Voice of Customer Survey Yields Results
A. Aaron Deardorff, head, marketing to settlement, Syngenta, North America: First launched in 2006, the Voice of Customer survey, or more simply the VOC, is currently an annual survey sent to key crop protection and seed resellers. Its primary purpose is to seek customers’ candid opinions on how Syngenta is doing so that we can continually improve. We always want to exceed customers’ expectations when it comes to our service and value to them.
Q. How has the survey changed over the years?
A. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the VOC survey. Initially, its focus was to gather feedback from crop protection retailers to provide guidance on key Syngenta marketing touch points, including competitive comparisons of our customer service, the effectiveness of our advertising and promotional materials, and the quality of our web-based platforms. Another key objective of the early VOC surveys was to guide the development of our sales representatives’ skill sets by taking into account the customer’s perspective. After all, these men and women in the field are the primary conduits between resellers and our line of products and services, and we understand that helping them do their jobs better from the vantage point of the reseller is critical. Along the way, we also thought it was important to measure the effectiveness of our go-to-market strategy and our overall company performance.
While crop protection was the survey’s original focus, we eventually incorporated questions that also gauged satisfaction with our customers on the seed side of the business. Over the last two years, the performance of our seed and crop protection marketing programs—as well as the merits of our redemption process from marketing to settlement—were focal points. While the survey has certainly evolved over time, the one constant has been our desire to accurately measure our customers’ satisfaction with the people, products and services of Syngenta.
Q. Why is participating in the survey worthwhile?
A. Syngenta wants satisfied customers, and this survey is a vehicle through which customers can confidentially tell us how we’re doing, so we can make improvements as necessary. It’s worth noting that customers have the option to identify themselves in conjunction with their feedback, which gives us the ability to work with them one on one to address any specific concerns they may have.
There’s also a direct benefit to the next generation of leaders in ag. For every survey completed, Syngenta donates $10 to the National FFA Organization on behalf of respondents. Since 2009, we’ve donated more than $60,000 to FFA as a direct result of the VOC survey. These funds have helped pay for student educational programs at the national and local level.
Q: What are some of the key findings, and how do you plan on addressing them?
A: Over the last two to three years, our overall program effectiveness and our marketing-to-settlement process scores have improved. The survey shows that Syngenta is in line with competitors’ programs, but our goal is to be superior. So that we can continue to move the customer satisfaction needle in a positive direction, we’ll work even harder and strive to meet our customers’ needs through improved timeliness, clarity and accuracy.
Our most recent survey shows that the Syngenta sales representative is critical to a customer’s perception and understanding of what our programs are and how a specific program may impact the customer’s business. Focusing on these results, we’ll continue to deepen and enhance our internal training, so our sales reps will be better equipped to help customers understand and take advantage of all program incentives relative to their businesses.
The survey also indicates that customers generally perceive competitors’ programs to be simpler than ours. But once again, the Syngenta sales rep can play a pivotal role. Customers whose reps are knowledgeable are more likely to take advantage of our program offerings—no matter how simple or complex. Moving forward, we’ll strive for simplicity where it’s warranted. That’s why training our sales reps so they can clearly communicate the details of our offers is a key action item.
Q. What can customers expect moving into 2017 as a result of the VOC survey?
A. We are committed to continually enhancing our customer experience. Our program development teams are already looking at incorporating some of the most actionable findings from the 2016 survey into 2017 program offers. Longer-term objectives, also based on customer feedback, include continuing to enhance clarity around incentive payments in crop protection and seeds, providing early, ongoing training for our field sales teams, and moving toward a common programs approach across geographies wherever possible. At the same time, we want to make sure we continue to reward customers who are agronomically diverse when it comes to the Syngenta brands they support, so that they, in turn, can help meet the needs of growers in their areas better.
“While the survey has certainly evolved over time, the one constant has been our desire to accurately measure our customers’ satisfaction with the people, products and services of Syngenta.”
We realize our customers are inundated with surveys from multiple companies each year. On behalf of everyone at Syngenta, we greatly appreciate the time they take to provide us with their valuable insight and thoughtful perspectives.