Garden centres told 'be more like Apple retail stores'

Garden centres need to be more like Apple retail stores, consultant Doug Stewart has recommended.

Doug Stewart said: "I think Apple have everything right with customer service and I love the idea of the Genius Bar where you book ahead and have one-to-one time with someone who knows what they’re doing. Why not in garden centres? All Apple staff are passionate about their products in the store. The have developed a deep longing for the products. You go into an Apple store and see the new ipod and the members of staff are drooling, saying they want one. You don’t have that in garden centres.

"You get to play with the product - Apple stores are hands-on. I even love the T-shirts they wear sayng ‘not all heroes wear capes’ on the helpdesk. If people are coming in and struggling with pests and diseases in their garden, garden centres should have staff with similar things on their T-shirts, such as ‘I could talk about this stuff for hours’.

"It’s about the enthusiasm for the products that Apple show consistently across the brand. If I pay by credit card they know I’m a member of the Apple family. I went to get a computer mended and thought that while garden centres have loyalty schemes, do we say to someone ‘you are a good garden centre customer, you have bought a lot so we will pick up your faulty garden furniture and repair it'? Do we have the same ability to use customer technology to deliver that level of customer service?"

Stewart added: "One thing I like at Apple in Oxford Street is the '10 things you didn't know you could do with your iphone' 10-minute seminars. Garden centres ask me to do demonstrations but what does that say about their abilities? Their staff should be experts."

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