This week I helped one of my best customers with an all-day education event at their 600-cow dairy. A group of us educated 150 fourth-through-sixth graders at the dairy, while another group taught the pre-K-through-third graders at the elementary school. Those kids learned more about cow feed and a funny thing called the “rumen” then they thought possible.
It was a long but great day, so when we were done the family and several volunteers met up in town to share stories about all the funny things the students said. Later in the conversation, Peter, in charge of all the feeding and employee management at the dairy, was giving his dad, Jim, a hard time about how loud the ringer is on his cell phone. I chimed in and said, “Yeah, and it still takes you seven rings to answer.”
I knew I was in trouble as soon as the words left my mouth, because I have a bad habit of leaving my phone in my car or on my desk. To be honest, sometimes I just don’t answer it when I am in the middle of something. Peter, his sister, Jacqui, who cares for all the fresh and hospital cows, and Jim quickly pointed out that I “never answer” my phone!
“But you know, if you text her she will get back to you in seconds,” Peter added.
What a learning moment for me. I was not communicating the way my customer preferred; I was forcing them to communicate the way that was most efficient for me. They are very family oriented, so it makes sense they prefer a more personal method of communication. All, that is, except for their sister, Stacy, a super detail-oriented calf manager and classic millennial who prefers email.
This got me thinking. Am I making the same mistake with other customers?
When is the last time you checked with each of your customers to see which communication tool works best for them? Did you stop and ask, “What is the very best way for me to communicate with you?” If you did, were you surprised at their answers?
Technology advancements, adoption
Farmer surveys show more than half have smartphones, and the percentage of the younger dairy managers with smartphones is much higher. However, some still prefer a phone call to set an appointment, instead of texting or emailing. The point is you can’t assume – you must ask.
I checked in with Matt Budine, president of California-based Progressive Dairy Solutions, to get his insight on finding the best ways to communicate with today’s busy dairy managers and owners.