Dave Means Field Service Technician, Oliver Manufacturing

Dave Means joined the team at Oliver three years ago, after spending 25 years working for Syngenta. He started out servicing research equipment, and then he transitioned to plant manager. As a field service technician, Means says he tries to provide the kind of service he would have wanted as a plant manager. Means is located in Bagley, Iowa, and holds an associate’s in electricity and electronics and an Iowa Master Electrician license, as well as his OSHA certification.

It seems customer service models can be as complicated or as simple as you want them. As a field service technician, my philosophy is quite simple: provide the same service that I would have wanted as a plant manager. This means providing training and education on the equipment, being upfront and honest, and showing up with a smile.

As a plant manager, I wanted to work with equipment manufacturers who were willing to come and talk to me and who shared what they were doing and why. Providing training on equipment goes a long way in helping customers feel good about their purchase, giving them confidence in its operation and longevity.

For example, I’ll explain what happens when a bearing goes out. I’m able to validate the importance of routine maintenance. I can tell them that this particular part has a three-year lifespan, because it’s a part that wears. If the customer stays on top of that, the machine will stay up to par and running good.

I’m able to validate the importance of routine maintenance in helping the machine run for as long as possible — sometimes 20 to 30-plus years. And that builds a sense of trust, which goes a long way in the industry we are in today.

I want customers to have the best possible experience with our equipment and every time they interact with the company. I believe we have to sell our experience as much as we sell our product, because we have experience.

As an example, I did a training session for a grass seed company on how to optimize the machine and how to perform maintenance for minimal downtime. In the six months that followed, the plant increased production by more than 300,000 pounds of grass seed. Now I’m going to a few other of their plants to conduct the same training with other managers and operators.

Regardless of whether I’m on site to fix a problem, host a training session or just checking in, I’m always asking “How can I make things better for you?” We’ll walk through your needs and how I might be able to help.

Customer service is essential for Oliver. Without excellent customer service, we wouldn’t be in business. In fact, I believe you can have the best product in the world, but if you have poor customer service, people won’t buy it. On the flip side, you can have an average product and excellent customer service, and people will stand by you. A product and customer service are really complementary.