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Coronavirus

Putting new tools to work in support of field tech

Willie Vogt young corn plants
PLANTING TECH SUPPORT: Getting a good crop stand means keeping machines and ag technology working. The Climate Corporation has retooled its customer support system in the wake of COVID-19.
Agricultural technology users need support. Here's how one company is deploying new resources to make remote support more effective.

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt across agriculture, and it’s changing the way companies are doing business. Just a few weeks ago Farm Progress took a look at how The Climate Corporation supports precision agriculture customers — and just a few weeks later, the approach has had to change.

“We have always had our knowledge center, and that has been our one-stop shop for videos, how-to information and customer-facing information,” says Stephanie Lynch, customer experience manager, Climate Corp. “With all that’s happened in the past couple of months, we have a hyper focus for planting and providing exactly the type of information they’ll need.”

For farmers getting ready to plant, or already at work in the field, having just the right information easily accessible to make new ag technology work is key. But for a company to retool its agricultural technology resources in a short time was no easy task. Add in that Lynch was included in a group sent home early when Bayer closed four facilities in St. Louis in March, and you can see the added challenge.

The company has a website — climate.com/seasonal — modified to focus on key issues facing farm customers during key times of the year. Visit the site at planting, and what you find are precision ag resources including such tools as Planting with FieldView, including preloading hybrids and working with CloudSync for data transfer. Sounds simple, but sometimes having these handy crop resources available can avoid the need to make a call when working with ag technology.

Enhancements for working on farm

Lynch says for this year, the company is going farther, noting there are three main areas of enhancement to help those at work on the farm. The approaches maximize agriculture technology and industry training tools.

Introduction of webinars. “We have reintroduced a webinar series platform, providing live webinars for farmers and dealers to actively attend,” Lynch says. “They can have live interaction during the webinar to talk to the folks hosting.”

In the past, that work might have been handled with planter clinics at field locations working one on one with farm customers to get set up. “We have transitioned that content to virtual using the webinar,” she says. “And we record the webinars and will send out a copy to the folks that attended.” Farmers can share those recordings with employees or others on the farm who might not have been able to attend.

The company also posted two of the webinars on its YouTube page for wider information-sharing for precision ag users.

More virtual help. Lynch explains that there is more help using the crop- and ag technology-specific videos. “We have really keyed in on specific videos right now for planting needs,” she says. “For example, we show how to build a prescription in Climate, and how to execute it.”

In addition, there are tools that answer the more common ag tech questions that the support team receives. She notes the company has built 60-second videos farmers can easily refer to on the site to get to the exact precision ag information they need.

Introductory walk-through. Farmers new to Climate FieldView and the company’s tools need startup help, and there is a virtual approach to that as well. “We share how to do compatibility checks with equipment. We have tools that walk through how to prepare information within their account,” she says. The work includes streamlining information in the Knowledge Center on the website.

These are basic virtual tools the company has used in the past, but they’ve turned up the technology volume in the wake of the coronavirus issue. And there are more investments being made.

Lynch explains that grower support can be live using FaceTime — or its Android equivalent, Google Duo — if a farmer really needs some one-on-one time with a Climate Corp. activation specialist for field support from a distance.

“And we’ve provided all of our support team a screen-share client, so if they need to have more one-on-one visibility with the client into what the farmer is seeing, we have a tool to allow that,” Lynch says. The farmer has to agree to the screen-share, but the company is using a tool commonly used by business-focused technology support services to solve problems.

Ahead of the curve

Losing space at the St. Louis office created some interesting issues when providing field support. For example, the need to have specific monitors on hand to test software or answer farm questions. Easy in an office — but when you vacate, that functionality can be lost. What Lynch and her team did was create experts or team leads for specific precision ag monitor models, so if a customer calls in with a question about a Precision Planting Gen 3 monitor, a specific person on the team may be consulted to help solve that problem.

The Climate Corp. team did see the change coming. Lynch says that two weeks before the need to transition to a remote working environment, team members were able to build out the online and virtual precision ag content tools needed to be ready to support farm customers from a distance.

COVID-19 is challenging all of agriculture in new ways. Farmers who have often reached out for face-to-face support for on-farm ag tech tools are finding these virtual approaches can help. How these precision ag technology support tools will alter the customer service industry in the future remains to be seen.

To get a sense of how Climate Corp. changed customer support, visit climate.com/seasonal.

 

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