September means lots of things: going back to school, nights drawing in, the start of that hurtle towards Christmas. It’s also harvesting time, which has been very much in evidence in my rural community.
It got me thinking… if we’re serious about wanting to reap organisational success (whatever that means to us – money, prestige, social change, creative output) there are many parallels with the world of agriculture.
The Law of Harvest says that we reap what we sow. What happens when we apply that to our customer relationships? Everyone in your organisation needs to be involved in raising the crops, and here’s how it works…
- Prepare the ground.
Customers need an environment in which their relationship with you can thrive. That means you and your people need to prepare the ground properly. Take time to fully understand your customers: Who are they? What needs do they have? What’s the easiest way for them to access your services? How do they like to be communicated with? How often? How can you add value? It’s vital to do the spadework up front.
- Nurture the seedlings.
The seed is planted and your customer is engaging with you, but the work doesn’t stop there. Field crops need easy access to the stuff of life in order to flourish – water, sunshine and nutrients from the soil. Farmers don’t just let Mother Nature get on with it – she’s far too unreliable! Your customers need to feel understood, valued and reassured, so keep speaking to them and keep offering compelling reasons for them to stick with you.
- Keep the weeds down.
Be vigilant, and act quickly if things don’t go smoothly. Sort out niggles and grumbles quickly, should they arise. Be ready to counter the competition. Deal with the weeds and the weevils before they can take hold and spread.
- Harvest Home
Everyone involved in bringing about a successful harvest should be invited to the Harvest Home. Make sure you always give credit to your people when they’ve helped to grow your business success, and ensure they make the connection between their customer service focus and the bumper crop you’re now enjoying.
- Plough back in
Encourage your happy customers to help invest in next year’s harvest by spreading the word about your business and the benefits it’s given them. Word of mouth is a highly effective form of marketing, so get testimonials and ask for recommendations.
“Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.”
(Og Mandino (1923–1996, American author).