This time of year, precision farming specialists could benefit from an extra set of hands to help extinguish the number of technology fires that ignite during harvest.
Dealers admit some of these fires have to burn a bit longer than others, and prioritizing urgent service needs is a challenge, especially if manufacturer support is lagging.
As one precision dealer notes, unless equipment is brand new and the problem is simple, manufacturer support staff don’t tend to be seasoned precision problem-solvers and often need to refer to product manuals for a solution.
Finding a reliable secondary source of help can be time-consuming and tedious, especially when dealers have customers’ combines sitting in the field. The consequence is that dealers may delay calling certain customers back, with the hope that they can find an answer on their own.
But regardless of the quality of customer, dealers want to provide quality service because they know word-of-mouth can help or hurt business.
So how can dealers reduce seasonal strain without sacrificing service?
One option I’ve heard discussed is a centralized precision call center, through which a group of experienced dealers, working on multiple brands, would share resources during peak times of the year. This collaboration would give customers a broader network of precision specialists to call on for phone support, while locally reducing the burden on individual dealerships.
Having a hotline for timely resolution of precision issues would seem to make sense and allow dealers to spread out universal problems over a larger geographic area. In other words, a farmer in Nebraska could dial into the call center and talk with a precision specialist in Pennsylvania with a common auto-steer question.
It stands to reason that more complex problems would still require local in-person support and a call center would be a second or third level of service for customers, and therefore, priced accordingly.
“I’d consider this precision insurance for customers,” says one dealer interested in developing the support network. “But the key is to not overprice it, because not every farmer is going to need a Plan C for precision.”
While cost is one consideration, training and staffing pose potential logistical challenges as well. Unlike manufacturer support personnel, who are trained on one brand, call center specialists would have to be fluent in most, if not all types of precision technology to effectively service customers.
These obstacles aren’t insurmountable, and rather than risk burning out precision specialists each season or throwing new ones into the fire, call centers could provide a technology oasis that many dealers have been seeking.