How Effective Is Your Interaction With Customers?

Important points that many businesses fail to consider when they are sending out information to customers, whether that information is through social media, emails, text or even through the mail:

  • Will customers be interested in this?
  • How much spare time do recipients have to focus on my interactions with them?
  • Are they being overrun with messaging from other companies that is very similar to mine?

Here are some ideas of how to get your customers more engaged with your emails, social media posts, etc.

  1. Know your customers: If you are keeping up-to-date records of your customers likes and dislikes (including how they want to be contacted), tailor these interactions to their needs, wants and desires.
  1. Segmentation: You will need to segment your customer records by the interests of your customers, what they buy and what resonates with them. You will also have to put some time into getting this information from your customers. Though the time you spend will pay dividends. This is especially true of your best customers. Start with the top ten customers. Once you have got all the information for these customers move on to the next ten until you have at least 100 (depending on the size of the customer list).
  1. Perseverance: It may take time, though once your customers realize that you only send them information that will make a difference to them and their lives, they are more likely to read it and respond.
  1. Response: Quickly respond to all comments and questions that come to you through social media posts, emails or by phone. Whether the responses are positive or negative it’s important that you show your customers that they are important to you. In the case of social media respond to all positive and negative comments online, though you may wish to take additional response to negative comments offline if the problem is not one that can be ironed out easily. Once the problem is successfully handled, ask the customer to go back on social media to say that everything was taken care of.
  1. Know Your Competition: Select similar businesses to yours and sign up for their mailing/social media or email list. You need to know what they are sending to their customers so you can differentiate your business from theirs.

By making your customers as important to you and to your business as you are to them, your business will grow and become more successful.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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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!

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How Much Do You Know About Your Customers?

Kofi Annan the former UN Secretary General said, “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the promise and progress, in every society, in every family.”

The only addition I have to that Kofi Annan quote is… in every business. The business that has knowledge of its customers, what they want and what makes them happy is indeed powerful.
One way to gain this knowledge is to ask your customers directly through sending out surveys.

Create an easy to answer five to seven-question survey that can be mailed to your customers. Choose as many names as you wish of customers who regularly make purchases or come to your events and e-mail them the survey. Ask the customers to complete the survey and return it to you. You may wish to add an incentive. For example, upon return of the survey the customer will be sent a coupon for 10% off their next purchase. Give the person a reward for completing the survey that also gives them a reason to come back to the business. You may wish to ask questions about how they were treated generally, if they got all the information they needed or if they were told about a special that was going on during the time they were visiting. Whatever the information is that you want or need, include a question related to that information in the survey.

Leave a place on the survey form for comments. Some people, when asked for their opinion, love to tell you everything (and much of this information is valuable to you) while others just complete the questions. However, it is important to give people the opportunity to provide you with information.

Keep the survey short (not more than five to seven questions, which are open-ended so those receiving the survey may provide a short or long answer) and thank them for completed the survey. Make sure you add in a line that you are sending these questionnaires in order to provide them with better service…

You may also create surveys that you send to people after their first visit to your business or surveys to customers who regularly attend events.

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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Are Your Events Working For You?

As many of you know, my marketing sales and customer service offerings include mystery shopping for individual companies and associations. Recently I finished a large mystery shop (using multiple shopper sets) to assess a multi-winery event.

What forcibly struck me about the answers the shoppers provided in the questionnaires they completed was the lack of training that has been given to the “first responders” that is, the people who are on check-in at events.

The employees or part timers at the check-in desk are the first people that the attendees see and the first people they have any interaction with. The interactions with the check-in folks may very well set the attendees’ attitudes for the entire time they spend at the event. Their first impression will have a great impact on whether or not these people decide to visit the business again.

In this particular case, not only were many of the check-in people inattentive and in some cases unhelpful, it was obvious by the answers they gave to simple questions that they had received little or no training for their role or information about the event itself.

Put one of your most cheerful and most accommodating staff members in charge of check-in. Make sure that the staff members you have on check-in have been well trained and can deal politely and calmly with people who have been waiting in line, been stuck in traffic, couldn’t find a parking space, or anything else that may have frustrated them before they got to check-in.

When visitors begin with a good experience, their attitude towards the whole event is better. They will be more patient if things go wrong or if they have to wait in line for food, wine or to purchase.

I hear a lot of horror stories from consumers about things that have gone wrong while they were trying to check in at a busy special event. So, please, train your staff and make sure to put your best and brightest on check-in.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Email Fatigue – The Curse of the Modern Age

I just downloaded from Direct Marketing News their 2015 Essential Guide to Email Marketing, which popped into my email box today. It has some great articles in it, including an article by Perry Simpson, 7 Ways to Use Email to Combat Email Disengagement.

The subhead to this article: “Email is as popular as ever but so are feelings of email fatigue…”  Think about this – how many of us are getting so many emails that we are overwhelmed by email fatigue? Perhaps our customers feel that way too. There is at least one company that I have done business with in the past that emails me every day. I no longer read their emails at all, because it’s too much for me, so they go, unread, into the trash.

In his article Mr. Simpson list seven ways to combat the phenomenon of email fatigue including getting to the root cause of why your email recipients are no longer interested. He quotes Kara Trivunovic at Epsilon who says, “It’s important to determine the disconnect and adjust your reengagement strategy accordingly.” Ms. Trivunovic suggests, “surveying customers to learn firsthand why they aren’t engaging with you.” She continues by saying that you may want to ask your customers questions, such as “Are we getting it right? Or “What would you like to see from us?”  Not only are these good questions, they are subject lines that would be likely to get people to open those emails.

The information you will get back from putting the time in to find out what your customers want will give you a more in-depth understanding of the needs, wants and desires, as well as better content for future emails to meet those needs.

For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know that I am a big fan of surveying customers to find out what they want. Remember – your business is important to them, that’s why they gave you their email address to begin with. So make them just as important to you by kick-starting the relationship part of Customer Relationship Management. Find out what they want from you and how you as a company can be more relevant to them. Create a real relationship. With your customers.

This is a great article and I will be bringing you more of it in future blogs.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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How Involved Are Your Customers With Your Business?

One way to keep your customers engaged and connected with your business is to encourage them to become more involved. The easiest way to do that is to solicit their opinions and feedback. Of course, it can sometimes be difficult to hear that you are not doing as well as you may think you are in certain areas. Though, at the same time, if you are getting straightforward and honest input from your target audience, the information can be amazingly helpful.

Your customers may have a very different take on the effectiveness of your marketing and advertising. The emails, newsletters and even your website may benefit greatly from the information you get from your customers.

What information do you have regarding how often customers read your emails? Do they read all of them? Do they read one in three? What makes them want to read your emails?  Is it the subject line? Is it because they know there will be an offer that will benefit them? If you don’t know the reasons that they are opening the emails, you can’t craft them to be successful.

You can also invite some of your regular customers to participate in a small group meeting to talk about what makes them buy the product and what you could do to make the product more interesting to different types of people. Invite the participants to lunch to thank them for their time, or organize a tasting or other small function to that will take place after you have their input to thank them.

Don’t forget your employees, they have unique insights into the business, what works and what doesn’t. Not only managers – include everyone who is part of the work force should be asked for their opinions. Not only should you come up with some new ideas, you will end up with employees that are more loyal and more aware of what the customers are asking for and what they are most interested in.

So take some time to send out some short surveys three or four times each year and perhaps add in some phone calls to customers taking up five minutes or less of their time to get great information.

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