The Customer Corridor

Recently, I came across something called the Edelman Trust Barometer, published by the public relations firm of the same name. I wasn’t surprised to learn that across the globe, most people trust companies less this year than they did the year before. Imagine that! Leading companies from every sector of the economy have recklessly squandered their most precious asset, the trust of their customers. Customers know that actions speak louder than words, and the actions of many companies have been profoundly lacking.

We are now in a new world where there is an abundance of low hanging fruit for retailers who are willing to differentiate themselves on customer experience. Providing your customers with exceptional experiences is the hardest thing for competitors to imitate. This month, we continue our discussion of becoming truly customer focused by measuring their experiences, and then retuning your service delivery to more effectively meet expectations.

Last month, we discussed two types of customer experience measurement. Relationship measurements look at the whole relationship you have with customers. Transactional measurements are more narrow in scope, and as the name suggests they look at day-to-day encounters with customers. Both types of measurement will help you quantify how your customers perceive you relative to your competitors.

I had an interesting meeting with a very large retailer this month that highlighted the difference between a transactional and relationship issue. Like many retailers, the company purchased a significant amount of fertilizer for last fall and this spring prior to the collapse of prices. Unfortunately, the retailer now has a lot of high-value inventory in a lower-priced market. Our discussions, naturally, turned to the reaction of its customers as the company attempts to capture at least some of the value of its fertilizer product. The fear was that customers are angry and may potentially defect in large numbers.

“Why measure customer experience?” a company representative asked. “We know our customers are upset with us.” It is a good example of the difference between a transactional evaluation of your customer experience and a relational measurement of their experience that spans several years.

Strategically, many retailers are worried in this climate. I suggest that those that who have built deep customer equity based on providing a superior experience will continue to do well, and will likely grow market share at the expense of competitors who have not built customer equity.

Corridor Thinking

Now back to this month’s topic, which is mapping your Customer Corridor. Identifying your customer corridor is a way to see your company from your customer’s perspective. It helps you see what is important to customers and what is not. Properly done, you will identify areas where changes in your service delivery can be made at both the transactional and strategic, i.e., relationship levels. Your customer corridor represents your customer’s end-to-end experience with you during the crop year. Ag retailing is a perfect model for the customer corridor because the cycle repeats itself each year, so once improvement areas are identified they can be implemented for the following season, or perhaps sooner.

AgKnowlogy‘s Plan and Connect workshop helps retailers identify their customer corridor. We believe it is important to involve everyone in the company that touches a customer during the crop year. Getting everybody involved increases the creativity level, and ensures the customer experience is seen from a wide perspective. As you get into the exercise, you will want to be very specific on how you interact with customers. At first, the more detail, the better. You can eliminate and narrow down the corridor as you work on it. In our Customer Experience Monitor, AgKnowlogy works with clients to define the customer corridor that is appropriate for their business. As a suggestion, you might want to look at your service delivery under the headings shown in the diagram. I have included a few customer experiences as examples.

The Net Promoter concept we have been discussing fits seamlessly with the customer corridor. Properly set up, you can start to identify reasons why customers are Promoters, Passives, or Detractors. Remember — the percentage of Promoters within your business is important for several reasons. Most importantly, Promoters are an ongoing source of referrals that will grow your business more reliably than any sales or marketing program. Detractors, on the other hand, are a drain on your income. Measuring customer experience along your customer corridor will identify what experiences create Promoters and which experiences create Detractors.

I promise you this is one of the best things you can do in these uncertain times to differentiate your business, and gain market share from competitors. I wish you the best for the busy spring season.

Leave a Reply

Management Stories
ManagementMACA 2014: The State Of The Agricultural Industry, And Then Some
October 9, 2014
The trade association’s annual gathering featured speakers from across agriculture and beyond. Read More
StewardshipA Multi-Layered Approach To Water Quality
October 6, 2014
Illinois event highlights research and technology designed to better monitor and improve water quality — and the benefits of cooperative, coordinated effort. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
ManagementRussia Bans U.S. And EU Ag Product Imports In Ukraine Sanctions Battle
August 7, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned the import of agricultural goods from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unification Approved By Board, Still Awaits Member Approval
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
Latest News
ManagementA New Sprayer Company & UAV Research In The Spotlig…
May 21, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a Dutch sprayer manufacturer entering the U.S. with a super-sized entry and Read More
HerbicidesFirst U.S. Sale Of Enlist Duo Herbicide Made By Dow Agr…
May 21, 2015
Dow AgroSciences has recorded the first U.S. sale of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. This marks the first commercial Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manu…
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
EquipmentNORAC Options Coming To TerraGator
May 19, 2015
Utilizing NORAC’s Standard Control technology, boom height control is now available for TerraGators with Airmax Precision 2 and Benson Booms. This Read More
Crop InputsHelena Introduces New Soil Health Product
May 19, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. is helping agricultural producers maximize yields and efficiency with the introduction of Liquid Chisel, a new product Read More
Stewardship4R Nutrient Management Planning Certification Now Avail…
May 19, 2015
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) program announce a new specialty certification in Read More
Environmental Defense Fund logo
Paul SchrimpfEnvironmental Defense Fund: Appreciating Partners
May 19, 2015
I WAS deep in the throes of preparation for the Commodity Classic meeting that took place this past February, trying Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
May 19, 2015
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Syngenta Sign
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Lawyer’s Victory Claim In Vi…
May 18, 2015
A plaintiff’s lawyer has issued a public statement claiming that damages have been awarded in the Agrisure Viptera corn lawsuits Read More
StewardshipCould Australian Water Trading Approach Fit In Californ…
May 18, 2015
Ten years of drought isn’t a good thing. It doesn’t help the bottom line of farmers or the health of Read More
SpreadersDutch Sprayer Manufacturer To Enter U.S. Market
May 18, 2015
Dutch self-propelled sprayer manufacturer Agrifac Machinery has announced intentions to enter the U.S. market with two models of sprayers available Read More
FertilizerTFI Weighs In On Fertilizer Rail Transport Bill
May 14, 2015
With today’s House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as a backdrop, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) registered its support for policies Read More
ManagementA Visit To The 2015 Environmental Respect Spirit Award …
May 14, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a recent visit to the CPS Spirit winner in St. Stephen’s Church, Read More
StewardshipBayer Entomologist Issues Statement On Annual Honeybee …
May 13, 2015
Richard (Dick) Rogers, Principal Scientist / Entomologist, Bayer Bee Care Center for Bayer CropScience LP, today issued the following statement Read More
Crop InputsKansas State Researchers Announce Resistant Kochia Brea…
May 13, 2015
Kansas State University researchers say new research helps explain why an invasive weed is developing resistance to a well-known herbicide, Read More
RR2X soybeans surround untreated check (center)
HerbicidesUSDA Study: Glyphosate Application More Prevalent In So…
May 13, 2015
Glyphosate—known by many trade names, including Roundup—has been the most widely used pesticide in the United States since 2001. It Read More
AdjuvantsHelena Chemical Introduces New Drift Control Adjuvant J…
May 13, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. introduces Justified, an innovative drift control agent designed to improve the performance and precision of spray applications Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unificati…
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More