Always Be Asking

Recently I wrote about the importance of staying in touch with your farmer customers even when times are uncertain. It’s helpful in building and reinforcing relationships, and in reducing stress – because of how human contact helps to reduce stress. Remember the video? But there’s something else that we can get from this as well. Feedback.

When you’re not there – when you’re noticeably absent – you miss the feedback. It’s possible that your customers are still talking about you, and you’re not hearing it.

When you are there, once you’ve talked through the farmer’s situation and what you can do for them, then it’s time to ask for feedback. It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. If you do it a little bit every time, it’s not awkward. And – people like it when their opinion is important and you’re willing to listen to it.

Some businesses do this through a very formalized process made famous by the book The Ultimate Question by Fred Reichheld. Asking gives you several things:

  • A chance to really know who your advocates are
  • Great testimonials from your advocates
  • Warning flags from those customers who are talking badly about you
  • Warning flags from those customers who are just neutral enough to be wooed away by a competitor

There are two questions:

  1. How likely are you to recommend X Company to a friend or colleague? Rank 0 to 10 with 0 being not at all likely and 10 being highly likely.
  2. Why did you answer that way?

The first question allows you to put your customers into categories. If things are bad for your company right now, this is a form of triage. And the ranking system is different than you might expect.

0-6 Detractors

7-8 Passives

9-10 Promoters

Research has shown that only those giving 9s and 10s are actually your promoters. The rest are at risk.

Once you have your customers in these categories, you develop follow up systems.

The 0s through 8s require some kind of follow up process – especially the 0s through 6s. Maybe you have a management person ride along when your rep is calling on that grower to see firsthand what happens. Management should probably be involved to show the customer that they’re important and you’re going to fix things. And after the first visit – create a continual process of caring and oversight until the customer answers the question differently. Make them happy.

With your 9s and 10s it’s also a good idea to pay attention to specifically WHY they’re happy. Are they getting service from an outstanding employee or dealer? And if so, what exactly does that person do differently? If you’re asking often enough, you’ll have a bunch of data that can help you build better sales and service processes.

The 9s and 10s can be people that you go back to and get testimonials. Actually, the testimonial is probably their answer to question #2. Maybe you get referrals from them. Likely you give them some special treatment to keep them happy and bringing in other customers. You can also leverage them by helping them tell their story to others like themselves, farmers who would benefit in a similar way from your product. That’s what we do at Beck Ag. We help you leverage the customer experience of your advocates with other prospects who are similar to them. We create opportunities for them to teach and others to learn.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help you get some feedback or leverage your 9s and 10s into more happy customers, drop me a note at

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