Every Employee Is in Customer Service

One of the most critical concepts to convey to the employees of a hor­ticultural enterprise is that everyone is involved in customer service. While sales people and on-site foremen readily grasp the concept, others who do not have direct contact with customers may not under­stand. The leaders and managers of the business must convey to all employees that whether answering the telephone, digging a plant in the field, repairing a chainsaw in the shop, moving the cup on a golf green, or unpacking a case of cut flowers, each is contributing to the ultimate satisfaction of the person who will receive the product or service in its final form.


Human relations in a horticultural business involves the management, the employees, and the customers in an interdependent association.

Personnel management is the direction of workers in a manner that brings out their best efforts and attitudes on behalf of the business. Good supervisors are able to set realistic expectations of their employ­ees, taking into account each worker’s individual abilities and limita­tions, educational and work experience, and potential. Employees may be career-directed, part-time, or temporary seasonal.

Most people respond in a positive manner to a supervisor who exemplifies decisiveness, competency, fairness, sincerity, understand­ing, and respect for the employees, offering praise and reward when warranted and delivering directions thoroughly. Employees can also be expected to react negatively to a supervisor who frequently displays inflexibility, partiality, a condescending attitude, indifference, or sar­casm, or one who gives subjective criticism or applies double standards in adherence to company policies.

Communication can be complicated by differences of age, edu­cation, sex, ethnic background, or status within the company. The supervisor must usually seek to open the channels of communication when problems arise, rather than waiting for the problems to resolve themselves.

Because sales are intimately related to customer good will, the sales staff must be trained to promote both simultaneously. Good sales­people offer a customer friendliness, helpful assistance, a knowledge of the materials and services sold, honesty, and courtesy, and they exhibit good grooming and correct speech. Successful sales are those that result in satisfied customers who got what they came for and perhaps even more, but did not spend more than they could afford, and will return again for future purchases.



Answer each of the following questions as briefly as possible.

1. Define personnel management.

2. Indicate if the following apply to career – directed employees (C), part-time employees (P), and/or temporary seasonal employees (T).

a. The employee may be loyal but not expect major leadership responsibilities.

b. The employee is hired during busy periods and released after the rush is over.

c. They are expected only to do a few tasks competently.

d. The employee hopes to spend several years with the company and to advance within the organization.

e. These are usually the most personally ambitious employees.

3. List ways customers may differ depending on the type of horticulture business.

4. List the qualities of a good supervisor.

5. List the qualities of a poor supervisor.

6. List the characteristics of good salespeople.

7. Describe the procedures for effective selling.


Assume that you are preparing to conduct a training session on customer service for selected employees of the company. Attending the train­ing session will be the receptionist, accountant, delivery person, sales representative, designer, and shop mechanic. Prepare a briefessay explain­ing how you would convince each of them of the important role he or she plays in customer service.


Upon completion of this chapter, you should be able to

• select and explain the reason for the most appropriate form of communication for specific business needs.

• compose a correct and effective business letter.

• place a business telephone call correctly.

• answer a business call correctly.




The businesses of ornamental horticulture are varied, yet most remain very customer centered. Unlike many other businesses in which the final recipients of the company’s products are seldom seen by the per­sons who produced them, the customers of florists, nurseries, green­houses, and landscape firms are frequently seen and nearly always known by employees of the company. Even the suppliers and com­petitors of horticulture companies are often familiar names and faces to members of the staff. That familiarity is an asset because it minimizes misunderstanding. With a smile, a handshake, a specific inflection of the voice, or the reply to a question, a person is able to convey or clarify a message. Take away one or more of those attributes of the one-to-one contact, and problems may arise. Without an accompanying smile or the touch of a handshake, a written agreement can sound suspicious. Without the opportunity to ask a question, a mistake can be made in filling an order. Without understanding the sensitivity of a person to the propriety of how a message is sent, an unintentional affront can be felt.

Therefore, business communications become extensions of the people who represent the company. They must be done with clarity and profes­sionalism if they are to come close to simulating the personal contact that they replace.

Updated: October 11, 2015 — 5:32 pm