CUSTOMER SERVICE is truly Extraordinary at Whitetail Institute The strobe light says it all

By Hollis Ayres

 The Whitetail Institute’s business has grown exponentially since it was founded more than 25 years ago and the reason is two-fold: First, the Whitetail Institute makes the very best products it can and second, it provides extraordinary customer service. Much has been written in these pages about the exhaustive scientific research, development and testing it puts into product quality, both by the Institute itself and the thousands of hunters and managers who have seen the real world results Whitetail Institute products are designed to deliver. But below, we’ll also take a deeper look at the role customer service continues to play in the Whitetail Institute’s ongoing success.

Whether you’re talking about product quality or customer service, no other word describes the Whitetail Institute better than “extraordinary.” The various definitions of that word can be summed up as follows: “Beyond what is usual, ordinary, or regular.” Those words accurately describe the Whitetail Institute, beginning with two events that happened more than 25 years ago. These two events marked a fundamental shift in deer hunting and management: the founding of the Whitetail Institute of North America and the introduction of its first product, Imperial Whitetail Clover. Before the Whitetail Institute was founded, far fewer hunters and managers understood the benefits high-quality food plots can provide than they do today, and the comparatively few of them who even planted food plots had to rely on commodity grains, clovers, and other plant varieties developed for agriculture and cattle. The Whitetail Institute was founded on the belief that just as plant varieties had been developed for cattle and agriculture, new plant varieties could also be developed specifically for food plots for deer. That belief became reality for the first time with the introduction of the Whitetail Institute’s first product, Imperial Whitetail Clover, which is still the only clover product ever genetically developed specifically for food plots for deer. That certainly qualifies for something “beyond what is usual, ordinary, regular, or established.” When it comes to the Whitetail Institute’s focus on product quality, you can see that for yourself if you know what to look for. You’ll notice the Whitetail Institute doesn’t pay for celebrity endorsements. They don’t have to because tens of thousands of real hunters endorse them regularly. The celebrities that do endorse Whitetail Institute products do so voluntarily because they have first-hand experience with the results they deliver, and they truly believe in them. The Institute also doesn’t pay for the testimonials that appear in Whitetail News. And let me tell you, the Whitetail Institute gets a pile of them — so many that the vast majority never make it into Whitetail News because there simply isn’t enough room to publish them all. Even so, product quality isn’t the sole reason for the Whitetail Institute’s success. To get the whole picture of why the Whitetail Institute remains at the top of the industry, you also have to take into account how the Institute approaches customer service. Here’s how Whitetail Institute founder Ray Scott explains the Institute’s core business philosophy:

“There are basically two ways to grow a business: by making one-time sales, or by developing repeat business like the Whitetail Institute does. Companies that depend primarily on one-time sales usually put a lot of their resources into things that help get new customers in the door, such as flashy advertising and/or paying celebrities to endorse their products. Since the Whitetail Institute relies heavily on repeat business — not onetime sales — our product performance and customer service have to do the talking, both to keep existing customers and to motivate them to recommend Whitetail Institute to their friends. Good news travels. That’s why we focus so heavily on both product quality and customer service.”

Unfortunately, one thing you won’t find in Whitetail News is all the testimonials the Whitetail Institute regularly receives about the customer service part of Scott’s business model. Hardly a day goes by without hunters and managers calling or emailing headquarters thanking them for something customer-service-related. While some are existing customers, others have had no dealings with Whitetail Institute or its products before they contacted the Institute with a question about food plots, deer management or hunting. In both cases, many of those emails and calls express surprise because they found Whitetail Institute customer service more timely and responsive than what they expected or what they’ve encountered elsewhere. In fact, they found it “extraordinary.” The way the Whitetail Institute approaches customer service is entirely different from the way many other companies do by limiting contact to automated telephone and website systems. We’ve all suffered through having our calls to such companies automatically directed by a computer to a seeming endless string of option selections that often end with a computer telling us to go to a website for help (if we haven’t already hung up in disgust by then). It’s pretty easy to understand why those companies give customer service such a low priority: It’s expensive. But it was an expense Ray Scott was willing to pay from Day One. Just like the results Whitetail Institute customers see firsthand with products, the proof of the Institute’s dedication to customer service is there for anyone to experience. An example is the Whitetail Institute’s knowledgeable in-house consulting staff, which is available as a free service to all who call, answering questions by telephone about food plots, deer nutrition and deer hunting, whether the caller is a Whitetail Institute customer or not. The in-house consultants can immediately answer about 98 percent of the questions they receive from callers, and if they can’t answer a question on the spot, then they have the Whitetail Institute’s staff of wildlife biologists, agronomists, nutritionists, weed-and-herbicide scientists and other experts to turn to so that customers get the answers they need, and that the information is correct. And the Whitetail Institute’s in-house consulting service is specifically designed to be as timely as it is useful. Everyone likes a prompt response, and that’s why there is a strobe light that illuminates any time the company phone rings more than three times during business hours without being answered. You read that correctly. A strobe light is mounted to the wall in every office at the Whitetail Institute for one reason: to alert everyone in the building that the phone is ringing and must be answered. That may seem like overkill, since the strobes only go off rarely, during periods of unusually high call volume. But the point is, the Whitetail Institute makes that extra effort to make certain that just like the Institute’s products, its customer service is the very best it can provide. If you’ve been a Whitetail Institute customer for a while, though, all this may not be news to you. After all, it’s been that way ever since the Whitetail Institute was founded more than 25 years ago, and the Institute has stuck like glue to the core business philosophy described by Ray Scott earlier in this article. That’s how the Whitetail Institute has been able to grow and thrive by building on repeat business and word of mouth, earning the satisfaction and loyalty of its customers. In short, this is what makes Whitetail Institute and its products extraordinary.