When you see a customer go with another dealership for their next equipment purchase, you may chock it up to a better price, brand loyalty, or a higher quality product. But what if the customer’s purchasing decision was actually driven by their experience?
Customer experiences in agriculture tend to be more relational than transactional, especially when compared to other industries. Plus, today’s customers expect a higher level of service than ever before. In fact, 54% of consumers globally say they have higher customer service expectations than from a year ago.7
If you don’t have the right tools or processes in place to enable a frictionless and positive customer experience, you're putting future sales at risk. While happy customers will share their positive experiences and refer about 11 people, angry customer will share their negative experience with and give anti-referrals to about 15 people.8
With the rise in technology, connectivity, and mobility, farmers expect more from their advisors than ever before, making every interaction an opportunity to give customers a positive experience and shape a long-term customer relationship.
Defining Customer Experience
Customer experience is more than just answering a customer's questions. So, how do you define customer experience? It's everything from how quickly you answer a phone call to the friendliness of your website and so much more.
While most companies acknowledge the critical importance of taking care of their customers, many don’t apply the same level of rigor and resources to improving the customer experience as they do to other key purchase drivers, such as product and pricing. Given the strategic environment in which many equipment dealers now operate, competitors can quickly eliminate product innovation advantages and customer expectations are rising.7
When customers expectations are exceeded, your bottom line benefits, too.
Leading dealerships who recognize the importance of growing loyal customer relationships are placing more weight on customer retention rather than prospecting. As you can tell, the customer experience can make or break customer relationships and impact brand loyalty. Organizations implement new tools and technology, hire new people, and promote changes in culture to change or improve their customer's experience.2 Is customer experience contributing to your business' profitability?
Why is Customer Experience Important?
Research shows that customers that receive positive customer experiences will spend 140% more than those customers that report a negative experience. Do customers stick around just for your product if they have a negative experience? Odds are, they won't. In fact, 60% of Americans say they would consider taking their business to another brand after 2 to 3 bad customer service experiences. Adam Fennig, Product Specialist, Fennig Equipment says, “To build up customer respect, you need to treat them like employees, and soon the sales will come.” A positive experience can seal the deal for a customer.4 The customer cares more about the services you provide than the product itself. Consistently offering a great customer experience will increase your odds of retaining customers long term. Just a 5% increase in customer retention correlates to at least a 25% increase in profit.5
You might think people buy just for the paint color, but brand loyalty doesn't always prevent them from getting frustrated by poor service and turning to another company when things go bad.
Leading dealerships who recognize the importance of growing loyal customer relationships are placing more weight on customer retention rather than prospecting.
Turning less than satisfied customers into happy customers translates into customer loyalty and promotional value. Just measure your customer experience to find out how.
Building loyal customer relationships, starts with recognizing one size no longer fits all. Viewing your customers as partners that you work with to achieve common goals is key.
Adding value to every engagement effectively advances the customer to the next phase in the purchase process. Keep in mind current perceptions of customers.
"It’s evolved into so much more than a dealer-farmer relationship. Instead of a customer relationship, we have more of a team mentality. And that’s extremely valuable to have someone you trust with your best interest in mind rather than someone just trying to sell you something."
“Our precision department has a 90%-plus customer retention rate over the last 20 years. Our goal is to not spend all our time on cold-calls finding new customers -- it’s deepening the business relationships with the ones we already have.”
How to Improve Customer Experience
There's no 'one right way' to improve customer experience. A customer's thoughts are complex and sometimes hard to understand, but it's important to continuously seek improvement to foster a better relationship with them to maintain customer satisfaction. To continue to provide a positive experience, it's important to understand what the customer wants. In agriculture, customers want to work with businesses that understand their world, deliver timely responses, and provide meaningful advice. It's estimated that you will see a 4-8%What can you do to improve your customer experience?
Customers don't enjoy waiting around for a call back when they are at a standstill because something you sold them isn't working. In fact, 90% of customers with support questions rate an immediate response (30 minutes or less) as important or very important.6 Respond quicker to keep your customers happy.
Call management systems, communication technology, and other innovations can make your service to customers more effective and efficient. Concerned about making a change with new technology in your business? Use our checklist for implementing new technologies to guide you through the process.
Use AgriSync as a tool to better communicate with your customers and your team. Learn how AgriSync can help you provide services through video similar to Facetime, bulk text, and other channels and manage customer calls through a ticketing system visible to your entire team.
AgriSync explains call management, multi-channel communication, and other features available to help provide a better customer experience.
Cory Ritter shares how AMVAC uses AgriSync to provide faster, quality service.
Planning Your Service Strategy
Customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience, proving that if customer experience isn’t at the top of your priority list, you might want to start rethinking your service strategy. As most business owner are aware, investing in attracting new customers is 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining existing customers.5 It's important to also note that 93% of customers say they are likely to make additional purchases with companies who offer great customer service.6 Planning your customer service strategy is key to ensuring a positive experience across representatives, departments, and locations. As the General Manager at HTS Ag, Adam Gittins is well versed in planning service strategy. Listen to Adam explain the difference a planned service strategy can make for business.
"We need that dealer support. Our precision technician isn’t a planter or strip-till expert, he’s not a combine expert and he’s not a data expert. But he understands the entire ball of wax and can come up with a solution for the system, compared to somebody who’s more or less trying to sell the equipment the support is just a piece that goes with it.”
“We realized if you’re good at making the equipment work, farmers like buying it from you. And that really helped us drive sales because customers knew they could count on us to keep their equipment up and running.”
Measuring Customer Experience
If you are still on the fence about updating your customer experience, ask yourself these questions to better understand the state of your customers’ experience:
1. How do your customers currently solve their problems?
If you aren’t the first resort for issue resolution, figure out why your customers aren’t turning to you. Perhaps you let them down in the past. Perhaps they don’t know that you have a service team available to help.
2. What questions do you hear repeatedly from customers?
Once you know where customers have the most questions or confusion, craft a proactive plan to address questions before they have to be verbalized. Fill in the gaps in your customer experience and help your customers know that your team truly understands their situation. These solutions take time, investment, and mindshifts, but research proves that a great customer experience drives profitability.
3. Where is my dealership on the “map” of customer choice and dealership differentiation?
Do you know what differentiates you from your competition and keeps your customers returning? Note how you are building your dealership’s strategy, executing, measuring, and optimizing to drive revenue growth through increased loyalty. If your primary goal is retention through great customer service, your hiring plan and resource allocation should reflect service as a priority.
4. What constraints are keeping my team from delivering its best customer experience?
One of the largest constraints faced by dealerships in agriculture is fragmented communication resulting from disconnected teams. Often times, dealerships have experts with a wide breadth of knowledge across varying topics, and that expertise is difficult to disperse across a large territory and volume of customers. Identify your team’s weaknesses so you can identify the technologies that could help you deliver a better customer experience and improve employee morale.
5. What new technologies can I use to build a more proactive, customer-centric experience?
Modern technology has changed the way food and fiber is produced today. Innovations in technology have helped us improve yields while reducing waste. We’re living in the age of the digital farmer, so we need to adjust our support plans to cater to the digital experience they expect. When dealerships leverage new technologies, they will begin to see changes in how they engage with customers and prospects and will be able to make greater impacts on the bottom-line.
Want more information on measuring your customer experience? Download our e-guide to measuring the customer experience.
Download Customer Experience and Your Bottom Line
Your customer experience is key for so many reasons, but what's the financial impact? Does a positive experience generate more revenue? Could a negative interaction impact profits? How does the customer experience impact your bottom line?
If you can find why customers are having a poor experience, you can both improve the chances they will be loyal customers and reduce your cost to serve them.3
Fill out the form to the right to download our guide Customer Experience and Your Bottom Line for more.
- “An Agricultural Retailer’s Guide to Customer Care.” Extension - Purdue Extension, www.extension.purdue.edu.
- “Gartner Predicts a Customer Experience Battlefield.” Smarter With Gartner, www.gartner.com.
- “The Value of Customer Experience, Quantified.” Harvard Business Review, 5 Nov. 2014, hbr.org.
- “The Case for Improving the B2B Customer Experience.” The Daniel Group, thedanielgroup.com.
- "Prescription for Cutting Costs." Bain & Company, bain.com.
- "The Hard Truth About Acquisition Costs (and How Your Customers Can Save You)." HubSpot, hubspot.com.
- "2017 State of Global Customer Service Report." Microsoft, microsoft.com.
- "American Express Global Customer Service Barometer 2017." American Express, business.americanexpress.com.