Join us in congratulating Kevin Smith, Regional Digital Ag Specialist, on his Quarter 3 2023 Silver Circle Award for Customer Service. Our communications team asked Kevin a few questions about his exceptional approach to customer service; see his answers below.
What is the most challenging aspect of maintaining quality customer service in the Digital Ag world? How do you maintain your professionalism when things get stressful?
One of the more interesting challenges to working in crop insurance is the crop insurance cycle itself. Farmers have very narrow and specific windows when they need to be out in the field doing the things they need to do. In order to support those farmers, agents and AIPs have very specific processing deadlines that we have to follow. Things naturally tend to get very stressful around sales closing dates and acreage reporting deadlines and it can be tough to stay on top of everything during these times. I think the key to overcoming this is preparation in the downtime between busy periods. Working with other departments to help make sure software and policies are up to date, learning about any program changes that may affect the areas you work in, organizing your own processes and resources, and mentally preparing for the busy times will help you succeed and make it a lot easier to handle difficult situations and challenges as they come up. It’s a lot easier to solve problems when you already have an answer ready
What do you enjoy the most about your role?
I like fixing things and solving problems. I think that is a large part of what customer service is. People rarely call when everything is going smoothly, so a big part of customer service is identifying what our customers need and delivering that to them. Whether it is something I can do for them, or something I can show them how to do for themselves, or even if it’s a matter of finding someone else who can help, it is always rewarding to know you helped make someone’s job a little easier and their day a little better.
How would you define great customer service?
I think great customer service comes down to trust. Can our customers trust us to do what we say we are going to do? That means taking ownership of issues that come up, making sure everything that needs to get done does get done, and then making sure the solution is delivered to the customer and ultimately works for them.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their career? What wisdom would you impart to them?
Just learn everything you can, especially now with remote working becoming more normalized. If you have someone who is willing to be a mentor to you, learn everything you can from them. Reach out and network with people in different departments. Learn about what your customers do and how your job affects them on a daily basis. If you have opportunities to attend industry meetings or trade shows, do it, even if it doesn’t directly affect your day-to-day job responsibilities. The more knowledge you have about your industry and the different aspects of it, the more you are able to offer your customers in the long run and the more confidence you will have in all of your interactions.