When is the last time you thanked a customer in person?
This spring, the CEO and President of Sloan Implement visited our farm with the local store manager. They wanted to meet us and see how the company could do better. Before the CEO asked us how we liked the company, he thanked us personally for our business.
I'm a millennial who is used to email blasts, twitter hashtags, and Facebook shoutouts. I encounter that stuff every day. A personal thank you was like something out of the ice age to me.
After the two men left, I retreated to my dusty recliner in our break room and did some thinking. I could only recall a handful of vendors who had thanked us in person for doing business with them. I then considered the way I manage our hay business. When was the last time I thanked our hay customers in person? Sadly, I realized that I hadn’t even met some of my newest customers. I have a couple of big customers who found my hay ads in Farmweek or online, and our most personal communication until now has been text or phone conversations.
I had a gut check and realized I had been dropping the ball. These customers buy thousands of dollars of hay from me each year, and I hadn't made the effort to drive a few hours to shake their hands!
In the past couple of months, I have visited with several hay customers in person. I’ve shaken their hands, sincerely thanked them for their business, and asked what we can do better. It has only cost me a little time and miles on my truck. I also tracked down a customer who stopped doing business with us. While it is easy to send a text, a personal visit could make the difference in whether or not I keep or win their business. After all, I am selling a bulk commodity.
I don't want to fall into the trap of thinking that if a customer follows my Facebook business page it means my work is done. Connecting with a person online helps customers stay informed, but that is assuming the customers read what I put on the web. My work is really never done when it comes to our business. I need to keep in front of all of our customers, understand their needs, and seek out new business.
Look at a list of your customers and ex-customers. Meet them. See what you can do better. These conversations can help you improve business.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.