How to Increase Customer Loyalty in Your Ag Retail Business
By: Wilks Wood, Ph.D. – Field Agronomist, Growers
Retaining customers is less expensive than acquiring new ones, and managing your customer experience is the most effective way to drive customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.
Loyal customers not only ensure sales, but they’re more likely to purchase additional services or high-margin supplemental products. They’re also more likely to refer their friends and generate buzz about your brand online.
At the same time, with sustained low commodity prices, costly inputs, and delayed planting, farmers are more informed and discerning than ever. They price-check products, read up on ratings, and demand a more personalized experience from ag retailers.
To compete and meet this growing demand, ag retailers who amp up their customer service, customize their products, and curb the problem of decision fatigue will keep the customer and win the game.
Customer loyalty, like anything, is a skill that can be learned. In this post, we’ll dive into the tactics we recommend to add value for your customers and business.
Use good data to increase value
In today’s market, informed decisions are needed more than ever to help farmers reduce costs and improve profitability. Without data, you’re playing a guessing game and defaulting to “this is how we’ve always done it”.
While that approach may have worked for your business in the past, farmers are now more tech-savvy and understand the impact data can make on their bottom line. If your operation doesn’t employ agtech and data, you could lose your hold on the market share.
Plus, without insights to point to, the true impact your ag retail operation makes on your farmer’s yield will go unnoticed, and unrecognized value leads to poor customer retention.
Before you go and find the cheapest technology, remember while good data fuels correct decisions and improves management practices, bad data can lead to poor decisions, wasted money, and low yield.
Having good data is the key to maximizing your reach and potential.
Adapt quickly to a farmer’s change of plans
A farmer’s crop plan, fertility plan, or herbicide plan, can quickly change due to unforeseen circumstances.
2019 is a great example of this. Delayed planting and spring flooding led to farmers making last-minute, complex changes to their crop and fertility plans.
If you’re using a spreadsheet for crop planning, making those changes can be tedious and time-consuming. Before you get the revised plan to your farmer, they could have moved on to the competitor, written the check, and executed the plan.
To keep up with the pace of your farmer’s decisions, bring technology to your operation. Invest in cloud-based software that makes it easy to collaborate with your farmer wherever they are.
Adjust pricing to stay competitive
In today’s agriculture world, pricing has become hyper-competitive.
Your farmer has limitless options for any product or service they may want to purchase. Price your product too high, and they’ll go somewhere else. Price it too low, and your business suffers.
At the end of the day, your farmer expects a fair price for a product that performs as described. So, it’s more important than ever to have a dynamic pricing environment to offer up-to-date, competitive pricing, especially with seeds, fertilizer, and chemicals.
To start, you need a tool that empowers your sales team to make better on-the-spot decisions. Additionally, you also want the ability to instantly push out pricing updates to your entire team as industry market trends shift.
Invest in software that gives your sales team the ability to add your products into their farmer’s dashboard, set dynamic and competitive pricing, and get fresh pricing data updates.
Run what-if analysis to see the impact of your decisions
To reduce risks and improve operational performance, running what-if analysis can help you and your farmer see the impact of your decisions before you make them.
While you can use spreadsheets to run scenarios with both real-time and historical data, there’s limited forecasting ability, an increased risk of human error, and they often lead to endless, time-consuming discussions.
Advanced cloud-based technology can help you run unlimited, what-if scenarios in seconds and make adjustments on the fly. This enables you and your farmer to make confident decisions, and it gives your operation a leg up on the competition.
A tool to boost customer loyalty
Farmers have enough to worry about as it is. That’s why they value relationships and rely on a few trusted advisors to help them with key decisions.
To increase customer loyalty and stay competitive in a rapidly changing industry, ag retailers need to strengthen the relationships they have with their farmers buy using good data, adopting flexible crop planning, dynamic pricing, and cloud-based software.