First Emails to Customers

I was at the US Bev X conference and trade show in Washington DC in February.  It was a great conference with lots of pertinent information on a host of topics pertinent to all facets of the beverage industry.

In one of my sessions this question was asked:

“When a visitor comes to your winery and gives you their email address so you may send them information, how do you create that first email to engage with them further?”

This was an excellent question as that first email is crucial in strengthening the connection between your business and the new customer. My answer was that you have to go back to the initial encounter. This person came first to your tasting room and that is where the connection has to start. The staff members who interact with the visitors have to create the relationship from the beginning of the visit.

It is up to them to take the first steps in learning about these visitors:

Their names

Where they are from

What brought them to you

Their wants and needs, likes and dislikes

How much interest they have in the product.

These questions sprinkled throughout the conversation (rather than being asked one after the other) will be the beginning of the visitors’ relationship with the company and with the individual staff members. The staff members should also offer information, not only on the product but a trade of information about themselves, starting with their names. As the visit progresses staff members can mention the things that they may have in common with the visitors as well as giving them information that the visitors will be interested in.

These are the things that will make visitors give you their email and may turn these (possibly one-time visitors) into long-term customers, even if they live far away.

So back to that first email? It should be sent within a day or two after the visitors’ first visit. The email should be signed by the person or people the visitors connected with during their visit. It will renew the personal contact and should have some of the information they learned from the visitors. Remind them of what they enjoyed about the visit. Let them know how much their visit meant to you and that you look forward to seeing or hearing from them again.  There is plenty of time to sell to them in subsequent emails. Use the first one to engage emotions.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

e_T4Q6892 low-res -c bw s

It’s Important To Be Important!

It’s nice to feel important. Think about the last time someone (a friend, family member or a business) made you feel important. What does that do to your mood in the moment or the way you feel for the rest of the day?

In order to make your visitors and customers important, you have to get to know them. In the case of first-time visitors, you start by observing as they walk through the door. First-time visitors who may not be familiar with wine tasting may be more hesitant when they arrive. Being aware of that fact gives you a clue as to their level of comfort or discomfort. If visitors are hesitant, you can start by making them comfortable. There are many people who come into wineries, who have never been to a winery before. They may be unsure of how things work and what is expected from them. So reassure them that knowing about wine is not a prerequisite to having a good time. Ditch the insider lingo and speak in terms the visitors will understand while still giving them information that will make them more knowledgeable. Ask for their names and become their friend.

Conversely, you make regular customers feel important by greeting them by name, telling them you are glad to see them again and asking them how life is going for them. This lets them and (sometimes more importantly) others in the room know that they are well liked and appreciated.

It sounds easy and it is as long as you are focusing on your visitors needs, wants and desires, rather than launching directly into your regular spiel about the products and winery.

Practice being aware of body language, questions asked and answers given. You will always gain more loyal customers and sell more when the focus is squarely on the customers and visitors. The primary goal is to make friends and to create connections.

After that, the sales will follow. People who are engaged are more willing to buy.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

e_T4Q6892 low-res -c bw s

Are You Missing Marketing Opportunities?

There are very few times when you are talking to others that you can’t take advantage of marketing your business. I don’t mean hijacking a conversation with a long monolog about your company. Keep your comments brief and make the conversation interesting, leading the person or people you are speaking with to ask you for more information.

For example, when someone asks you what you do for a living, what do you say? Are you specific, “I own a winery” or “I work for a winery,” for example, or do you talk about working for or owning a small business? Then have ready a quick sentence about something the company does that will differentiate it from other wineries. It could be a special event; an uncommon varietal or a charitable association, an interesting location or the way the business is managed.

As with people, all businesses are different. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find the differences but they are there.

To get to the root of what makes your business different start a list and keep adding to it. Ask your managers, employees, and customers what they think is different about the business. Once you have the list, create short stories of just a few sentences for each point of differentiation on the list. Keeping it short is important, as it’s easy to get carried away when you are talking about something that is important to you, though may not be important to someone else.

If you know your audience you may point out individual differentiations that will resonate with the people to whom you are speaking.

For example, you are out walking your dog and get talking to someone else who is walking his/her dog.  What is different about your business that may include the dog? Is the dog the wine club mascot or do you donate a portion of the proceeds to the ASPCA or other animal rescue fund? Knowing this small piece of information may bring this stranger into your winery.

Telling a short story makes your business more memorable and the more memorable you can make it, the better chance you have of getting people who may not know about you pay you a visit and make a purchase.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

e_T4Q6892 low-res -c bw s

Conducting a Job Interview

When you are hiring new employees the job interview is critical to successfully finding the right person. In this blog we will be focusing on finding the right people for jobs that have a lot of customer interaction, whether that interaction is in person, on the phone or electronically.

The most important focus should always be the personality of the person you are interviewing. You can teach people skills, you can’t change personality and if you have a sales or customer service person that doesn’t like people you’re in big trouble.

So look for someone who is warm and empathetic. If they work with others, the ability to work well as part of a team and a willingness to follow through (whether with a project or a customer) should be considered. Also you will want to know if the person is an optimist or a pessimist. A pessimist can bring down the customers and other staff members.

Job interviews can be very stressful for the candidates and no one is their best under pressure. Experts suggest that you let the candidates know in advance the topics you’d like to discuss. Find a time that works for both of you and let them know the dress code of the company. You want to get an idea of who they really are.

Allow enough time for the interview and if you need to, bring the person back more than once. If your candidates will be working regularly with other people have them meet the people they will be working with and ask your current employees for their impressions of the candidates.

As well as telling the candidate about the job, make sure you leave plenty of time for them to tell you things. You can learn a lot about people through what they choose to tell you. By asking follow up questions you may find out what really makes them tick. So plan on listening as much as you talk during the interview.

When you find viable candidates check references carefully, as well as their online presence. Hiring people to be the face or voice of your company is an important decision. You want to build a factual picture of the person you are going to hire.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

e_T4Q6892 low-res -c bw s

Are You Hiring The Right People?

As we rapidly approach the busy season for many businesses, it’s a good time to think about the qualities we need in the people we employ to interact with the customers in person, on the phone or via email. In addition, it’s also important to think about the job description that we present and what skills we need to focus on.

You don’t want to waste your time or the applicant’s time by interviewing people who are never going to be right for the job, so it pays to have a clearly worded advertisement detailing the type of person you want and a complete job description.

In the ad be specific about the type of company you are hiring for and also what you are looking for in a person. If you are hiring for a sales or customer service person you want to put emphasis on the soft skills (empathy, patience, communication) making sure you get a person with the right temperament for the position.

Your goal is to find the right person the first time. Not putting enough thought into the ad or the job description can lead to hiring the wrong person. At which point co-workers are not happy and you have to start the process all over again.

When you are writing a job description let the candidates know what you expect from them and also what they can expect from you. If there is the possibility of advancement or that they will be working with a talented group of people, mention it. You want will attract more qualified candidates if they know that there are benefits to the job for them as well as the employer.

Once you start receiving applications respond quickly to the candidates. Even if you just send a quick email that says you received their résumé and will be back to them within the next week. It is important for people to know when they can expect to hear from you.

Next week, I will focus on interview techniques.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

e_T4Q6892 low-res -c bw s

Using Customer Reviews to Improve Your Business

In this era of increasing customer involvement, you immediately know how many of your customers feel about your company as you can see what they think of your products and services on any number of review websites.

Most of us in business will look at Yelp and TripAdvisor, but think about other places where we can find reviews. If you sell through Amazon, or Angie’s List take a look at their customer reviews.  Also, check Consumer Reports, Google for Business, Yahoo listings and don’t forget Facebook and Twitter.

While I was researching this topic, I found an article by Ankit Roy that gives some tips on using reviews to market your brand. He also gives a number of statistics that you should find interesting:

  • 88% of people read reviews (Brightlocal.com).
  • 72% of consumers say possible reviews make them “trust a local business” (Moresocialsuccesspartners.com)
  • Reliability, experience and professionalism are the most important reputation traits for local businesses (Invespcro.com)
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews “as much as personal recommendations (Mdfadvertising.com)
  • A customer is likely to “spend 31% more on a business” with excellent reviews (Webfeat.net)

Those are some impressive stats.

If you are not paying attention to reviews you are missing out on some important information from your customers. Reading them, of course, is only the beginning.

Once you have read the reviews, it’s important to respond to them in a timely manner, whether the reviews are positive or negative. A few words in answer to a positive review can make a customer who already likes you like you even more. A response to a negative review can help change a customer’s mind if your response is helpful and solves the problem. Some of the most loyal customers are those that have had a problem with a company and seen it resolved to their satisfaction.

So check the reviews regularly (all the time) and share good reviews in promotional emails with the rest of your customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

e_T4Q6892 low-res -c bw s

What Do Your Customers Want From You?

Knowing what your customers want is part and parcel of making your customers happy and ensuring that they will continue to buy from you. Here are some tips on how to engage your customers:

Use Their Names

Not only will customers remember you if you remember their names and use their names (a couple of times in the conversation), they are also more aware and interested when they hear their names. Try not to overuse the name. Sometimes when I have been on a phone call with a company and the employee has been told to use the customer’s name, they use it every second word, which is way too much and a little irritating.

Personalize

A key way to make customers happy is to make each experience personal. A personalized experience not only makes customers happy, they are also willing to pay more for a personalized experience. Treat each set of customers as individuals with an individual experience.

Tell Stories

When we tell a story, customers can become a part of that story. Powerful messages about the company are left in their minds through the story. Keep your stories fairly short, so customers don’t lose interest.

Involve Your Customers

Ask customers for their ideas or present ideas you have and ask for their input. If you implement a customer’s idea, make sure they are rewarded for their input.

Surprise Customers

An unexpected treat or gift (no matter how small) will please your customers and will get them talking to their friends about how great the company is.

Time & Memories

Many customers value time well spent and the memories that are created much more than they do discounts. Though in most businesses there is more talk about pricing than there is about what the product will mean to the customer. Start focusing more on the memories that they can make with your products.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

e_T4Q6892 low-res -c bw s