Take a Step Back

The approach of summer and the good weather during this season bring more customers out of their houses and into your winery, store, restaurant or other retail business.

During the height of the busy season, it is often more of a challenge to provide the levels of customer service that encourage people to buy your products or services and to return. To accomplish your sales and service goals during the busy season it helps if, before it starts, you have a plan. So take a few minutes to create a plan for your sales and service team (if you are an owner or a manager) or for yourself (if you are on the front lines).

How are you going to ensure that each customer is treated well, appreciated and given the attention s/he needs to go away with the opinion that s/he is a valued customer?

Here are a few tips:

Put Your Assumptions on Hold

Unless the person who walks through the door is a regular customer, try not to make assumptions about who they are, what they may or may not know or whether they will buy or not.

Give the Customer a Chance to Talk

Ask the customer questions that will give you the information you need to meet their needs and expectations. When you are giving the customer the answers to their questions, you can also work in how you can fulfill their needs and expectations.

Make the Customer an Insider

What do you know about your product or service, company or owners that your customer might like to know and pass along to their friends? Most of us like to have information our friends don’t have. Also never underestimate people’s willingness to buy to impress their friends.

Let Customers Know You Like Them

  • Give your customers something they weren’t expecting.
  • Let them know you enjoyed their visit.
  • Thank them for coming.
  • If you have the opportunity walk them to the door.

These are simple tips that will make customers buy from you, return to buy more and recommend your business to their friends.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Expectations of a New Year

Many times the start of a new year brings thoughts of change. Recreating what you have been doing to make it more exciting or different. You may wish to redesign your retail room but have you thought about redesigning the experience you present to visitors?

The wintertime, when things are usually a little slower, is a great time to plan a redesign of your visitor experience. The experience consumers have in your business leads to the perceptions those consumers take with them at the end of their visit. When the experience is positive, usually a purchase is made and even if the consumer does not purchase at that time, they will leave wanting to return and will offer a positive picture of your business to others.

Most of us have expectations. It’s a rare person that doesn’t walk into a situation with a full set of expectations. If these expectations are not met, they lead to disappointment. As Chip Conley (founder of the Joie de Vivre Hotels) said, “Disappointment = Expectations minus Reality.” So even when your customers’ expectations have no grounding in reality, they will still be disappointed if these expectations are not met.

The easiest way to meet customer expectations is to put your customers first. It’s not about your products, it about their needs. Ask your customers questions about themselves, their likes and dislikes and what is important to them in relation to your company and products.

Be friendly and interested in what customers have to say and think about how the information you now have can help you meet their needs, wants and expectations.

Create a plan for how you want your hospitality/sales staff to interact with the customers and remember that food service has to start at the top. The way management treats employees is the way employees treat customers. A chain of positive interactions from owner to managers, from manager to staff, from staff to customers at every touch point leads to the meeting and exceeding of expectations.

Meeting and exceeding your customers’ expectations leads to sales.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Uptick in Customer Expectations

I was catching up with my marketing reading this week and came across an article on Marketingprofs.com by Joe Gagnon, a senior vice president for Aspect Software. The article delved into what customers want in the way of customer service and what their expectations are.

The article started out by quoting some statistics: “Some 55% of consumers say that their customer service expectations have increased over the past three years.”“Additionally 55% of consumers say they have moved from at least one company in the past year due to poor customer service.”

As consumers now have technology literally at their fingertips, “consumers arguably know more about the products and services than a company’s customer service representatives know about them.”

So what do customers want? According to Mr. Gagnon, there are seven things that customers want. Shown below are the first three thoughts:

#1 They want to be known. Customers who have dealt with you in the past expect you to know about these past transactions and what occurred.

#2 A mobile experience. Customers want to be able to access products and services on all types of mobile devices. Importantly, as Mr. Gagnon says, “… the vast majority (70%) of consumers would rather text than talk.”

How many of you text your customers when you have information or specials to pass along? It’s definitely something you should think about. Start collecting cell phone numbers so you may text the customers who prefer to communicate this way.

#3 Self-service. According to IBM Retail Research 72%of customers prefer self-service over picking up the phone and 91% would rather use self-service if it was available. How simple is it to buy through your website? Do you have one-click purchasing (ala Amazon)? If you don’t it’s something you should think about.

As we come into the winter and (in theory) things start to slow down a little it’s a good time to start updating the way we use technology and shift to become more in step with the way consumers want to find information and want to purchase.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Different Customers Want Different Relationships

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about an article from Harvard Business Review about analyzing customer data. In this week’s blog we are going to look at the different types of customers.

While consumers do not engage or connect with every brand (for example I have no attachment to any brand of dishwasher detergent), many of them do connect with craft beverage companies, becoming an ambassador for the brand.

According to the HBR article, the various types of customer relationships are governed by their own rules, based on the customers’ expectations. The article lists six different types of customers.

Basic Exchange – This customer wants a good product or service at a fair price, looking for dependability without having to think about it or do too much.

Business Partners – Want to work with the company as a valued and reliable partner working over the long term.

Fling – Expects the company to provide excitement, fuel his or her passion during every interaction and not encourage reflection or rational thinking about purchases.

Best Friends – Looks for intimacy and emotional support. The customer wants a two-way flow of honest communication and expects that the company won’t take advantage of vulnerability.

Buddies – Looks for sustained interaction but doesn’t want a close or emotional relationship. Expects that the company will not make demands or limit freedom to associate with others.

Master-Slave – Wants to intensify feelings or self worth. Demands that the company listen, anticipate every need, satisfy demands and not ask questions.

Can you break your customers into one of these six categories? I believe that many businesses know the customers who are looking to be their best friends. They come in regularly, bring other people with them and present the business as theirs. For example: “This is our winery” rather than “this is a winery we usually go to.”

What about the other categories? Spend some time thinking about how many of your customers slot into the different categories, and start focusing your communication to meet the expectations of different categories of customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you! e_T4Q6892 low-res -c bw s