The Importance of Engaging with Your Customer

Feb 25, 2017
Posted on Feb 25, 2017

Businesses are often on the look-out for what will make their business stand out from the crowd, encourage customers to come to them, or allow them to move towards becoming a “price-maker”.

The ultimate aim is to create a profitable agri-business – in this case by generating more revenue, as opposed to cutting costs.

Is there a silver bullet to achieve this? The short answer is “maybe”. Let’s explore this…

Customer-centric approach

We often forget one of the most important things of being in business: a business (generally) only makes money when – ‘a willing Customer buys a product or service from us’.

Therefore it makes sense to focus on what that customer wants or needs from us. Traditionally in business (particularly in agribusiness) many believe that their product / service is of such high quality that this alone should warrant its demand – therefore they “push their product into the marketplace”. Unfortunately, there are likely many other businesses out there with a similar offering, who are thinking the same thing – meaning they are essentially no different.

How can a business move into a position where customers seek them out and “pull their product through to the market”?

Consider the following quote from Kevin Stirtz, Strategy Manager for Thomson Reuters Corporation:

“Know what your customers want most and what your
company does best. Focus on where those two meet”.

Where to start? Just talk to your customer…

It sounds almost too simple to be true but: your customer will tell you what they want – you simply have to ask – then listenEven if you are looking to work out what product or part of your operations should be your focus, the one who is ‘most qualified’ to tell you is your customer.

This might sound obvious – but ask yourself this question: “When was the last time you spoke to your customer – and asked them what they want?”

The Primary Customer

But first – Who Is Your Customer?

Again, this sounds obvious, but businesses need to be crystal clear on who exactly their customer is. Only by knowing who they really are can we identify what that specific customer wants.

  • Step 1 is to examine your place in the value chain – where do you sit?
  • Step 2 is to consider who pays me real money for my product (or service)? Is your customer the processor / packager? The supermarket / boutique supplier / retailer? Or is it the end consumer?

Each of the customers in the value chain will have different needs / problems / motivators – all of which you will be in a better position to provide for once you are clear on who your customer(s) actually is / are.

Consider what your direct customer may be looking for. What could make their life easier? What are their drivers in purchasing and decision making?

Hint: It’s may not be about just the product. Other factors that contribute to the perceived value by a purchaser of your product, or of your business itself, are all the other “things” – the trust based relationship, the customer service, the sale process etc. Stay tuned as we will consider these in future business updates from ABDI.

The Secondary Customer 

Progressive businesses will take this whole process a step further, by finding out about their customer’s customer. If you can identify something that your customer can undertake to satisfy a need for one of their customers, not only will this immediately strengthen your standing with your own customer, it will also put you in poll position to help your customer meet the needs of their customer – hopefully with your product and your assistance!

Remember it’s all about that strengthened customer relationship – creating the win:win:win.

So what can you do?

Initiate a conversation with your customer. Remember this conversation isn’t about you and your business, and what you can offer them. The initial conversations is all about them – and what their pain points are, or what their plans are going forward, what they need and what they want.

Once you are armed with this knowledge, you’re in a much more informed position. You are now far more likely to move down a fruitful path that will yield profitable outcomes, rather than “up another dry gully”. And always remember – it’s all about creating the win:win:win.

Want to understand how to make your business stand out?

To make your business stand out – a customer-centric approach and identification of your Unique Selling Distinction (USD) are absolutely vital. To create value, you must understand what makes you special or remarkable.

These are all a core focus of the ABDI Agri-Business Management Program.

The Program is designed to help you understand how to make a difference to the important things in your agribusiness – the things that are really holding your business back and the how to capitalise on the opportunities out there waiting for you.

Connect with industry specialists, in a group of like-minded, progressive business owners, and start making changes in your business. Create an investor ready / saleable, and self-managing agribusiness – that meets your and your family’s needs.