Customer Engagement Reminders

Black Friday and the December holidays are quickly approaching, which means you are busy, busy, busy for a couple of months. As most people seem to be rather stressed at this time, it helps if you go out of your way to be patient, polite and professional with all your customers. Here are a few tips that may help in the busy times.

The Customer May Be Wrong

However, if you have to tell them so, do it in a pleasant way.

Ask Questions

If you know what your customer wants, you are better able to meet their needs quickly and accurately.

Understand the Customers Make Buying Decisions Emotionally

It is easier to think that buying is an intellectual process, though the actual decision is made through the emotions.

Listen More Than You Speak

Let the customer do most of the talking. Try not to interrupt, as it will take longer to get to the root of the request or concern.

Customers Should Feel Appreciated. 

Customers are happier if they feel, Important… Liked… Right. If you can manage all three that is fantastic, though any one of the three will help.

Saying Yes has great power

When you can say Yes to customers, even when the request is simple, the customer feels as if s/he is important to you. Sometimes you have to say no. At those times, find an alternate solution.

Give More Than Is Expected

When you go that extra mile (or even an inch) you receive in return the appreciation of the customer. This means the customer is more willing to buy your products.

Promise Only What You Can Deliver

Don’t overpromise. Better to let customers know if you can’t meet their expectations. However, promise that you will do everything you can to make it happen.

Apologize

An apology goes a long way to keeping a customer happy, even if you are not at fault.

“I am so sorry this happened, let me see what I can do.”

“I don’t think we can have it (the requested item)  to you by Monday,

but we will ship it to you as soon as it comes in.”

Don’t Forget To Smile

Your smile helps smooth any transaction. So keep smiling and mean it, even when you don’t feel like it.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Are Your Employees Motivated?

Business owners may spend a lot of time planning ways to motivate staff and managers. However, it seems that starting with why staff members are not motivated should be the first step in the process. If you know why your staff isn’t motivated, it is much easier to put into play the strategies that will change attitudes and banish apathy.

Interestingly enough a Gallup poll found that 70% of US employees were disengaged. Having that many employees who are not motivated to do the best job they can has to have a great impact on customer satisfaction and profits.

Until you understand the reasons for your employees’ lack of motivation it’s going to be hard to change the behavior, especially if the lack of motivation extends to a number of employees in the same company.

Start with a simple employee survey that asks questions such as:

  1. What rewards do you want for your work?

If you don’t know what motivates your employees to perform at top level, you may well be rewarding them in ways that do not resonate with them.

  1. Does your environment encourage motivation?

There may be things that can be changed with the work environment that will encourage a more positive attitude in employees.

  1. How can the company make your job easier?

Many inspirational ideas for a better work environment come from the employees. They are the ones dealing with all the little things that could be better organized. Plus they may have some good ideas on how things can be changed or streamlined. They may not have said anything because no one thought to ask them.

  1. Are they happy with the management style of the company owners or managers?

Management style should vary from employee to employee. Some employees prefer to be macro-managed rather than micro-managed. Find out which employee prefers which style.  Preference for different management styles may also vary from younger to older employees.

Next week’s blog will be about how to motivate employees.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Holiday Sales

The scariest thing about Halloween is that it makes us realize how little time we have left in this year. Which means that if you haven’t already rolled out your holiday selling plans now is the time. For those who are not yet thinking about the holidays, here are a few tips.

While the main focus is on December don’t forget that Thanksgiving is coming up first. Information on which of your wines pair well with traditional or untraditional Thanksgiving feasts should already be on your website, in your emails, and in your hospitality center.

On to December. A significant percentage of shoppers have already started their holiday shopping by the end of October and the majority will have started shopping before the end of November, The good news is that the different articles I have been reading about who starts their holiday shopping when all say that many people start early, they do not say that they all finish early.

As wine is the perfect gift for almost any occasion, the sooner you let them know that you can take care of most of the holiday needs, the better. Many of your customers are already thinking about holiday gifts, holiday parties and what they will need.

Send an email now to your customers reminding them of what you can do for them to make buying for the upcoming holidays easier. Include some tips on holiday dinners or other get-togethers (there are lots of sites on the Internet that offer holiday planning ideas). At the same time, let them know that you can solve their gift giving and holiday planning dilemmas by telling them what you have to offer.

  • Add a page to your website that features different options for gifts, complete with gift boxes, etc.
  • Remind them of the timeline for shipping to get their gifts to their destinations on time.
  • Schedule a one-day event on a weekend in mid-November for gift shopping, with a holiday theme. While Black Friday and the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend are big draws, there are also many shoppers who prefer not to fight the crowds.
  • Offer a special holiday shopping day for wine club members.
  • Offer holiday gifts for businesses to give to clients.
  • As the holidays approach, shoot out short weekly emails with tips on fun and festive entertaining.
  • Have information in your hospitality center about your holiday offerings for guests to take with them.

There are many people who don’t like to shop or don’t know what to buy for others.  Make it simple for them to get most of their holiday shopping done in one place and… make that one place your place.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Ramifications of Bad Customer Service

As I was wandering through the Internet, I found some great information on customer service on Help Scout. The article was actually a compilation of quotes, facts and statistics from different companies and individuals focused on the ramifications of bad customer service and the benefits of positive engagement with customers. I thought I would pull some of these out for this week’s blog.

American Express Customer Service Barometer (2017)

“More than half of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase transaction because of bad service.”

Salesforce

“74% of people are likely to switch brands if they find the purchasing process too difficult.”

New Voice Media

“After one negative experience, 51% of customers will never do business with that company again. “

“U.S. companies lose more than $62 billion annually due to poor customer service.”

Those are some powerful numbers and some amazing findings, showing that the attitude companies have towards the importance of positive engagement with customers can seriously affect the bottom line.

It’s important to spend time accessing your company’s customer service through all lines of communication: in person, via email, phone, mail, on social media and in any other ways that you are in touch with your customers.

Every person who works for the winery, no matter what their job, is responsible for being available to help customers if they come into contact with them. Each and every employee should have some customer service training. Though employees who work in the cellar or in the back office may not encounter many visitors, if they happen to run into a visitor, they should make eye contact, smile and be available to help if needed (even if it is merely directing someone to where they want to go).

How long has it been since you did a customer service review in your business? Are you overseeing at least one customer service training session per year for all your employees and offering more training for those who are on the front lines of customer interaction?

Good customer engagement will raise your sales, according to the 2017 Customer Service Barometer from American Express:

7 out of 10 U.S. consumers say they’ve spent more money to do business with a company that delivers good service.

A simple upgrade to your customer service should mean more wine sold, more return customers and a strong uptick to your bottom line.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Customer or Guest? Customer Service or Customer Engagement?

The words you use to describe your clients are important.

Some people may dismiss the use of slightly different words such as customer or guest, service or engagement as just semantics. However the words you use influence the way you think and the way you may act towards the people who visit your winery.

Let’s start with the words, customer and guest. The two definitions for a customer that I found in Dictionary.com are:

  • a person who purchases goods or services from another…
  • a person one has to deal with.

The definitions of the word guest in the same dictionary:

  • a person who spends time at another’s home in some social activity, as a visit…
  • a person who receives the hospitality of a club… or the like.

If you were visiting a winery, which would you prefer to be, a customer or a guest? Would you rather be… “A person one has to deal with” or “A person who receives hospitality?”

Many people who come to wineries do so because they want to be a part of something they think of as exciting and fun. How many times in your winery, have you heard guests saying “It must be great to own/work in a winery.” Considering those who make time to visit your winery as guests, may encourage you to be more friendly and may encourage them to buy and return often.

Moving on to the words service vs. engagement:

I have seen many tasting room staff members give good service without being particularly engaging or truly treating the person they are serving as a guest of the winery. These staff members can be helpful without being interested or efficient without being friendly.

Engagement tends more towards creating an affinity with the customer, a lasting connection and providing the best experience possible. While service fills a need to provide a product for the customer but may not go that extra mile to create a feeling that as a guest the person is important to the company and to the staff member who is engaging with them.

Think of these and other words that you may use in your hospitality center that can be revised to create changes in the way you think of the people who visit your winery and how you treat them.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Optimizing Staff Meetings

I have been attending lots of meetings recently. While staff and management meetings are important, often they can take more time than they should and are not always as effective as you would like.

Meetings should be planned out well before they occur. Start with a clear vision of how the meeting should progress and a list of topics that need to be discussed.

The length of the meeting 

Decide on the amount of time the meeting should take based on the number of items you wish to discuss. Each topic should be allocated a certain amount of time. The meeting times (start and end) should be part of the agenda. Keep to those times.

Agenda

Prior to the meeting, request information from participants regarding topics they wish to include. Not all topics that are suggested may be suitable for that particular meeting. If these are things that merit the attention deal with them at another time or on an individual basis.

Venue

Opt for a meeting space that is comfortable, well ventilated and has plenty of room for all the people invited to the meeting. If everyone is crowded, too warm or too cold the participants will be distracted. Providing a place for people to engage in a positive manner is more likely to lead to favorable outcomes.

Stay On Topic

Certain discussions may bring up other topics that can lead to long and possibly irrelevant conversations. When this happens, bring the group back to the topics at hand. Make a note of the new topic for future discussion.

Interruptions

Cell phones and other devices should be turned off during the meeting. If it is necessary for staff members to add dates to their calendars, phones may be turned on for the last five minutes of the meeting when new dates are being discussed. Provide printed copies of the agenda for all participants.

 Leave Time for Conversation

Allow time for participants to air their views. Allow everyone who wants to speak the opportunity to do so, but have a set amount of time for each person. This helps in a number of ways, it makes sure the meeting run on time and it helps staff focus on the most concise way to get their points across.

If the meetings have been run on a more relaxed timeline, it may take some effort to change attendees assumption of what is or isn’t acceptable. Keep going. Meetings will before more structured and effective.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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