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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Engaging Customers

I have been doing research lately on how to genuinely charm and engage customers. For those of us who serve the public, being charming to our customers should be at the top of the list. Shown below are some of the ideas.

Interest in People:  During the time the customer is with you put them in the spotlight by showing an interest in what they are saying, why they came into your business, and what you can do to help them.

The first thing when dealing with a customer is to introduce yourself and ask for their names. By giving someone your name, you have shown a willingness to have a more personal relationship with these customers, even if it is only for twenty minutes. When people give you information, follow up with an open-ended question to find out more.

Authenticity:  It’s usually easy to tell when someone is not being authentic. If you have no interest in your customers they will recognize it on some level. Even if you are pretending that you do. If you love what you do it will come through to the customers. If you don’t love what you do, it may be a good idea to find something that you enjoy more.

Individual Experiences: Vary your interaction with each customer and focus on things that are most important to them. To achieve that, it’s vital that you start the engagement by finding out his/her wants and needs. You should be looking not only to make a customer but also to make a friend.

Body Language: Your body language is just as important as the words you speak. A smile makes a difference, especially if you smile at a customer s/he will usually smile back at you. That makes them feel good and should make you feel good too. Be open in your body language, arms should not be crossed and your hands should be open. Make eye contact with the person to whom you are speaking.

Belief in the Product: If you can speak with and exude confidence about the products or services that you sell, you are much more likely to make the sale. This does not necessarily mean overwhelming people with facts, but letting customers know the things that are most likely to interest and influence them.

All these things will lead to a better experience for your customers and a better experience for you.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Are Your Customers Having Fun?

How often do your make your customers smile or laugh? Is it at least once during any interaction? Well, almost any interaction; if someone comes in seething with resentment, first you need to relax them, then solve their problem. After that, you might make them smile or laugh.

Anytime you can make a customer smile you are closer to a connection and therefore closer to a sale.

Smiling or laughing relaxes people, relieves stresses and is good for their health. If you can make someone smile, you will usually smile as well, which is also good for your stress level and your health.

Greet customers with a smile and more often than not they will smile back at you.  When you smile you appear open and willing to help them. That can relax the customers and put them in a more receptive mood to listen to what you have to say.

Most of us will frequent businesses where we feel we are valued by the staff and owners. Sharing a laugh with a customer makes him/her feel valued, more cheerful and    more willing to buy. Though humor can be a double-edged sword, when used well it is a great sales tool.

There are times to use humor and times to be serious. As you get to know a customer, a sales person may use a joke or quip to relax the customer and enhance connection. Remember though that we do not know the opinions of the customer to many different things, so don’t assume that your customers have the same belief system that you do. They also may mot have the same understanding of sarcasm, so unless you know the customer well and understand their viewpoints don’t use it.

The time to be serious is when you are presenting the key points about your product as humor may also disrupt the customer’s ability to weigh the pros and cons of buying the product.

Be cheerful, smile and use humor to increase comfort levels and your sales will increase.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Encourage Wine Exploration

Today’s blog is a follow up on the blog I posted last week in which I printed an email I received from a consumer talking about why they aren’t doing a lot of wine tasting any more.

The email talked about how the tasters disliked being told what they were going to taste and how they felt that most wineries (or at least the tasting room staff) just wanted them to buy and leave.

I have experienced myself being told at many wineries what I am going to taste in the wines before I taste them. How does the server know what I am going to taste? We all taste things differently. In classes and seminars that I conduct I ask the attendees to name a food that they do not like. It is amazing how many different foods are mentioned. Why is it that we all don’t like the same food? Might it be because we all taste things differently.

It used to be that the scientists thought that the human nose could smell only 10,000 different aromas, now we know it is over a trillion. So what I detect in a wine and what you do could be totally different.

Instead of telling customers what they should taste, turn the tasting notes over and ask them what they taste? If they need some help then go ahead and help them, but encourage them to take a stab at it first. When they come up with a flavor or aroma that others have found in the wine, congratulate them on their palate. Very few of us don’t respond positively to a compliment.

Engage your customers and encourage them to start on a journey of wine exploration with you as their guide. The customers are much more likely to come back for more when you do.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Educating Your Customers

There is s lot of discussion at businesses and especially in the wine business about the need to educate customers about products and services. I am definitely not against education, though it’s important to realize that education is not usually at the forefront of someone’s mind when they walk into a business. It’s not so much about education as giving customers the facts they want and need to make a buying decision.

For example, if a customer walks into a hardware store to buy paint because they are planning to paint their living room, giving them information about the latest model of kitchen sink is not going to do you or them any good.

Before you give customers the facts, you should know what it is that they are looking for, what information is relevant to them and what will make them want to buy from you. So start by asking questions, creating a personal relationship with them and listening. Let them talk first and for most of the time, you will have plenty of time later when you know what it is that your customers want.

Be sure that everyone who deals with customers knows the products and how to describe them. As an article from Forbes (April 2015) said,

If there’s a starting point when it comes to educating your customers, it’s probably this: Believe in your product. But more than that, make sure you know how to express that belief.”

While the features (what the product or service can do) are very important, the benefits (how the product or service will make the customers’ lives easier/better) are even more significant. The customer wants to know how the product will relate in the real world. How it will impress their friends, what problems it will solve and how others feel about it.

You want your customers to leave your place of business with the view that your product or service will make their life, simpler, better, more fun, or whatever it is that you have discovered is important to them.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Design Your Customer Experience – Part 2

So how do you ensure that your customer interface is superior? By focusing on superior customer service. Not only do the people who interact with customers have to be aware of the need for friendly and helpful interactions with each and every customer, but owners and managers need to develop the infrastructure and provide the resources needed for these superior interactions to take place.

Through promotion you present the messaging that reminds customers of the superior service they receive every time they interact with your business, whether that interaction is in person, over the phone, or by electronic media, internet, email and social media.

What you should be doing with each interaction is creating that emotional bond with the customer or potential customer. The emotional bond is a powerful differentiator that, while it is difficult to do well, has long-term positive effects when it is done well.

To differentiate your business from others through this strategy you must know your customers. Who are your current customers and what has engaged them and created loyalty to your business in them. You must know what is important to them, their individual values, aspirations and social interests. You have to put the time in to know them as individuals. What are your brand values and can or will your customers respond to them. What do your customers hold dear? Do their interested an passions coincide with yours. It could be the environment, family, lifestyle, social- responsiveness or other things.

One of the ways to do this is to find out more about your customers by asking them questions and paying attention to the answers. After your have the answers, segment your customer records by these things that are important to them, what they want. You cannot build anything but a generic experience with the one-size or brand-fits-all approach to your customers.  They are not all alike and neither do they want to be dumped into a collective box.

You can measure the success by the customers’ ability to brag about the experience. You know you are doing well when customers talk about how they were treated and being the first one of their friends to know about the business and recommend it to others. Remember that when people brag about your products or business, it’s not about you, it is about them, how cool they are, how smart and how sophisticated for choosing your products and your business.

So give some thought about what you can do to encourage everyone in your business to aspire to create the best customer experience they can. Help your employees do this by giving the resources, encouragement and backing to do so.

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Design Your Customer Experience

I have been doing a lot of research lately in the customer experience and found that more than ever the experience is what differentiates our companies and our products from our competitors.

The first question to be answered is why the customer experience is so important. The fact is that the customer or user experience is the single most important differentiator and critical in today’s marketplace. There are many differentiators but as industries mature they become less important than customer service and the user experience. Your brands differentiation strategy should change and evolve as the market matures and competition intensifies.

Taking a look at some of the differentiators that have been used:

Product differentiation: This differentiation is not sustainable in many industries as the changes and improvements in product come along so quickly that your competitors can quickly outpace your abilities to change. And as quickly as it came your advantage disappears.

Price differentiation: You can be the lowest price, but that can destroy profitability and if another company comes along with even lower prices (think K-Mart vs WalMart) you are in an unsustainable battle.

The high priced differentiator of the luxury or ultra premium brands takes a large marketing and promotional budget to establish and cuts the size of your market quite drastically.

In addition, and most importantly, the majority of customers say they would be willing to pay more for a better customer experience. I am definitely one of those people.

Your customers have higher expectations of service than they used to and when they don’t have a good experience they do not go quietly, instead they turn to social media to give voice to the frustrations to a wide variety of people. Research has shown that more than a quarter of customers who have bad experience post their experiences of social media.

If you are not already focused on providing the best experience, now is a great time to shift you focus to a customer experience model by making the experience you provide personal and individual.

More about the customer experience in next week’s blog.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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