Taking Action With Customer Measurements

As I read the financial news, much of the buzz is on layoffs, loans, restructuring, and in ag, inventory write downs. I hear talk of workers, but not of customers. So I am thinking, how customers will emerge from the recession? Here are some predictions.

Your customers will be less trusting at the end of this recession than they were, say, 18 months ago. Consequently, many retailer/grower relationships will be re-evaluated in light of the economic pressures we are facing.

What an opportunity to forge ahead and create a sustainable advantage over your competitors! The best retailers will use this time of turbulence to do three very smart things. First, they will focus on rediscovering the priorities of their top customers. Next, they will learn how their customers (and prospects) rank their day-to-day performance on these priorities. Finally, they will use this time of turbulence to realign their company from top to bottom to more effectively deliver outstanding customer experiences.

I have been describing a process called the Customer Experience Monitor that helps companies become more aligned with their customers. Leading companies such as Dell Computer, Harley Davidson, and LEGO are using customer experience measurements to learn what is important to their customers, and then take action to consi

stently deliver outstanding customer experiences. Over the next few months, I’ll discuss strategies to help you take action from your customer experience measurements.

EXECUTIVE
LEVEL
LINE
MANAGERS
 FRONT LINE
Customer Experience as
competitive differntiation.
Manage service
delivery. 
Neutralize Detractors. 
Promote customer
centric culture. 
Create goals for
customer experiences.
Improve relationships. 
Promote customer
centric culture.
Create goals for
customer experiences.
Organizational learning to
create Promoters.
Champion customer focus
in organization. 
Cross functional
collaboration.
Take corrective action.
Use follow-up to "delight." 

Levels Of Action

In most companies, there are three levels where your “taking action” strategy needs to be developed and implemented: General Management, Line Management (Agronomy, Grain, Energy, or Feed) and the Front Line. The diagram shows some areas staff in each area need to focus if you are going to become aligned with customers.

General Management must set the overall direction for creating a customer-centric culture, and hold Line Managers (Agronomy, Grain, Energy, Feed, Equipment, etc.) accountable for improving the customer experience. Most agribusinesses believe they are already customer centric. Compared to companies of similar size in other areas however, many agribusinesses don’t have strategies and processes in place to delivery outstanding customer experiences. If I was an embedded observer in your company for six weeks, what would I conclude? If I did not attend any meetings where the customer experience was the top priority or didn’t hear any initiatives or participate in team meetings to improve customer experiences, I would have to conclude you haven’t achieved a customer-centric culture. More likely, the culture would be focused on operations and products. General Management is responsible for company culture.

Line Managers work directly with Front Line staff to implement your culture on a day-to-day basis. Continuing my embedded observer analogy, I would want to see Front Line mangers not only managing the company’s operations, I would want examples of cross-functional collaboration to improve the customer experience. If I stayed long enough, my manager would review my own goals and progress toward creating outstanding customer experiences.

Taking Action on customer experience measurements typically starts with the Front Line because they have the most contact with customers, and this represents your area of quickest wins. You need to consider the following in designing your customer outreach strategy for the Front Line:
■ Which customers should receive a follow-up?
■ Who should conduct the follow-up?
■ When should the follow-up occur?
■ What should happen after the follow-up?
■ How should the follow-up be handled?

GOAL FOLLOW-UP WITH… REDESIGN SERVICE
Neutralize Detractors.  Detractors.  Begin with most dissatisfied
Detractors (0-3 on recommend
scale). As your process gains mo-
mentum, incorporate all Detractors. 
Optimize Customer
Experience. 

High-value Promoters,
Passives and
Detractors. 

Interview Promoters, Passives, and
Detractors to uncover their percep-
tion of your performance on key pri-
orities. Leverage learning for
improvement. 
Improve Relationships.  All customers.  Listen to Detractors to fix problems.
Listen to Passives to find how to
move them to Promoters. 
Mobilize Promoters.  Especially High Value
Promoters. 
Use feedback from Promoters for
communication to customer base,
employee recognition and targeted
selling. 

Levels Of Sales

Your gold customers represent the top 50% of sales, silver customers represent the next 30%, and bronze customers represent the final 20% of sales. There are Promoters, Passives, and Detractors within each value segment. Neutralizing Detractors is your first priority because of the negative word of mouth and financial harm these customers do. (See my column on “Economic Word of Mouth” at www.croplife.com.)

The chart above links four strategic goals with customer groups that should receive follow-ups once your customer feedback system in place. Suggested service design improvements are shown for each goal.

Next, let’s consider who should conduct customer follow-up in your com­pany. Neutralizing Detractors generally starts with the Front Line. They need clear guidelines from management regarding their latitude for resolving problems. I recommend you have an escalation path to your line managers, or higher for cases where Front Line staff cannot resolve a Detractors problem.

Customer problems often result from dysfunctional processes within the company. Optimizing customer experiences will require root-cause analysis to identify the gaps in your various service delivery processes that cause customer problems. I usually recommend companies develop a cross-functional team with staff from across the company who have unique perspectives on the customer experience and how it can be improved. The line managers in your company are the logical champions of this effort. Describing this process will be the topic of a separate column.

As a final word, I want to make three observations that will help you become more aligned with customers. First, identify your Detractors because they hurt you financially. Your customer feedback process must run all year long. Second, follow up with Detractors to understand and fix their problems. Many times, these problems result from processes within the company that just don’t work for customers. Finally, follow up within about 48 hours of learning about a detractor problem.

Leave a Reply

Latest News
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: Dicamba Update and InfoAg Preview
July 21, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf discuss reports from the field and comments from Monsanto about dicamba drift this season, Read More
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect: Grand Grounds, Posters Parade
July 19, 2017
To celebrate their accomplishments in the area of environmental stewardship, award recipients at the 2017 Environmental Respect week spent much Read More
StewardshipHarden’s Message to ERA Winners: Do Tell Your Good Stor…
July 19, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance the Read More
StewardshipFarming Smarter Hinges on 4R Best Management Practices
July 18, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an Americ…
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
OpinionPicking Partners in the Crop Protection Market
July 17, 2017
Agriculture is a market awash in highs, lows, and everything in between. This is certainly true in the world of Read More
TMX-2050-In-Cab-Display-Launch-Run-Screen
EquipmentGPS Auto Steer: Innovating in a Mature Market
July 17, 2017
In the world of Big IRON, GPS auto steer has closely mirrored the evolutionary path of consumer GPS Navigation systems Read More
MFA-Centralia-MO
Eric SfiligojThe Resilience of Ag Retailers
July 17, 2017
After covering the ag retail market for 17 years, I think one of the most impressive character traits I’ve seen Read More
SERA-meeting
Stewardship4R Event Explores How to Minimize Phosphorus Losses
July 17, 2017
This year the Southern Extension and Research Activity (SERA) – 17; will be meeting in Oregon, OH, from August 14-17. Read More
Students Soybean Field
StewardshipCCA 4R Study Guide Available
July 17, 2017
In June the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) released the Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) 4R Nutrient Management Specialist (4R NMS) Read More
Soil soybean closeup
FertilizerThe 4Rs and Potassium
July 17, 2017
Are we meeting crop K needs? Using the 4R nutrient stewardship approach of selecting the right source at the right Read More
Soil Young Corn
StewardshipTop 10 Themes from the 2017 4R Nutrient Stewardship Sum…
July 17, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
Crop InputsWhich is Better for Soybeans: Fall or Spring Applicatio…
July 17, 2017
There have been many questions about fall versus spring applications of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to soybeans, writes Dr. T. Read More
corn-potassium-deficiency-University-of-Minnesota-Extension
Crop InputsRecognizing Potassium Deficiency Symptoms in Crops
July 17, 2017
Some crops exhibit characteristic deficiency symptoms when adequate amounts of K are not available for growth and development, according to Read More
ManagementComplexity in Agriculture: The Rise (and Fall?) of Mons…
July 17, 2017
Sometimes it seems as if the ag world is changing so fast that we can barely keep up with it Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: Illegal, Improper Use at Root of Drift Proble…
July 14, 2017
Monsanto isn’t backing down from the position that its tool — the Roundup Ready Xtend dicamba-tolerant system for soybeans and Read More
Soybean Closeup
Crop InputsMissouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Issues Stricter Application…
July 14, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has lifted its barely week-old ban on new dicamba technologies, which have been at the Read More