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Fall, 2004 Newsletter - "Highlights
of the Upton Tea Survey"

I suppose no person ever enjoyed with more relish the infusion of that fragrant leaf than did Johnson.

-- James

    What have we learned?

   The motivation for conducting our first survey was simple; we wanted to learn more about our customers, their preferences, and their level of satisfaction with our products and service. With an organized approach to gathering and analyzing customer feedback we were able to achieve this goal in a timely manner.

   Some of the statistics that were gleaned from the survey are as follows: over 68% of respondents stated that they consumed three or more cups of tea per day, and a slight majority of respondents (53%) claimed a daily consumption of more than six cups. Coincidentally, 53% of the respondents stated that they have been drinking loose tea for over ten years! The vast majority (93%) of respondents stated that half or more of their tea consumption was from steeped loose-leaf tea. Finally, close to half (42%) of respondents were loose-leaf purists, consuming only loose-leaf tea.

   What does all this mean? Since we only sell loose tea, it does not come as a surprise to us that our customer base is comprised of experienced tea drinkers with a preference for loose tea. Our business is based on the assumption that there are enough dedicated loose tea drinkers in the U.S. to allow a few tea companies to thrive in this select market.

   The last part of the survey was intended to help us ensure that our customers will remain loyal and that we will continue to be the preferred source of loose-leaf tea for the discerning tea drinker. Our survey was quite helpful in this regard.

   Our preference would be that none of our customers ever experience a problem with an order, but problems are a fact of life. Almost 10% of respondents indicated that they experienced a problem of some kind with an order, such as late delivery, a lost order, an incorrect item in an order, and so forth.

   To put the error rate into perspective, most of our shipments are to customers that have ordered multiple times. Approximately 50% of our customers have ordered from us at least nine times, while approximately 30% of our customers have ordered from us in excess of fifty times! Typical errors are relatively random, and someone who orders frequently will have a higher probability of experiencing a problem. According to recent analysis, approximately 1% of our shipments have been problematic, which is consistant with what we gleaned from the survey.

   Of those who reported experiencing a problem, most (85%) were "totally satisfied" with the problem resolution, and typical comments on problem resolution were, "Tea never arrived. You were absolutely fantastic in quickly resending. Excellent!", and "The problem - a return - was handled courteously, professionally, and promptly, as has been characteristic of business with Upton!" Good news is always a pleasure to receive.

   Some of the problem resolutions were short of our customer's expectations. Approximately 5% were "mostly satisfied", 4% were "fairly satisfied", leaving 6% unsatisfied. Specific cases of dissatisfaction were thoroughly reviewed whenever we could identify the situation so we could improve our service in the future.

   It was reassuring to see that the vast majority of our customers (99.8%) would recommend us to a friend, with 83% saying they would recommend us "with enthusiasm". Our challenge over the coming months is to lower the number of problems that occur and to increase the number of problem resolutions that leave our customers "totally satisfied".

   When Upton Tea Imports was founded fifteen years ago there was little competition. Since then, a number of new tea companies have been formed and they would all like your business. We have eighteen dedicated employees that work every day to make sure you receive great teas and exceptional service at a fair price. You can be sure that your input will help us do our job even better!

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"Upton Tea Imports was founded in 1989 with the objective of providing the North American tea drinker with the finest teas available. We purchase teas from reputable brokers and estates worldwide, dealing only with sources who are capable of providing top quality teas. We sell directly to the consumer, thus ensuring the freshest product and fairest pricing."