Customer service and experience are important to every dealership, but what about when that experience comes at the expense of your precision staff? The topic of burnout is nothing new but continues to be something precision staffs are faced with. During a roundtable discussion at this summer’s Dealership Minds Summit, a group of dealers came to the consensus that call volume is the leading cause of burnout for their precision teams.  

Reducing the number of calls from customers is easier said than done and not necessarily something you want. But reducing the number of unnecessary calls can go a long way, as can changing who takes the call. One dealer in the group said they send all the calls to a call center to help spread things out. The call only makes its way to the precision specialist if it can’t be solved by someone else first. This concept plays well into Deere’s mission of mainstreaming precision — making it part of everyone in the dealership’s job. 

Charging for service — particularly phone service — is another solution that comes up often but continues to be a challenge to fully implement. This can come as a big surprise to customers, too, as Jordan Wallace with GPS Ontario says. “Around 2008, I had a customer with a precision product issue in Sarnia, Ont., a good 8-hour drive for me. I left at 3 in the morning to go see him, and when I got on site, it only took me 6 minutes to solve his issue before turning around and driving home. It’s all I was able to do all day. The invoice went to the customer, and he said, ‘You were only here for 5 minutes. Why am I paying $2,000?’”

“We need to charge more for their service and stop giving those phone calls away…”

The help of remote support tools allows Wallace to get around the 16 hours in the car and saves the customer from a high invoice, he says. “I can solve the same problem with his precision equipment in the same amount of time, but only bill for the 6 minutes I spent on the issue. With such a huge time and cost savings, why aren’t more dealerships and their customers choosing remote support?”

Wallace’s answer — reeducating the customer. As he puts it, some farmers see a higher value when the precision specialist is physically pushing the buttons for them. He says the biggest part of that reeducation was as simple as sending them the invoices, no matter how many times they question it. For support calls, GPS Ontario charges by the minute and on average a support call bill is about $25-30. It’s an easier pill to swallow for the customer, compared to the $600 bill for driving out to fix the same problem. The precision specialist also didn’t have to spend an entire day on just one issue. 

The need to charge for those short calls came up in the roundtable discussion as well. As one dealer said, “We need to charge more for their services and stop giving away those phone calls.” 

Building our Bench

You may have noticed a new name on the Precision Farming Dealer website in emails and in this issues bylines. Michaela Paukner joined our team as associate editor in early August and has jumped right into things. Within the first three weeks on the job, Michaela hit the road twice. First for this issue’s Day in the Cab article with Redline Equipment, visiting their Gas City, Ind., store. Then, after a short day back in the office she was off again to Decatur, Ill., for the Farm Progress Show. We’re excited to have her on board, and you’ll start to hear more from her in the Precision Farming Dealer podcast and more regular content on the website in the coming months.