Service, Please!

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Over the past several weeks, I’ve attended various trade shows and field days hosted by several trade group and equipment manufacturers. At most of these events, there were plenty of product demonstrations, ride-and-drives and general talk about how the ag industry is doing as we head into the fall season.

But one of things I found most interesting on these trips was a brief discussion with one equipment manufacturer regarding the effort to get some replacement parts from a supplier. “The first part they sent us was the wrong one, so we asked them to overnight the correct one,” said the representative. “But the overnighted one ended up being the wrong one, too!” Ultimately, the company sent an employee on a cross-state trip to meet up with a supplier representative to get the correct part.

Now while I commend the supplier for eventually getting the correct item into its customer’s hands (in person, no less), I think it’s pretty sad that it took three tries to straighten this situation out. Is it that tough being a service provider in America in 2011?

Judging by my own experience, I believe the answer to this question is “yes.” Recently, while trying to make an appointment with a new doctor, I was stonewalled by the receptionist on duty. “I don’t have the doctor’s schedule with me right now,” the receptionist told me while I was in the office. When I pointed out that she should be able to check his schedule using the computer in front of her, she looked annoyed and said, “That’s too much work. Can you just come back later?” I left – and haven’t gone back.

Given these two examples, I have a simple question to ask all of my readers: How is your customer service? Would your employees really have that much trouble correctly filling an order or turn away potential new business because it might take some effort to get it on the books? Perhaps a quick review or refresher for employees on your company’s customer service policies might be in order, just in case.

Just a little food for thought as the ag industry heads into the sure-to-be busy fall season, when customer service, good or bad, could make or break year-end revenues . . .

Sfiligoj is the Editor for both CropLife and CropLife IRON magazines. He travels regularly to cover industry events and has been dedicated to the ag retail industry since he joined the staff in 2000.

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