It’s the modern era. Can we handle dairy details digitally or do we have to wade through good and bad field representatives of several organizations and service providers in order to get things done efficiently. A dairy farmer’s time is valuable. There isn’t time to do a lot of spreadsheet comparisons even though it might be needed.
As a result, the 21st century dairy industry is beginning to look more like an episode from STAR TREK than I ever imagined it would. Robotic milking, banks of computer screens in our offices, hand-held devices and cell phones giving us “always there” “24-7 access” for problem solving and production delivery. It’s a wonderful world. Well…almost.
We Need Human Engagement
Like the dairy operations we depend on, we are complex in our needs. Keeping everything precisely computerized (cloud based) is great but there are times when we need old-fashioned human support networks. It’s a tricky balancing act to be sure. Here’s one example.
PROs and CONs
It used to be that there were people parading in and out the barn lane with the latest genetics, farm equipment or nutrition plan to promote to the farmer. With the growth of larger and larger dairy herds, there is less and less time to sort through these potential problem solving consultants. Online research and sorting has replaced those live sales pitches and even led to discouragement of cold-calling by dairy supply businesses. Having said that, nothing is perfect. The new focus returning to human input comes from the problem solving and profit side of the equation. This is driven by the question “How can you solve the problem I am facing RIGHT NOW?”
Service companies that are excelling at working with progressive modern dairy businesses are the ones that keep improving their online, digital products while still maintaining their focus on what matters most to their dairy customers. It’s great to know that your genetics supplier, or robotic milking system or computerized farm management system is an industry leader (aka financially successful) but at the end of the day you want them to be there when you need a problem solved or are seeking an answer to your business challenge. It’s great to own an industry leading product, system or genetics but real success very much depends on the effective combination of product and customized customer service.
“Who Ya Gonna Call” or “On the Fly”
Even at the Bullvine – or should I say especially at the Bullvine – we are aware of the challenges of long distance commutes, air travel and the difficulties of scheduling face to face time. There are digital ways (iPhones, Skype etc.) that at least bring human voices to the scene but sometimes nothing works but actually being there. Suppliers, health providers and consultants face the very real challenge of trying to have the right person in the right place at the right time, while remaining financially viable. The challenge we face, is providing both convenience and the human touch.
“Wait until I tell you what I want”
There was a time, when we enjoyed the research phase of buying a new operating system, buying replacement cattle or upgrading farm equipment. Time today is more precious. Today a large part of the research and decision-making process can be carried out online via and through social outreach. This basically means that face-to-face touch points are not necessary until the dairy manager is ready to make the final purchase or request specific assistance.
Good People Behind the Scenes
When I’m ready to choose between competing brands, it often comes down to a determination of what grade of support will they give once I have made the purchase. Intelligent, accessible assistance is what we are all looking for. Don’t make me wade through the FAQs on your website. When I’m stuck I want being able to access through real conversation, offers a huge uptick in terms of customer satisfaction. In an ideal world having on site support would be just that…ideal. But having an established relationship with a person that is prepared to personalize answers to my needs is also pretty close to perfect. Don’t wait until the situation has escalated and it becomes complex and emotional. Companies that achieve the ‘human touch’ will always be the ones that get repeat business.
Know Yourself Best! Know Your Consultants Better!
We all recognize that the dairy industry is changing all the time. We may not be prepared to adopt all the changes as soon as they happen. We need to know our own comfort level with new ideas and be able to express to our vets, nutritionists and genetics suppliers, where that comfort level is. Whether you are progressive or conservative, you want to work with a team that can meet you where you’re at. A key area to resolve is how much of your data you want others to have access to. Full disclosure. Better solutions.
The Bullvine Bottom Line
The day is closer than we think, when total interactive access between all dairy shareholders will be done by voice, video and text. Then, if we could just master teleporting, our dairy world.