Terra Organics 2011 Survey Report

By April 14, 2011Terra Organics News

We want to thank the more than 500 people who responded to our most recent Terra Organics survey. Your feedback allows us to review how we have been doing as of late and to give us direction for how to improve our operations to ensure that you are getting the best of good food from healthy farms.

Most of you who responded are current Terra Organics customers; a few of you are not, but are still getting our newsletters. We hope the information in the survey enticed a few people to come back to the Terra Organics fold!  Of those who took the time to respond, more than 40% have been with us for a year or more. We are glad to see this longevity and are honored that so many of you find our service worthy of your continued commitment even in these tougher economic times.  And yet, despite the current economic challenges – or maybe because of them – many of you listed ‘support of local/organic farms’ as the primary reason you choose to receive Terra Organics. We think that’s great. Thank you.

A majority of those who selected ‘other’ listed the freshness and quality of our produce as a reason to receive Terra Organics.  Other recurring reasons listed include the fact that we deliver a CSA box to homes and accept EBT cards (food stamps) as a form of payment.  And here are a few quotes we liked:

“…not having to take fruit crazed children through the produce aisles”.

“…getting different varieties of produce which you might not think to buy at the store.”

“…If the vegetables are at my house, I will eat them.”

“…Detest going to the grocery store :o(”

Word of mouth continues to be our most effective form of advertising with 47% of respondents saying they first heard of our services from someone they knew. The second most popular place people hear (see) about us is online while searching for CSA’s, organic produce, and organic produce home delivery. Our run with groupon last year has also resulted in some customer retention with 15% of respondents reporting to be customers who continued our service after redeeming their groupon.

It is nice to know that word of mouth is still the most effective form of advertising, and these results have inspired us to develop a stronger referral program that provides higher incentives to our customers who share their Terra Organics experiences with others. Stay tuned for more information!


Only 30% of our respondents said that they had subscribed to a CSA or produce home delivery company before coming to Terra Organics. Of these, two-thirds said they like us better than services they had used before.

Of those that had tried another service, the majority had previously used Full Circle. Of those, 84% think that our service is comparable or better.  One big difference that may influence these opinions is our $25.00 minimum for home delivery versus their $37.00 minimum, with many telling us that the value is the #1 reason they decided to switch and, ultimately, stay with us.

What else makes us different?

When we asked customers what, in their opinion, sets Terra Organics apart from others, 119 people responded. Of these, here are most common reasons they provided:

  • We are a local business and farm.
  • Our quality is higher than other services they have tried.
  • Our customer service is responsive, professional and kind.
  • We have a local box option.
  • We do home delivery.

Here are some quotes we gathered from the responses to this question:

“The biggest difference is that you deliver directly to our house, whereas we had to go to a drop-off site on a specific date/time with Full Circle. Now that you’ve updated your ordering system, we couldn’t be happier. We have lots of control over what items we get in our box AND it’s delivered to our front door. We are also looking forward to trying the CSA from Tahoma Farms for the first time this summer!!”

“I like the connection to Tahoma Farms, and being able to up the items from local places by looking at the food mileage distance.”

“Your caring and support and responsive customer service are excellent and unusual! Also, I can always depend on the high quality of your food and the variety has almost made going to a market unnecessary!!”

Terra Organics web-store

Even though a lot of you said it took a couple of visits until the new interface became easy to navigate, the fact that only 4% said it was confusing is a great sign.  Our new interface, designed and supported by Farmigo, is proving to be everything we hoped it would be, especially in terms of providing you with the ability to easily modify and manage your orders. There are definitely some areas that are still a work in progress. One key area that is vital to our vision is the producer/origin information attached to each item in the webstore. Our objective is to give you as much information as possible about where each produce item comes from so that you can spend your dollars exactly as you wish. Updating these links is an ongoing process and we are doing our best to keep this up to date, and as comprehensive as possible.

Although most of you responded that you felt you had enough time each week to access the webstore, 1 in 5 of you would like more time. There are a number of factors that determine how soon we can open the webstore each week. These include the time it takes to not only find and choose the items for the boxes and webstore on a week to week basis, but also to set pricing, find vendors, and confirm availability (so that we don’t oversell items).  Having stated this, we agree that more time to access the webstore is needed, and we are determined to find way to make this happen.  And soon!

For those of you who are accessing the webstore consistently, it shows. As of this week 60% of our customers are customizing their orders!

On a side note-several of you asked about the deletions list. In our old system, a list was provided on the website from which you could check all the types of produce to be left out of your deliveries. Each day, we manually compared those lists to our standard box contents. If deletions were necessary, we manually chose substitutions for you and figured out the value. This was kind of fun for us, but it took A LOT of time. Besides wanting to spend more time improving other areas of the business, one of our greatest reasons for moving to the new interface was to have a webstore where everything is itemized and transparent. Our hope and vision is for you to easily manage your box contents by taking a moment to log into your Terra Organics account before each delivery. Some benefits of taking the tme include that fact that you gain access to our whole inventory, you order only those items you want, and it helps make your meal planning that much more efficient.

For those who are accessing the webstore, here’s some data on how different elements of our webstore affect their decisions:


We want you to be completely satisfied with freshness and quality 100% of the time.  You already know that we deal with a highly perishable product, and certain items like berries and local peaches and other soft fruits are going to be more susceptible to spoilage than anything else. We believe that this high standard is worth our constant and continued effort.  A top daily priority is therefore prevention: by maintaining the cold chain, we extend the life of the fruits and vegetables after they are harvested.  Since we presell all of our produce each week, we don’t have to stock any store shelves for projected demand.  We reduce the time that elapses between when a product is harvested and when it is delivered to you by coordinating directly with growers to ensure the freshness of the product they are sending to us.

Currently, two out of four of our vehicles are refrigerated and in all of them we use thermal blankets to insulate the boxes in transport. These measures, as well as streamlining processes in our warehouse so that produce is out of the cooler for as little time as possible, are all part of a constantly evolving equation that we are going to continue to maintain and improve.

One likely improvement will be the option of insulated coolers. With over 200 of respondents stating they would be interested in making a deposit of $20, we are moving forward with this idea and researching our options. With all this being said, we are grateful to hear that 87% of you report being completely satisfied with the quality and freshness of your box more than 90% of the time.

Your satisfaction with accuracy was also good to hear. As many of you know, making the transition from packing mostly standard boxes, to customizing 60% of our orders has been no small feat, but it looks like we are moving in the right direction.

Almost 90% of respondents think that our variety is excellent, with a few comments that point out the lack of variety and sometimes freshness specifically in the winter months. Although the clear preference among you is local over variety (over 50%), local is limited in the winter and not always of the highest quality due to time spent in storage and other seasonal/regional factors. To be able to offer variety we buy from CA and beyond knowing that those products have been out of the ground longer than local products would be during the local season. Once again, maintaining the cold chain, communicating with growers and better inventory management are some of the areas that require our constant attention to achieve our goal to provide you with 100% freshness and quality 100% of the time.

To achieve this goal, your feedback is also critical which means that anytime you have an issue with quality we need to know about it. Why?  So we can make sure you are not paying for something you cannot eat, and so we know where to take direct and immediate action.


How many of you are not familiar with the term CSA (community supported agriculture)? We clarified the philosophy and practice in our last newsletter, and how it applies and does not apply to Terra Organics and Tahoma Farms. If you missed it you can read about it here on our blog.

Interest in our CSA was expressed by a quarter of our respondents who indicated a willingness to support the farm by making a prepayment this spring. So far, only half of you that said you were going to sign up have actually made that commitment. We know we’ve talked about it a lot lately, and this will be the last time we will put it out there, but if you are still interested, click here. For those who have signed up, thank you! We look forward to sharing our first harvest with you!

Customer service

All in all, it looks like most of you are happy with the level of customer service we provide. One worrisome result is that only 44% of respondents say that they always report their issues to us. This number is far too low. It is important that you contact us if you have a quality issue because, as we stated earlier, this gives us the opportunity to make sure you are not paying for an item you cannot use, and it also lets us know where we need to make real time adjustments.

Our quality control depends on your feedback. We understand that it may be inconvenient to let us know that you received a pear you had to throw out. But it just takes a moment to pick up the phone and leave us a message, or send us a quick email.  Your sentences don’t even have to be complete. Here’s our contact information again: 253-627-1581; info@terraorganic.wpengine.com.


And finally, your responses confirm what we already know about our delivery drivers: they complete the final step in getting you your order in a safe, courteous and professional manner. As in all areas of our service, your feedback on our delivery is also critical. Keep us informed of any special delivery instructions you’d like our drivers to know about!

Winner announced!

We are happy to announce that Steven Q. won this year’s survey credit of $100. Thanks Steve, and everyone who spent a few of their valuable moments to give us your helpful feedback.

One last thing:

In your survey text responses, many of you offered us great ideas for changes or improvements, or posed questions or concerns relating to your service. We are just about finished responding to those who requested a personal response from us. If you have not heard from us, and have a question or issue that requires our attention, please get in touch with us right away. Thanks again!


Author Terra

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