Final Blog: Service in Costa Rica

My team’s topic was service which deals with how companies can maintain returning customers and produce a product people actually want. Throughout our trip, we have taken many tours which showcase a different part of the coffee supply chain. This is what I’ve learned about each step in the chain as it relates to my topic.

On the farm there are many ways to keep customers coming back and it is primarily through quality control measures. Coffee plantations have many ways to keep all of their coffee healthy and free from disease. Some plantations use chemical herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides while others use the organic version of each. By using organic methods to produce coffee or being somewhat contentious of the environment companies can obtain certifications such as the RainForest Alliance certification or organic certification. This may leave a lasting impact on customers because it may impress them the coffee plantations are taking strides to protect the forest and the wildlife which inhabits them. Additionally, farms use people to pick their coffee and I feel that there is a stereotypical assumption that products which are done by hand are more personal or high-quality.

Processing mills and exporters take the newly harvested coffee and separate it by its quality. The first test separates the beans based off of their densities. This guarantees that the quality of each bean of coffee is the same in each bag. Customers can be certain the bag of coffee they intend to buy completely contains the expected quality of bean. Beans are then sent through multiple tests which sort them by size. By using multiple tests the plantation ensures every bean has a fair assessment. Even if a bean fails the first test, there is a possibility it is still of a different quality bean. The second test cements this decision.

Coffee roasters and retail stores/cafes mostly guarantee the return of customers through branding techniques where they influence consumers to have a positive perception of their business model. Some coffee roasters can get customers to keep returning by a wide outreach of advertisements; advertisements can follow the consumers so as to make them continually think about the company. Companies can also make accessing their product extremely easy. They may do this by opening a website where orders can be taken from anywhere, creating programs with installment plans or the ability to rent a product. This can help consumers who may need help paying for a particular product or wants to try out the product before actually buying it. Companies can also create a lasting memory by establishing an experience for the consumers. Larger, multi-national companies can personalize their stores depending on the target demographic. If the store is targeting tourists they can market themselves as being the embodiment of everything well-known or good in the country. They may personalize their stores to have items specific to each country and change the labeling in their bags to feature images of National landmarks or symbols.

Customers are the main focal point when it comes to service. So as a recap for all the measures that are taken in the earlier steps of the supply chain here are the many ways customers can be influenced to return to and buy a product from a company. Usually a customer will return because they were impressed with the business and how they operated. Consumers can be enticed to buy a product because of its perceived quality. To build a reputation of quality is very important. This is a great way of inexpensive marketing. If the company is notorious for quality it is likely to be advertised by word-of-mouth. Also, customers want consistency in their coffee; they want to be able to expect the quality of the coffee when they buy a product a particular company. Customers can also be influenced by the ease of purchase. E-commerce is a great way to positively influence a customer based on the ease of buying a product. The consumer can also be influenced by the bag of coffee. Maybe it has imaging from a country’s symbol and they, as a tourist, are interested in experiencing the country in a very short time. They may believe a company’s product is an important step in experiencing the country. Also, labeling which is suggestive of sustainability-related certificates can be enticing because it can draw a customer in to recognize the company is aware of the struggles of the environment and express a concern to limit their impact. In addition to the overall atmosphere of the purchase, in-person stores are also a great way to influence a customer. They need to provide a unique experience and have good employees. The company should be interested in educating the consumers on how their product is made and have helpful customer service to ensure each customer gets what they want.

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