We're organic dairy farmers. The agency we'd received our certifications from since becoming certified in 2006 was shut down this spring. We hadn't received our certificate from this agency since 2008 so I assumed it was sent to Organic Valley, where we sell our milk. I was wrong but didn't know that until Monday when I needed an organic certificate from last year. We sold some beans but can't get paid until we produce the proper certification.
I was very frustrated. I didn't know what to do so I reached out to Dana at Organic Valley for advice. She emailed me the press release announcing the closing of the agency we'd gone with. This article included info on who/where to go for additional help.
I went online to NOP. I found a contact phone number and called the USDA - Organic Division. A real person answered the phone! I explained what I needed. She listened. She didn't have what I needed but referred me to Minnesota USDA Organic Certifying Division. A real person answered the phone. Although she couldn't help me, she transferred me to someone else. "Susan" answered the phone - a real person! I explained our situation, what I needed, etc. And she was able to help!
Like many people, I make fun of our government agencies because some of them are so un-user friendly. However, based on the incredible experience I had today, I would like to recommend that companies who have traded "efficient" voice mail systems over "effective" real people are going to be scrambling for business and losing revenue in the next few years. We, the people, are tired of customer "disservice" and will go elsewhere to spend our money with companies who make us feel appreciated.
If you don't want to compete on price, compete on service and customer satisfaction! Make people feel glad that they took the time to spend their money with you! Trust me, it doesn't take much to stand head-and-shoulders above your competition!
So hat's off the the USDA divisions in Washington DC and Minnesota. You made my day - really!