"Professional, Sincere & Friendly"

You may be forgiven for driving past Countrylife Stoves on more than one occasion and not registering the venue’s product line, such is the understated exterior and the residential look of the building.  However, the ‘Stove & Fireplace’ business has been trading since 1978, so must be doing a lot of things right.  We sent our mystery shopper – Andy – in to warm up on a cold November day.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Situated on a busy spur into the town centre, the signage is somewhat lacking, with only one external sign that still doesn’t offer an explanation of the product on offer.  There are some additional window graphics providing clues, but you have to have a good look in the windows to get the full picture.  That stated, the building looks homely.  SCORE 3.5/5

GREETING

A gentleman was dealing with customers when I entered and didn’t acknowledge me, but very quickly, a lady came down to the shop floor from the mezzanine level and I was greeted with warmth, genuineness & professionalism.  SCORE 4.5/5

FACT FIND

The lady – by the name of Mitzi as I was to find out – asked me some detailed questions regarding my enquiry.  Through this, not only did Mitzi ensure that she had all of the information available to her to assist me, but showed a real desire to want to understand the background to my visit to her store.  At no point did I feel overwhelmed by this and I bought into Mitzi’s approach completely.  SCORE 5/5

PRODUCT LINE

The shop is well stocked with seemingly everything the relevant homeowner could want or need.  From stoves to fireplaces to ironware to decorative pieces to fuel, the store is brimming with products, but not to the detriment of the layout or the navigation.   SCORE 5/5

PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE

As Mitzi asked her questions and therefore got to hear more about my cottage in the countryside, I was offered option after option, but again, not to the detriment of each product, nor to my understanding of the advice being offered.  Mitzi skilfully worked out square footage (yes old school, but welcome!) versus output and displayed thorough knowledge at all times.  SCORE 5/5

OVERALL SERVICE

To me, it makes such a difference when - as a customer - I get the feeling that the sales adviser genuinely (and I’ll stress genuinely) wants to 1. Understand my needs and then 2. Offer advice based on those needs.  In sales, this process is known simply as ‘Needs Based Selling’.  With some ‘sick & slick’ salespeople, the training element is way too obvious.  However, Mitzi’s approach was both genuine and effortless; certainly not trained in to her.  I can honestly state that I have seldom been dealt with as professionally, sincerely & friendly.  My only negative from the visit was that at no point did Mitzi take my name or any of my contact details.  Had I been a ‘real’ customer, I would have wanted Mitzi to know my name at least and then ideally to have received a follow-up from my visit.  It may well be the firm’s policy not to follow up visits to the showroom, but if it is, then Mitzi’s excellent approach to customer service is, in my opinion, being unsupported somewhat.  This has also led to a score of 4, rather than 5.  SCORE 4/5

STANDARDS & DECOR

The showroom is inviting, well planned out and – with a roaring fire lit – very homely.  Everywhere is clean & tidy and the whole area is easy to navigate.  All internal signage/pricing is clear & obvious and the décor is very fit for purpose. SCORE 4.5/5

Mitzi is a credit to the business and is one of the best salespeople that I have dealt with in a long time; either in my ‘real life’, or as a very experienced mystery shopper. The venue may be understating itself locally, but once inside, this is a minor detail and you are made to feel welcome and valued. The knowledge shown is exemplary and whether you own an older style of property, or a modern home, if you already have - or have the ability to have - a fire or stove…..get yourself down to this store.
— overall score 4.3/5