Monday, October 27, 2014

It's More than Just a Telephone - Technology Continues to Change How We Do Business

By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist
What quacks like a duck and tells you when MKC is leaving your field?

That would be an MKC customer’s cell phone.

While your phone may not quack like a duck, you can receive notification within minutes of when MKC completes your customer application order.

Last August MKC launched the customer notification system. The first of its kind, this system brings a new level of communication to MKC customers. Using an electronic tabloid in spray rigs, rig drivers use technology to notify customers via email or text message letting the producer know their field has been sprayed.

Recently, Ryan Patrick received a text message from MKC notifying him his milo field scheduled to be sprayed was complete. Patrick, who operates a diversified crop and cow-calf operation near Lindsborg, recalls working in their shop fixing equipment that was down when he received the text message.

“It’s convenient to receive these notifications,” Patrick says. “Especially when you aren’t around the day your field is being sprayed, you know the job got done. It is especially beneficial when I am trying to plan other jobs that need done on the farm instead of waiting and wondering exactly when my field got sprayed.”

According to Shane Eck, senior location manager for MKC, more than 500 producers are currently signed-up for the electronic notification. Eck commented the system eliminates the producer having the unknown of their spray order.

McPherson County producer Larry Dahlsten appreciates the promptness of the notification system. “I don’t have to wonder if my spraying got done today or tomorrow, or take the time to drive out to the field to look for tracks,” he says.

For Dahlsten and Patrick, a partner and source of expertise in technology is MKC. “The application notification system is one more way MKC is providing efficiencies and expertise using technology for its’ customers,” Eck says.

Patrick is the first to admit technology isn’t at the top of his list of priorities. “I still have a flip phone,” Patrick chuckled. “I leave being up-to-date in the area of technology up to the co-op.”

Today, the cell phone is more than just a telephone for Dahlsten. He uses it for markets, weather, communicating via text message and much more.

“It isn’t always easy to learn [technology] but it has a lot of benefits,” Dahlsten says. Dahlsten tries to keep up with the technology the younger generation uses and he laughed as he admitted it is difficult at times. Besides the application notification system through MKC, he uses precision ag and enjoys staying up-to-date through MKC’s Facebook page.

“Most producers, regardless of size, see the benefit in using technology,” Eck added. “The customer notification system is just one more way MKC is enhancing the customer service experience for our customers.”

The equipment has not yet been installed at MKC’s northern locations including Alta Vista, Onaga, Westmoreland and Manhattan. Customers in these areas can plan to see this technology offered from MKC in the near future. To sign-up for notifications, contact your field marketer or nearest MKC location.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Enhancing the Overall Customer Experience

By Dave Christiansen, President and CEO

How to enhance the overall customer experience is one initiative that continues to rise to the top in our strategic planning sessions now held twice a year. Initially, the challenge with an initiative like this was creating a clear definition that would be actionable. First it meant we needed to make certain our company was easy for our customers to do business with. Secondly, when the customer did do business with us, they would be left with the feeling they selected the right partner.  

One of the challenges to executing an initiative like this is we have to be willing to challenge virtually everything we are doing today, regardless of how well we think we are doing.  We must go to our customers and ask the terrifying question, “How well are we doing?”  Only then, and only if we really listen, can we get the information that will lead us to start making the changes customers say will set us apart from everyone else who is wanting their business.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October is National Co-op Month

Do you remember why you chose membership with your local cooperative? It may be among many reasons shared by 130 million people who have also chosen cooperatives, but it most likely has something to do with the common philosophy of people helping people.

Cooperatives have a rich and diverse history in the United States and around the world. Ben Franklin is credited with bringing the cooperative enterprise to America in 1752 when he and fellow Philadelphians founded the first mutual insurance company in the country.

Cooperatives operate across all sectors and include agriculture, food distribution and retailing, childcare, credit unions, purchasing, worker-owned, housing, health care, energy and telecommunications cooperatives.

Despite their diversity, co-ops are guided by shared values and principles including democracy, self-help and social responsibility. They exist to serve their members, and that level of service remains high even during even the toughest times. Instead of issuing stock or paying dividends to outside shareholders, co-ops provide value to their members through their level of customer service and membership checks at the end of each year.

According to the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), there are nearly 30,000 co-ops in the U.S., serving more than one in every four Americans. Around the world, an estimated 1 billion people are members of co-ops.

"Every day, MKC works to demonstrate cooperative enterprises build a better world," states Dave Christiansen, MKC’s President and CEO. "Not only do we provide product and services to help our members succeed, but we believe we are helping to strengthen our communities through our people, jobs, services and community involvement."

As part of the month-long celebration, MKC hosted a coloring contest for kindergarten through 4th grade students. Fifty-six schools received a packet from MKC containing a supply of coloring sheets and information on the cooperative system to use as education tools in their classrooms .
Prizes will be awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in each age group. Winning entries will be posted on and featured on MKC's social media sites throughout the month.