Good customer service is often based on flexibility and that certainly applies to precision ag specialists.
Sure, there are those emergency visits during harvest season to get a combine up and running, but when it comes to technology, it’s a whole new set of headaches.
Several precision ag specialists I spoke with recently at industry events say one of the biggest challenges they face with servicing technology is availability.
While many dealerships are creating or expanding their precision ag personnel — an area Precision Farming Dealer will touch on in next issue's inaugural Industry Q&A segment — time is precious and service calls continue to increase as more products hit the market and more farmers adopt the technology.
In an increasingly competitive market, precision ag specialists are essentially on-call farm equipment technology doctors.
The uncertain schedule that comes with the job is undoubtedly frustrating, but is also a necessary part of gaining the trust, and ultimately the business of customers.
As one precision farming technician from South Dakota says, “When that phone rings at eight at night, you’ve got to answer it because you don’t have a choice.”
That goes to the core of customer service as does a willingness to sacrifice a service-call dollar for customer loyalty.
Precision farming specialists say they have options when deciding how or if to charge farmers for service and more often than not, they won’t, within reason.
One precision farming specialist in Maryland exercises discretion when it comes to the cost of servicing technology based on the amount of time he spends on a job, the time the customer called and who the person is.
“Everyone has a different scenario,” he says. “If it’s 20 or 30 minutes, I’m not going to charge, but if it’s a 6 a.m. call on a Sunday morning, there’s going to be a bill.”
That philosophy is always flexible though, since precision farming specialists acknowledge that they can’t be everywhere at once and not every customer is created the same.
There is a certain amount of prioritization that comes into play.
Not surprisingly, customers that have a track record of repetitive service calls are the more difficult ones to deal with.
“Wait a minute, let me grab your manual,” is how the South Dakota precision technician likes to gently encourage customers to familiarize themselves with their technology when he is asked a repeat question.
But whatever the situation or severity of the problem, the overriding credo for savvy precision farming specialists is rooted in their ability to be flexible.
The motivating factor for keeping customers happy and their precision technology working — despite those Sunday morning wake-up calls — is that they will keep coming back to buy something new.