Country Operation Manager, Jørgen Haukaas.

By improving the customer’s in-store experience, Plantasjen boosted earnings by NOK 80 million

The staff in Plantasjen stores now feel more confident in approaching customers. Last year, the percentage of customers who received assistance in Plantasjen stores increased by 10 percent, generating a total of NOK 80 million in increased sales for the chain.

Plantasjen now has a new mantra: “When the customer succeeds, so do we”.

Country Operation Manager Jørgen Haukaas explains that: “The use of the Maze system has made our employees much more aware.” He is responsible for management of Plantasjen shops in Norway, and monitors developments to ensure that customers have a positive experience in all stores.

The courage to approach and help customers

Plantasjen has 73 stores in Norway. Revenue has seen a positive development in recent years, and the trend is continuing upwards. One major driving force behind the positive development is the fact that the shop employees now approach the customer much more.

– “They talk with the customers and help them succeed with their projects. Our shop employees are also keen to share their own experiences. Training our employees to greet customers in this way provides us with ambassadors,” explains Jørgen Haukaas.

“Because when we have satisfied customers, they tend to become ambassadors and come back.

– We also have the potential for upselling, when the customer buys additional products,” he underlines.

Before Maze was introduced, the shop assistants at Plantasjen stores were in general more hesitant when customers visited the stores.

“Daily feedback from actual customers who have visited Plantasjen the day or week before has provided deeper insight for every Plantasjen store. The system also provides us with information on differences between the stores,” says Jørgen Haukaas.

10% increase in customers who received assistance, NOK 80 million in increased sales

Experience has shown that when shop employees at Plantasjen offer the customers assistance, 80% of these customers become ambassadors. This percentage is only 50% for customers who do not receive assistance. This statistic alone encourages the stores to focus more on approaching customers and providing assistance.

It is all a question of feeling confident when approaching customers.

“The shop employees have to think about what the customer needs to succeed. That is the most important keyword for us. When the customer succeeds, so do we,” Jørgen Haukaas says.

In 2021, Plantasjen had a 10 percent increase in the number of customers who received assistance. This implies approx. one million customers who, on average, purchase goods for NOK 80 or more.

Relevant feedback

Loyal customers who are members of the customer club receive a message the day after visiting a store, asking about their experiences and why they visited Plantasjen.

“We receive replies to questions and responses in the form of free text. Each store receives direct and very relevant feedback.”

The customers’ feedback is reviewed in the store. “When we receive positive feedback, we continue and build upon what we are doing. And when we get feedback that is not positive, we discuss what happened so that we can deal with the situation,” confirms Jørgen Haukaas.

Getting ahead of the game

Jørgen Haukaas explains that Plantasjen focuses on being ahead of the game when it comes to the assistance they believe the customer needs. In the spring, the customers are mainly interested in seeds.

The level of interest in homes and gardens remains high. Planting and cultivating have seen an increase in popularity, both indoors in the kitchen, on the terrace and in the garden. Self-subsistence is increasingly popular, for example growing potatoes in your own garden.

Customer requirements change with the seasons, and shop employee training is therefore adapted throughout the year.

Positive employees

All store managers and permanent employees use the app, and Jørgen Haukaas explains that the employees have been positive to using it:

– It was launched in the middle of the pandemic. The employees were quick to start using it, and it immediately put a focus on daily activities and helping each other improve.

They receive a lot of feedback, which is confirmation of the system's utility value.

– We spend a lot of time and resources on this, but we feel confident that the results and insight we gain justify the hard work involved.

The feedback is normally used during the morning meetings before the shop opens. Use of the system also triggers a competitive instinct, according to Jørgen Haukaas.

“Everyone wants to be best. It’s all about making sure everyone develops. The best employees are often best in terms of all criteria. We want everyone to grow. We aim to share experiences, ideas and advice between all the shops.” In summary, the Country Operation Manager says that Plantasjen is happy to have introduced the system for daily training:

“We are very happy with Maze. For us, it’s a simple way to get feedback from actual customers who have visited our stores. It allows us to adapt how our employees conduct themselves and to share positive activities that work. Primarily, it’s all about offering assistance to more customers.”

– Customers who are offered assistance are satisfied customers

Three years ago, Plantasjen implemented a new system for customer feedback and training of shop employees.

– “With the new system, Maze, we get direct feedback from our customers and therefore have much closer contact with them so that we can continuously make necessary adjustments. We now know what our customers really think about us,” says Merete Fyhn. She has been the General Manager of the Plantasjen store in Skedsmo for 11 years.

She is in no doubt that offering customers assistance in the store results in more satisfied customers who give the store a higher score.

– Such customers describe a completely different experience in the store than customers who are not offered assistance and did not have contact with any of the shop employees. This allows us to measure whether we are doing the right things to keep our customers satisfied,” confirms the General Manager.

She goes on to say that they have seen an increase in the percentage of customers who use the new system. The employees at the cash register encourage customers to provide feedback.

Focus on the customer, and answers from the system

Plantasjen made the decision to train staff to welcome customers by focusing fully on the customer in every way.

– “The customer has first priority, and we aim to clearly demonstrate that we truly appreciate that the customer has visited our store. We make use of Maze to see which initiatives have a positive result. This is a very efficient system for rapid feedback,” explains Merete Fyhn.

Previously, Plantasjen made use of mystery shoppers and their own customer surveys, but Maze provides a more rapid and clearer result. According to Merete Fyhn, all the employees have recognised the value of the new system. None of the employees were apprehensive about the new system.

– Gaining immediate feedback is valuable, irrespective of whether the customer has been satisfied or not with their experience in the store. “When we receive criticism, we can make necessary changes. It's also important to make sure we discuss negative customer experiences to help each other improve,” she says.

Important morning meetings

The Plantasjen store in Skedsmo has a total of 80 shop assistants. In Maze, the store’s General Manager can see which employees have used the system to view the results, and can read feedback from individual customers. Every morning, the staff have a meeting to discuss customer responses, and this is a great opportunity to give each other feedback.

The customers’ responses are read out loud.

“And then we talk about how we should make changes,” says Merete Fyhn. The staff also use the morning meetings as a form of training in relation to aspects involved in the customer feedback.

The training is adapted throughout the year based on the products sold in the different seasons.

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