Customer Service Makes Good Business Sense
James C. McConnon, Jr.
University of Maine
There is a growing number of small and part-time farmers in this country involved in marketing their products directly to consumers. While the popularity of direct marketing has increased, so has the competition. The survival of these producers will depend on their ability to meet the needs of a growing number of consumers who are demanding high levels of quality and service.
I think Cooperative Extension has done a pretty good job of helping producers transition from a production-distribution system to a production-marketing system. However, I think we can do more to help producers strengthen their business management skills and help them become more customer driven and service-oriented toward consumers.
Customers are the most important part of any business and how you treat them will determine whether your farm business will be successful or not. Yet, it is astonishing how many direct marketers mistreat their customers. Establishing an effective customer service program is an important first step in meeting the wants and needs of your farm customers.
This seminar provides an overview of a successful extension education program developed in Maine that helps producers become more service-oriented toward their customers and improve their bottom lines. The key elements of an effective customer service program are explored.
"Customer Service Makes Good Business Sense" Workshop Outline
The educational program "Customer Service Makes Good Business Sense" is a three hour workshop designed to help direct marketers increase sales and profits through improved customer service. This is accomplished through an interactive workshop that focuses on the following topics:
Dynamics of Customer Service
Customers are the most important part of your farm business. Surveys show that you have more dissatisfied customers than you realize and unhappy customers can destroy your business.
What Offends Customers
Different customers are offended by different things. Identify some of the more common offenses and avoid them!
The Building Blocks of Customer Service
A good customer service program is built on satisfying the many diverse wants and needs of your customers. Learning about your customers' wants and needs is an important first step in the process of providing good customer service.
Customer Service Program Guidelines
Some businesses have short-run successes despite poor customer service. However, in the long-run, you must establish an effective customer service program if your business is to grow and prosper.
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