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

EmployeesOABA Program Develops Future Generation Of Agribusiness Leaders
September 29, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association will select up to 25 promising leaders to participate in a leadership enhancement program early next Read More
ManagementThoughts on CropLife America and the PSM Appeal
September 29, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the recent CropLife America annual meeting and the successful appeal of the Read More
Young Corn Field
StewardshipStudy: Ohio Farmers Doing ‘A Good Job Of Managing’ Phosphorus Levels
September 27, 2016
Leaders from Ohio’s largest grain farming organizations announced today that Ohio farmers are doing their part in effectively managing phosphorus Read More
StewardshipMonsanto Invests $1.6 Million In System To Quantify Greenhouse Gas Reductions
September 23, 2016
The USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its Soil Health Read More
Trending Articles
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsBayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger: 6 Things You Need To Know
September 14, 2016
Mega mergers have become almost routine in the agricultural industry. Right on the heels of Monday’s news that fertilizer giants Potash Read More
Potash Corp Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium, Potash Corp To Merge To Create $36 Billion Company
September 12, 2016
Canada’s Agrium Inc. and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc. have agreed to combine in a deal that would create a Read More
Osage Co-op Elevator Osage, IA Finished Building
OpinionAre We Crazy?
September 8, 2016
At some point in the first few months of my employment here at CropLife® magazine, I started getting curious about Read More
ManagementMAGIE 2016 Highlights and Deere Anti-Trust
September 1, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj discusses the recent Midwest AG Industries Exposition and the Department of Justice’s objection to John Deere Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
Latest News
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
CropLife 100Farmers Union Oil Co. Votes To Join CHS
September 30, 2016
Eligible voting members of Farmers Union Oil Co., a diversified agricultural retailer based out of Oslo, MN, have cast affirmative Read More
EmployeesOABA Program Develops Future Generation Of Agribusiness…
September 29, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association will select up to 25 promising leaders to participate in a leadership enhancement program early next Read More
ManagementThoughts on CropLife America and the PSM Appeal
September 29, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the recent CropLife America annual meeting and the successful appeal of the Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsMarrone Bio Innovations’ SVP And Chief Sustainability O…
September 29, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc., a leading provider of effective and environmentally responsible pest management and plant health products, announced today Read More
Young Corn Field
StewardshipStudy: Ohio Farmers Doing ‘A Good Job Of Managing…
September 27, 2016
Leaders from Ohio’s largest grain farming organizations announced today that Ohio farmers are doing their part in effectively managing phosphorus Read More
Growmark FS Outlet
Industry NewsGROWMARK To Purchase Suncor’s Share Of UPI
September 26, 2016
GROWMARK and Suncor have reached an agreement in which GROWMARK will purchase Suncor’s 50% interest in UPI, Inc. in Ontario, Read More
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Syngenta Seedcare Institute
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Opens New North America Seedcare Institute In …
September 23, 2016
Syngenta unveiled its new Seedcare Institute in Stanton, MN, during a recent grand opening celebration. More than 150 industry leaders, Read More
StewardshipMonsanto Invests $1.6 Million In System To Quantify Gre…
September 23, 2016
The USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its Soil Health Read More
Pipe rack
LegislationCourt Sides With Ag Retailers On PSM
September 23, 2016
The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when Read More
ManagementPacific Coast Fertilizer Announces Interest In Longview…
September 22, 2016
Pacific Coast Fertilizer LP (PCF) announced at the Cowlitz Economic Development Council board of directors meeting its interest in developing Read More
Young corn plants in soil
UncategorizedCool Planet Raises Additional $9 Million To Commerciali…
September 22, 2016
Cool Planet has announced the first close of a new financing round to commercialize the company’s Cool Terra Engineered Biocarbon Read More
Crop InputsJim Loar Promoted To President And CEO Of Cool Planet
September 22, 2016
In a move that reflects and reinforces the company’s commitment to the agricultural market, the Cool Planet board of directors Read More
BlendersNorth Dakota Coop Debuts Dry Fertilizer Plant
September 22, 2016
North Central Grain Cooperative has begun operations at a new dry fertilizer plant at its Rolla, ND, site. It is Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, Bayer Officials Defend Proposed $66 Billion M…
September 21, 2016
Top officials for Monsanto and Bayer defended their proposed $66 billion merger before skeptical senators on Tuesday, insisting that the Read More
ManagementUpcoming Shows & Recent Events
September 19, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about upcoming trade shows and events and review the Mid America CropLife Association Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Appoints New CEO
September 19, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences, a plant health and nutrition company, today announced that its board of directors has named Kenneth M. Avery Read More
Corn
Crop InputsEPA Settles With Syngenta For Alleged Multi-Regional Pe…
September 19, 2016
The U.S. EPA has announced a multi-region settlement with Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC (Syngenta) in Greensboro, NC, for alleged violations of Read More