could you change the process to get better? 

Today’s Challenge 

Send today’s questions to your team members and ask each person to answer them briefly. Compare their responses to see differences and similarities. 

Episode 154: Step Into the Power of Your Voice with Award Winning Director, Author, and Producer Tricia Brouk

Customer-Service Farmers Market Infographic