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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This week, WHAT, HOW, WHO, and WHY are we NOT Selling?

Last week we looked at what to do and this week we are looking at the opposite side of the What, How, Who and Why of selling, which is:

  1. What are you not offering
  2. How are you not offering it (is our presentation unique)?
  3. To whom are you not selling?
  4. Why are you not doing this?

What are you not offering?

Most people (owners, managers, and staff) have ideas of what they want to do in the business they either own or work in. Many times these ideas have a lot to do with their own interests or motivations, which while reasonable is not necessarily going to get the job done. Because of this, you may not be offering customers the information that will close the sale.

How are you not offering it?

You are not offering the information the customers’ want when you haven’t discovered what it is the customer is looking for. If, for example, I like red wines, fifteen minutes of information on how you grow your Chardonnay grapes and how you make your award-winning Chardonnay is going to cut no ice with me at all. That time could have been much more profitably spent talking about your red wines. Also, many times crucial information is not offered until late in the visit. If it is something that will benefit the customer (such as special case prices or wine club info), let the customer know early in the visit so they have time to weigh the pros and cons and make a decision.

To whom are you not selling it?

Are you judging visitors when they come into your business? If you say no, you are probably wrong. We all judge, it’s part of being human. It is part of what keeps us out of danger. It helps to be wary. It also helps to understand that you have no idea how much someone may buy based on the car they drive, the clothes they wear or how much they know about your product. Many times someone may not buy because you haven’t taken the time to discover his/her likes, dislikes and purchasing triggers.

Why are you not doing this?

Remember that purchases are made through engaging the emotions rather than in the intellectual part of the brain. Buying is a process that is strictly emotional. Instead of facts, inspire your customers. What and How educate your visitors, the WHY inspires them to buy and become long-term customers.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Dangerous Assumptions That Undermine Profits

I was recently asked to do an evaluation of a tasting room experience for a winery at which I had done some training. This meant I actually know the staff. Usually, I would not go myself, but find shoppers they didn’t know and send them. This time I thought I would try something a little different.

I took a look at my list of shoppers I had worked with before and decided upon some friends of mine who were just the type of customers that the winery was trying to reach. The reason my husband and I went along was because I wanted to see if anyone tried to sell to them. Or if, because the staff knew who I was and what I did, they would assume that the others were not going to buy.

Sadly, my thoughts that my shoppers would not get all the information they needed to make buying and joining decisions came true. The shoppers were told about the wines and given information about the vineyards. However, there was so much more that they were not told. As I was sitting at the table I was able to see for myself how the visit progressed.

I was pleased that the staff members were attentive and very nice to us. Unfortunately, there was no mention of the special events that the winery hosts (and they have some great ones) and no one mentioned the wine club (there was no wine club brochure on our table or any mention of the wine club on the tasting information).

This was a pity because my shoppers are a couple who like wine, join clubs, come to events and have the discretionary income to do all of that.  In fact, they are your perfect customers.

They were not asked their names or asked if they would like to be a part of the mailing list. Nor were they asked for any contact information. And even though we bought almost a case of wine, no one asked if we wanted to bump up to a case.

The tasting room staff did a good job making sure the guests had an enjoyable visit and I congratulate them for that. However, so much more could have been done to achieve the goals of the winery management and to take these wine lovers from one-time visitors to lifetime customers.

When people come into your winery, make no assumptions. Give them all the information they will need, rather than what you think they may need.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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It’s Not Only What But When

Engagement with customers is not only about what you tell them, it is also about when. If you want customers’ visits to your winery to be remembered, when you give your customers information is as important as the information you give them.

The other day I had an email from a winery asking me a couple of questions. The first was when a customer asks you, “What is your favorite wine?” what do you tell them. My answer is that it is more important not to tell them too early in their visit. As you want them to make up their own minds.

  1. If you have an absolute favorite wine, they may (if they are not wine savvy) be influenced by what you think.
  2. Telling them too early may stop them from choosing something else that they actually like more because you are “the expert.”
  3. It may stop them from buying other wines on your list because they think they may not be as good.
  4. Their tastes may be quite different from yours.

Before you give a customer any information on your preferred wine, ask them to taste the wines, decide what they like best and tell you their favorite. After they have told you what they liked the best of the wines they have tasted, you can praise their palate, tell them what a great wine it is; then tell them your favorite. Followed quickly by a quick couple of sentences about why the wine they chose is an excellent wine. (Assuming, of course, that the wines you make or sell are excellent).

Knowing what the customer likes allows you to give them more information and recommend food that pairs well with the wine. This gives novice wine drinkers more confidence in their own abilities to understand good wine and seasoned wine drinkers to tell you what they enjoy pairing with that particular wine.

Another question I am asked to answer for clients is what do you do when someone asks which one is your best wine. Again, before you answer the question find out what they like. Sometimes I visit wineries and notice that I am told the most expensive wine on the list. That is fine as long as you have asked some questions and know that your guests would be comfortable paying that price for a bottle of wine. If they are not, you lose the opportunity to present the wines that are closer to their price range and there goes the sale.

Ask questions, get information and then make the recommendations.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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In the “Tasting Room”

Most wineries call their customer space the “Tasting Room” for the very good reason that wine tasting does take place there and it’s usually a room. I was giving some thought the other day to all the things that go on (or should go on) in the tasting room. By incorporating the different things you should be doing in the space, you can improve your abilities to tighten your relationship with visitors, which lead to better relationships and long-term sales.

For example, in addition to being a tasting room, consider this area a networking space, a connection location, an education spot or an engagement hub. Tasting is one thing that happens, but by incorporating connection things right you are creating the bonds that will encourage visitors to return, to become regular customers and many times friends.

By thinking of the place as only the “tasting room”, you could be missing the most important elements that turn first-time visitors into long-term customers. Many people who visit your “tasting room” are going to be more excited if they look back on the experience as a small adventure. It should be a place where they gained awareness, information and understanding of wine in general and your wine in particular. And, if they leave believing they have made a connection, they are much more likely to return.

In this multi-purpose visitor center, you can create relationships that may last for half an hour, or may last for years. How you feel about the space and how it can best be put to use will determine which way the relationships go and how long they will last.

So make connections with people, find out the things you have in common and look forward to enjoying the short time you have with each individual guest or group. You may find that your visitors are the most fascinating creatures if you learn a little about them, allow them to learn a little about you, and what you have in common with them.  You never know the people you meet in the “tasting room” may enrich your life too.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Update Your Competitive Analysis

We all know that part of a good business survival plan is a well-researched competitive analysis. Before you start a business, investigating your competition, their products, prices, marketing and public relations plans, customer service, and more is paramount.

For many businesses, once the original competitive analysis is completed, the demands of creating and running a business take over and the time to stop to take notice of what your competitors (who may also be friends and colleagues) are doing and how the competition has grown changed can be overlooked. In the wine industry, the number of tasting rooms has grown exponentially throughout the US and Canada over the last few years and shows no signs of slowing down. This uptick in the number of competitors is going to affect your business.

Dig out your original marketing plan and look at the competitive analysis. If you don’t have a competitive analysis, now is a good time to start. Discover what your competitors are doing in the areas of:

  • Products (What are they making, how well and how much?)
  • Pricing (How much do the products cost?)
  • Sales (How are sales made: directly, through distributors, via the internet, etc.?)
  • Customer Service (How well do they treat their customers?)
  • Promotion/Advertising (How are they promoting their products? Explore all avenues.)
  • Strengths & Weaknesses (What are they doing well and what could they improve on?)

Start with the competitive businesses that are most like your own. Then branch out to similar businesses with the same target audience that may be making/selling different products in the same industry) or be in different price categories. Once you have the information delve into how successful they are, the number of customers you estimate they have and how your business compares. Try to put subjectivity to one side, for example thinking your product is better when it may just be somewhat different. Whether your product is better or not is for customers to decide. Remember that customer service makes a big difference in how customers perceive products.

Finally, take the time to visit your competitors. Much can be learned from going in as a customer. Or if you are well known to your competition send someone else in to do the assessment.

Knowing how well your competitors are doing is crucial to a successful business.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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First Emails to Customers

I was at the US Bev X conference and trade show in Washington DC in February.  It was a great conference with lots of pertinent information on a host of topics pertinent to all facets of the beverage industry.

In one of my sessions this question was asked:

“When a visitor comes to your winery and gives you their email address so you may send them information, how do you create that first email to engage with them further?”

This was an excellent question as that first email is crucial in strengthening the connection between your business and the new customer. My answer was that you have to go back to the initial encounter. This person came first to your tasting room and that is where the connection has to start. The staff members who interact with the visitors have to create the relationship from the beginning of the visit.

It is up to them to take the first steps in learning about these visitors:

Their names

Where they are from

What brought them to you

Their wants and needs, likes and dislikes

How much interest they have in the product.

These questions sprinkled throughout the conversation (rather than being asked one after the other) will be the beginning of the visitors’ relationship with the company and with the individual staff members. The staff members should also offer information, not only on the product but a trade of information about themselves, starting with their names. As the visit progresses staff members can mention the things that they may have in common with the visitors as well as giving them information that the visitors will be interested in.

These are the things that will make visitors give you their email and may turn these (possibly one-time visitors) into long-term customers, even if they live far away.

So back to that first email? It should be sent within a day or two after the visitors’ first visit. The email should be signed by the person or people the visitors connected with during their visit. It will renew the personal contact and should have some of the information they learned from the visitors. Remind them of what they enjoyed about the visit. Let them know how much their visit meant to you and that you look forward to seeing or hearing from them again.  There is plenty of time to sell to them in subsequent emails. Use the first one to engage emotions.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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