Assessing Customer Experiences

Last week this blog delved into statistics regarding customers who may have had a less than stellar experience when they visited your business. We discovered that the percentage of customers that you think were satisfied with their visit was not necessarily in line with the number of customers who actually were satisfied.

Also, we learned that only a small percentage of dissatisfied customers take the time to complain. The rest just don’t return.

After publication of this blog, I received an email from one reader regarding the best ways to contact customers. He was concerned that calling people may be intrusive and they may not be comfortable telling you what they really think. Good point and one that is raised regularly during seminars and conference sessions.

The first thing to do is to ask customers how they would like to be contacted. Would they be open to a phone call or prefer to be contacted via email, text or mail. How customers prefer to be contacted many times has to do with their generation. Text is the favorite for Millennials and younger people, while some Gen X or Boomers may prefer email or even mail. Step one is always to identify the wishes of individual customers.

If you don’t have this information on your individual customer records, procuring the information gives you a reason to call your regular customers and double check. Most of your regular customers are not going to mind an occasional phone call. In fact, in many cases it is going to strengthen your relationship with these customers as you are initiating a more personal interaction. While you are on the phone and the opportunity presents itself, this is a great time to tell the customer of any exciting opportunities to purchase. Remember that these people are regular customers because they like you and your products.

Once you have the information on how they want to be contacted, make sure you have the address or phone number in order to follow up. Also get their agreement (in writing) with a follow up email that you as them to sign and return.

Your consideration for how your customers wish to be contacted will just deepen the relationship you have with them and they will appreciate the courtesy.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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The Four Categories of Emotional Intelligence

Continuing from last week on the subject of emotional intelligence. Taken from an article by Lindsay Kolowich on the Hubspot blog, we are now going to look at the four categories of emotional intelligence in the model created by doctors Goleman and Boyatzis.  The four categories are:  Self Awareness, Self Management, Social Awareness and Relationship Management.

Self Awareness

What are your feelings and emotions, strengths and weaknesses and do you understand what drives them? Additionally, make a list of and then assess your values and goals and where you want to go in life. The third part is confidence, understanding what makes you tick, your strengths and limitation, think about what you are good at and where you can use some work to improve.

Self Management

Manage your bad moods and impulses (we all have them). You may find a customer irritating but that doesn’t mean you have to let him/her know. Instead make them feel important. Define goals for each interaction, before you start talking to a customer, what is it you want to achieve? Keep a positive outlook and if something does go wrong, don’t let it eat at you.

Social Awareness

Take notice of what others may be feeling, look for clues as to their concerns and acknowledge them. Be service oriented, listening is much harder than talking, so remember to pay attention and try not to interrupt too much. Listen to your customers so you understand what they are looking for.

Relationship Management

Create an experience for your customers by being articulate and clear. Give them persuasive reasons to purchase and let them know you care in simple ways. For example, you may have heard the same joke hundreds of times but laugh anyway, it doesn’t cost anything and it might very well sell something. Help build your customers’ knowledge of your products, especially through stories.

It’s always important to know the facts and to have the knowledge your customers needs, but when you have emotional intelligence as well you are more likely to retain them as customers for longer.

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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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

Analyzing Customer Data

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review we now have sophisticated tools to analyze customer data. These tools are giving marketing organizations the ability to personalize and mange customer relationships. However, according to this article, this had led to new challenges.

Companies are spending 11 billion dollars annually on Customer Relationship Management, though not using this software to improve relational intelligence, that is, the variety of relationships customer can have with a firm and are not concentrating on how to reinforce those relationships. We seem to be good at collecting data and matching that data with purchasing information, but this industrial view of customers is that of resources to be use to help sell product, rather than seeing these customers as individuals who want different kinds of interaction and relationships with the companies they do business with.

The article by Jill Avery, Susan Fournier and John Wittenbraker goes on to break customers into six different segments. The premise is, “Each type of customer relationship is governed by its own rules, which are based on the customer’s expectations.”

In order to understand the types of relationships that make up the majority of a company’s customers, businesses should use a number of different avenues, such as surveys) to discover how customers relate to their particular product or products. Many companies, while they receive a lot of data from and about their customers, are not very good at collecting and analyzing the information. In some cases it’s because they are haven’t set up their CRM systems to capture this relational intelligence. The relationship intelligence conveys information about the types of relationships customers want to have, and in some cases assuming they have, with the brand as well as how those relationships may be evolving.

Next week’s blog will look at the different types of relationships that customers want to have with your brand and company.

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

Making Your Business Customer-Centric

It’s easy to get so focused on your business that you become company-centric rather than customer-centric. There are many types of businesses that start off that way (medical businesses – doctors’ offices and hospitals, airlines and cable television providers come to mind). However it happens quite a bit in the beverage industry too, especially in wineries.

It’s not so much that winery procedures go out of their way to penalize customers or are punitive to them; with wineries it’s more that they tend to be product-centric rather than customer-centric. That is, we talk about the products and learn nothing about our visitors or customers. There is a lot of talk about customer relationship management, but in the tasting rooms, with retailers and restaurants, and at events the winery people many times do the most talking, and it’s all about the product rather than getting to know the needs, wants, desires and behavior of the customers.

Customer Relationship Management has evolved over the years from the thought that CRM is software that tracks customers to a philosophical approach to how you relate to your visitors and customers through your tasting room, website, emails, social media, advertising, events, etc.

Customer Relationship Management should be a strategy that is followed company-wide to increase profitability and reduce costs by solidifying customer loyalty.

As you have a few months before the busiest part of the season, it’s a great time to start switching from a product-centric to a customer-centric model at your winery. Create a balance between finding out what your customers want from you and how your products fit into their lives to presenting your products to them.

Create a new baseline for customer service at your business that includes asking at least three questions of each set of visitors that come into the business (you can bring that down to one question during events or on very busy weekends – as long as the only question is not “So, where are you from?”).

Changing to a customer-centric model will have its challenges. Change never comes easily, but it is well worth the effort.

A tip of the glass from me to you!