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Offline Doc

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Customer Service
« on: June 03, 2008, 07:19:42 PM »
 This is kind of a spin off another thread.

 What do you do as customer service for people that buy from you or have had done for you from someone that you have bought from ?

 I try to visit my customers herds, call or email to check on the cattle, provide semen on one of my bulls to breed to at least once, mail a Christmas card. I will try to support them if they consign something to a sale.
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong
enough to take everything you have.   -- Thomas Jefferson

Offline Olson Family Shorthorns

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Re: Customer Service
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2008, 07:25:53 PM »
We have bought calves from several different breeders (just like everyone else lol), but there is one breeder that has taken care of us for the last four years or so.  He offered to come to our place and teach me how to clip better back when I was first starting to do it on my own.  He also came to as many of our shows as he was able to.  He fit our heifers at a show, and assisted me at the others.  He came to our house to see the calves that we had out of heifers from him, and helped us pick which bulls to breed what cows to.  He calls us every couple months or so to see how things are going, even though we haven't bought a heifer from him in a couple years.  We have three cows of his in our herd, and we just love them.  He has never guided us wrong, and we go see him and his calves as much as is possible.  In fact, we're going there tomorrow!

We like to provide as much help as the new owners would like.  We give phone calls, offers to come clip calves and give advice if it is wanted.  I think that customer service is almost as important as calf quality.
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Offline knabe

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Re: Customer Service
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2008, 08:14:05 PM »
i purchased some semen from two different individuals through REI that took a little trouble and i'd like to thank the office help at griswolds, REI, and DRCC, and especially DRCC as they double checked i received the semen as they had another order that got messed up.

i'd also like to thank the folks at agrigenomics for allowing me to be a headache.
"The generation that told us to question authority, has now become the Authority we cannot question!"

Offline Ruchian

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Re: Customer Service
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2008, 08:56:07 PM »
I have had both the good and the bad side of this.  With one breeder, we told him we were going to buy these two steers and we agreed on price and everything else, we go to the bank to get the money and he sold them while we were gone.  One of my friends worked for him for a summer and instead of being paid he was going to give her any steer in his field, she picks a steer and he takes it to sale instead.  Lately he seems to be better though, I haven't heard any more of these stories and he acts nicer.

The breeder I've gotten the last couple from comes to shows when he can and is really helpful when ever someone calls to ask him for help.  So far I've only bought steers from him so checking in on breeding hasn't really been an issue.  I am thinking about buying either a heifer or a bred heifer/cow from him this fall summer or fall.  I used to get my steers from a breeder that I have known for a while and who is one of my 4-h leaders so he is helpful and didn't really have a choice about checking on his animals.
Dusty M.

Offline OH Breeder

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Re: Customer Service
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2008, 09:06:30 PM »
Mr. Doc your have excellent customer service as I can vouch for that. Great guy to do business with.

We have small customer base. I think it makes you work harder. Some are green and new showman. We will haul them to shows with us and clip and groom if they like. Offer feed advice and visit frequently. Offer to have them come to our farm when the feet guy is in town. We have loaned equipment out an til they could get started.Have given semen as well with purchase. I tihnk the biggest thing is follow up.I treat them how I want to be treated.
We are looking at starting a lease program on heifers. There are some local kids that would like to have a heifer project but not keep the cow. So, I am doing my reserach and will see how it works.
Life is too short....don't sweat the small stuff.

Offline Doc

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Re: Customer Service
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2008, 09:33:08 PM »
 Thanks OHB. I'm not a big breeder & so I try to treat everyone they way I want to be treated.I know how hard that I work for what I spend on cows & so I presume that the people that buy from me , do the same. I also know that not only does good C.S. maybe bring someone back to you & but also back to the breed. 
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong
enough to take everything you have.   -- Thomas Jefferson

Offline justintime

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Re: Customer Service
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2008, 12:00:59 AM »
Very sound advice !!!  If you just remember that 9 times out of 10 people will buy cattle from other people who take the time to make them feel good... and make them feel like their business is appreciated. It usually is not rocket science.
Several years ago, when I still had our Charolais herd, I purchased an excellent herd sire at the top of the Agribition Charolais sale at $14,800. I used this bull in my herd for 5 years, and not once in that time did the seller ever ask me how the bull was doing or how his calves were. If he had even acknowledged that he appreciated my business or if he had indicated that he was interested in how the bull was breeding, I may have attended his dispersal. This was a very leading breeder and obviously he was more concerned about his bank account than he was about me.... his customer.

I have found that a little service can result in a long series of repeat buyers. I have several commercial bull buyers who have now purchased over 10 bulls from me over a period of years.I will add that sometimes service is a perceived commodity. I know that most bull buyers prefer that you keep the bulls they purchase until they need them. I do this and have never charged them for feed or for delivering them but...... I do price my bulls accordingly. You can probably buy cheaper bulls from some other breeders near me, but I offer more service at a higher price, and buyers seem to want this. It certainly has worked for me.

I believe the cow business is also a people business. Taking a few moments to stop to  visit with your customers when you see them usually means alot. Asking them about their families, as well as their cattle puts a human side on a cattle sale. Taking the time to stop in at a customer's farm for a brief visit can result in more sales. Sometimes it is better to make the visit brief so that you are not interfering with their busy lives too much.

In our operation, we sell a good number of embryos internationally. In the past few years we have sent over 100 embryos to Scotland, England and Ireland. These have resulted in over 50 offspring on the ground in Britain from our donors. It is often hard to offer as much customer service when so many miles are involved, but I  try to maintain some contact with these buyers through email. It only takes a few minutes to send a quick email and I have found that I usually get a longer email in return with some pictures and always a " thank You for your interest " comment. I have had several repeat buyers even though everyone seems to think that if I flush their favorite cow, the embryos will magically sell. Sometimes they do, but usually it takes a lot of work  ( you spend more time on your computer and less time halter breaking). My computer and my website have become the most important pieces of machinery and technology I own.  Because of the interest we have received from this market for embryos, I am going to Scotland in just over a week to see many of the herds that are using our genetics... most of whom I have never met. I have found that putting a face on a name is also an important thing in repeat sales ( and believe me... if you saw my face you would never forget it!!!! One of my friends says I look like an armpit with teeth  if you are wondering... haha)
Customer service is often forgotten from many sales. If you make a person feel like they are respected, appreciated, and that your sale to them does not end when the animal is delivered.... they will remember ... and they will come back.
Experience is what you get when you don't have it when you need it.

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Offline BIGTEX

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Re: Customer Service
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2008, 06:51:37 AM »
Anyone can sell someone once. Customer service is the most important part of sales, also the most overlooked. Repeat customers is where it's at.
Welfare was never intended to be a career opportunity!!!

Offline red

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Re: Customer Service
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2008, 07:32:23 AM »
Doc, I pretty much do as you do. One other thing I do is show up at most shows. also make sure they have help. Nephews are also great for lending a hand clipping.
Many repeat customers. when you're as small as we are you have to provide as much service as possible. Also my door or barn is always open to them & they usually get first pick.

Red

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Offline Throttle

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Re: Customer Service
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2008, 09:45:55 AM »
We'll do about as much as people will let us. We sell about 15-20 calves each year. The top cut of home raised steers and heifers usually goes through the traders and we're out of the service end of those, unless somebody local comes in and gets one first. Then in the fall we'll sell a couple that turned out better than the jocks thought they would along with whatever any body requests that we find for them. We usually end up working with somewhere between 5 and 10 families, with the bottom end looking to be county competitive and the top end having a strong contending county steer or heifer. We have sold to state fair and national heifer show oriented families as well. Often times a family will start small with us and then as they get some success and experience, they kind of graduate to the bigger goals.

We like to do the clipping and fitting unless we know that they can do better. We'll follow them to any show if they'll get us a hotel room when needed. We'll haul them to any show within reason as long as they'll put us up when we get there too. We'll give them all the advice they'll take on any area that they have any questions about. We even put on a 2 day clinic for the families for a couple years and will do it again if it seems like it would be fitting. Right now we are working with the same families that have been through it already. Every August we have a steak fry at our show barn and invite everyone that has done any business (calves, breds, embryos, semen, bull leases, etc) in the last year. The junior kids bring any awards that they have from the year and we take pictures and stuff. Kind of like a recognition banquet but much less formal. It is timed after the summer fat shows around here and it gives everyone a chance to relax, have a good time, and slip out to see next year's models. We have had the pleasure of working with many families for 6-10 years at a time. Seeing their kids grow up, learn the ropes, etc., adds a whole new dimension to the hobby for me. I also allow the regulars to bring their purchased females to run with a clean up bull when the circumstances fit. I also have had kids use our facilities (cool room with washrack) for the summer at no charge as long as they are coming and doing the work. For the real committed families, that I know well and know aren't just taking advantage of me, I guess I do about anything short of giving away valuable goods. I don't always call everyone once a month and ask what they need though. I just always try to make it clear that people shouldn't be afraid to call with whatever questions or concerns that they have. I also think the most important part of customer relations is to make sure everyone knows just what to expect up front. Any breeding or soundness guarantees, any billing and payment arrangements, anything that you've ever heard people gripe about in this business, get it out there in black and white from the get go and people will have to work a lot harder to find something to complain about.

Offline SWMO

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Re: Customer Service
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2008, 01:17:14 PM »
It doesn't matter what kind of business you run.  Good customer service is Good Customer Service.  Be friendly, show an interest, be knowledgeable on what you are selling and make it convenient.  I have a retail business and what brings most of my customers back is convenience, friendly, knowledgeable service and just showing an interest them.  Not the price we charge.  We are not the least expensive in what we do but we know what we are doing. 


Offline Show Heifer

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Re: Customer Service
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2008, 02:34:35 PM »
Customer service - (regardless of your service your providing, or what your selling) should be the same:
Meet or exceed the customers expectations. Give them what you promised them, and give it to them when you promised it to them. Keep in contact, answer the phone, return emails. Show an interest in their program or the outcome of the service you provided.

When I sell a calf, I call and check on it 3 times throughout the first 6 months. I try and attend the show it is at. And I answer and return all calls with questions.
When I buy a calf, I expect the seller to call at least once and make sure all is well.

I don't expect to be babysitted, but do expect people I do business with to keep their word. Simple, but highly overated in some folks book. And I firmly believe in the saying "Screw me once, shame on you. Shame me twice, shame on me."
You had tthe right not display your lack of command of the english language. Too bad you have chosen not to. - Brit, senior student

Offline justamom

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Re: Customer Service
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2008, 06:08:16 PM »
The guys offer free clipping, grooming, and/or also teaching how to groom, clip, feeding advice if asked, and they also try to keep in touch with the family.
The kids that have bought from us in the past, usually the guys even go to shows with them if asked, if a cooler is needed the calf can stay with the guys in the
summer in their cooler too.  Its all about keeping the customer happy.

Offline jbh

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Re: Customer Service
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2008, 09:52:43 PM »
I think that different personalities of people (the customer) require different levels of customer service from the retailer.  I found out that the Ford Motor Company customer service department wasn't near what I figured it was after buying a $55,000 lemon dually( and I'm not talking about the color).....they kept fixing it BUT weren't real fun to deal with!  I liked the product and nobody held a gun to my head and made me buy it, but will I buy another Ford...I don't know?  If they build another high end pickup that I really like the looks of, I might, even though I know what I'm looking at if something goes wrong.  That's not to say a pickup of another breed couldn't do the same thing.  If I would have bought a used vehicle from my small town used car dealer that I see every time I drive in town, then that might be a different story.

The cattle business is not much different.  Many of the high end cattle buyers just want the product and would just as soon the retailer stay away unless asked,  not necessarily out of rudeness, but because they're not after the service as much as they are the quality of product.  Then there's the other end of the spectrum with maybe a newcomer wanting as much help and "stroking" as can be provided, and there are many customers that might be in between these two examples.

Having started on the bottom rung of the ladder, I can honestly say I've a couple torn rotator cuffs and ruptured discs in my back that have came from many years of "customer service".  However, the longer I'm in the business and the higher up the ladder,(and the more my body hurts when I crawl out of bed every morning)  I notice my "customer service" dwindling to friendly advice and phone calls and not keeping up with that as well as I should! 

Personally, I would rather the product I'm buying be what the seller says it is, whether it be pedigree's, breeding dates, semen quality, or etc., and not worry about the Christmas cards or phone calls.  Don't get me wrong,  I enjoy them and commend anyone who does this, BUT its the product you buy that you have to live with....not the seller.  It's no coincidence that some of the BEST cattle in the world are owned by some of the biggest JERKS in the world, and yet people still flock to buy their product.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2008, 10:02:05 PM by jbh »

Offline fluffer

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Re: Customer Service
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2008, 07:19:29 AM »
You know, I make a living trying to teach people about customer service.  Some days I just want to beat my head into a wall!   ??? 

do less then what the customer is expecting customer service is poor and the customer tells 11 people not to go to you
do what the customer is expecting and the customer service is good
do more then what the customeris expecting and he/she will be back and tell 5 people to go to you as well.

Fluffer
What goes around comes around

 

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