Keep Customers Coming Back

Yesterday, I gave a talk at the Wine Tourism Conference taking place in Sonoma County.

The subject of the talk was Keep Customers Coming Back, which should be the goal of most businesses. However, I have noticed that many businesses do not have the processes or procedures in place to ensure that when someone visits they have a desire to return.

Research shows that keeping customers coming back is important:

  • A 5% increase in customer retention can improve company profitability by 7.5%
  • Engaged customers buy more frequently and spend more per transaction
  • Your business benefits from more word-of-mouth promotion
  • Regular customers bring their friends to meet you
  • A loyal customer is less likely to be lured away to other companies by discounts
  • It gives you an edge over competitors.

How do you keep customers coming back?

By providing an individual experience for each person who visits. For that, you need to create a plan, which will be your blueprint to design, deliver, manage and measure the results.  To make your plan successful:

  • Understand that your customers need to be more than satisfied
  • Put processes in place
  • Hire people who value customer service (remember that they are your ambassadors on and off the job)
  • Create an employee handbook with an in-depth section on customer service standards and guidelines
  • Implement customer interactions that will meet and exceed expectations
  • Review the people, products, services interface and interactions with customers.

Create the kind of atmosphere that results in individual experiences for all your guests. This means that procedures need to be customer-centric:

  • Processes around sales and returns need to be set up to focus on the needs of the customer
  • Conduct regular and interactive customer service training sessions with staff
  • All employees should be genuinely interested in customers as individuals
  • Create memories for customers.

Finally, I am going to say something that you have heard many times, though I think it is worth saying again: Attracting new customers cost more than retaining the customers you have.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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What Makes Your Business Different?

To be successful, your customers and prospective customers have to know (and be constantly reminded of) how your business is different from other businesses in your area that are selling similar products.

Without differentiation, consumers will have a hard time remembering your business. I work with a number of wineries and regularly talk to wine consumers about their experiences when they go wine tasting. After consumers have been to six or seven wineries during a day of tasting, they have a hard time recalling all the wineries they went to or what they tasted where. They will, however, remember a winery dog, a beautiful garden, a particularly friendly and helpful staff member or a wine varietal they particularly liked, especially if the wine was made from an unusual grape. These are some of the differences that make a business stand out from the crowd.

I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from the book Neuromarketing:

“In a sales context, the absence of contrast – especially when a prospect has difficulty understanding the differences between your product and others – will bring the prospect’s decision-making ability to a halt.”

There are many types of differentiation: products, service, price (either high or low), quality, location, are just a few. The important thing is to choose a concept, word or phrase you want consumers to think of when they think of your business. Though if you want the customer to buy it has to be something that differentiates your business from everyone else’s in the mind of these consumers.

If you are interested in delving further into how to differentiate your business in the minds of consumers, I suggest you read, “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind,” by Al Ries and Jack Trout, which made a great impression on me when I first read it, many years ago. I have read it many times since then and it’s as relevant now (or perhaps even more so) that it was then.

If you have not differentiated your business, now is a good time to begin. Start by asking your managers and staff, what they think makes your business stand out from the crowd and then ask some of your regular customers what it is that keeps them coming back. That will give you a good start.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Captivating Your Audience

When someone comes into your place of business, it’s important to keep this person engaged and involved in the information you have to impart. Whether you are disseminating facts or giving a sales pitch, you should be aware of how the customer is absorbing the information. Are they interested or are they bored? Are you going into too much detail or not enough detail? Have you asked them some questions and assessed their level of knowledge and interest? Remember it’s not about you.

As many of my readers know I spend most of my time training staff of retail businesses, mostly wineries. Before I start I think about how my audience might feel about coming to this seminar or training. They may well not want to be there. So how do I get them involved very early in the seminar? For me, it’s humor that does the trick. When people laugh they open up, when they open up they internalize your message much more readily. They also pay closer attention because they are waiting for the next joke or humorous story. So try to add some humor into your conversation with customers.

Stories are another way to engage people. So as you assess the customers that are standing in front of you, tell them stories that they can or will relate to. Give them inside information on the company or the products. Give them the impression that they now know things that a lot of other people don’t know and leave them with a small tidbit that they can take home with them that will impress their friends. If you do that, they will talk about your business to others.

Talk to your customers about things that make them realize that they are special to you. If you have more than one set of customers in the room, don’t say the same things over and over. Every interaction should be individual.

Most importantly don’t waste customers’ time with things that they aren’t interested in, which means you have to be listening to them as well as talking to them. Give them high-quality information that will help them to make buying decisions.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Happy Customer Service Week!

Next week or most of next week, October 3 – 7, is Customer Service Week. According to the Customer Service Group, in 1992 the U.S. Congress proclaimed Customer Service Week a nationally recognized event, celebrated the first full week in October.

While there is a lot of talk about customer service, companies usually don’t do as many things as they could or should on a regular basis to let customers know that they are appreciated.

Customer Service Week gives companies the opportunity to reaffirm how important their customers are to them. Start with a short email letting customers know how much you appreciate them and thanking them for their business.

You might want to create a special offer for your customers. Consider segmenting your customer list so your best customers are given more than those who spend less with you. Or expand Customer Service Week through the weekend and invite your best customers to visit you on that weekend for a small celebration.

It is also a great week to empower your employees, giving them opportunities to make a difference. Encourage them to engage with customers more and thank them for their patronage. Offer small rewards for employees who go out of their way to take care of customers during this week. You don’t only tell customers that they are important to you, prove it.

An article in Forbes magazine suggests writing thank-you notes to customers. You can assign a few customers to each employee, even those that don’t regularly come into contact with customers and ask the employees to write the thank-you notes to these customers.

Customer Service Week is also a great time for a customer service training session. Even an in house session where your employees talk about what they do to engage with customers. A prize can be given for the best idea.

There are lots of things that can be done to make Customer Service Week a way to let your customers and your employees know that they are appreciated.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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What Is Your Body Language Telling Your Customers?

Body language sends silent (non-verbal) signals, many of which we are not aware of.  Though all the time we are talking to someone, our body is communicating messages that are picked up consciously or subconsciously by the person or people you are speaking with. According to Psychology Today, “Micro-expressions, hand gestures and posture register almost immediately, a silent orchestra that can have long-lasting repercussions.”

When you meet someone and don’t like them, it would be interesting to know how much it has to do with their body language.

There’s a good article by Patrick Schober in Customer Experience Insights entitled “Examples of Body Language That Destroy Sales.” It talks about the things you should be doing and how it often leads others to believe that you are no interested, impatient or defensive. As we all know these are not the things that we want our customers to believe if we want them to visit us again and/or buy from us.

Here is a recap:

Make eye contact 70% to 80% of the time. As the article says, “any more and you might appear threatening, any less and you may appear uncomfortable or disinterested.”

Be aware of your posture, keep your head up and don’t slouch as it, “can make you look wear and unconfident.”

Let people see your hands (easy when you are pouring wine) and when you are not holding something, have the palms up to show receptivity and friendliness.

Give them personal space. Don’t stand too close, one to four feet is good, otherwise you may make people uncomfortable

Crossing your arms can and often will feel defensive. If you cross your arms, make sure you are smiling and appear welcoming.

Don’t overdo movements like twirling a pen or tapping your feet as your customers may feel that you are impatient.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Selling to the Customers’ Emotions

I was watching The Wine Show on the television the other day. It’s an English show that talks about wines from around the world, visiting different wine regions and adding humor into the discourse on wine, winemaking, etc.

One of the hosts was asked why he had bought a particular bottle of wine and he remarked that he bought it because of emotional memory, rather than anything else. He smelled the wine, tasted the wine and was reminded of something in the past. Obviously it must have been a pleasant memory as he bought the bottle of wine and brought it to the tasting.

It reminded me of something I have been saying in my seminars for many years, “People buy because they feel, not because they think.” The mammalian brain is responsible for memory, emotions and feelings and it is the emotions and feelings that make us want to buy most of the time. Especially when it comes to wine.

In the wine business you have an added benefit, the customers that come into your tasting rooms or see you at outside events have the opportunity to see, smell, feel and taste your wine and those things will bring back memories.  Take a sniff or taste of a wine and see how many memories it brings up.

When you are encouraging someone to buy, try using emotions instead of just logic. In most tasting rooms the hosts use facts, and while these are important, mixing the facts with some emotional reasons to buy is going to bring you more success.

There are different emotions that make customers want to buy:

  • Being Ahead of the Curve

Nobody’s buying this wine, I can impress my friends with this

  • Time Saving

By joining the wine club I will always have good wine on hand that I can trust, no last minute decisions.

  • Inclusion

My friends really like this wine, I am part of the group

  • Reward

I deserve to buy this. It’s been a tough week; I owe it to myself.

I am sure you can come up with a lot more reasons for customers to buy if you give them a chance. Give it some thought.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Tick, Tick, Tick

It’s already the middle of August and in my neck of the woods school has started, which brings to mind autumn and starts me thinking about the coming holiday season. It’s not too early to start planning for the holidays, especially as far as your business is concerned.

While you are still busy with your summer customers, it’s time to start thinking about how will you be promoting your business this before and during the holiday season year? Even if you just start jotting down some ideas on your holiday specials and how you will promote to corporate clients in your area. Get a jumpstart on creating your holiday marketing calendar and newsletters. Outline all the key dates for your marketing and advertising and start planning for Small Business Saturday, an initiative to drive more shoppers to small businesses. This year Small Business Saturday is November 26th (the Saturday after Thanksgiving).

Thanksgiving weekend is usually a good weekend for wineries and other types of small business and a good time to partner with local businesses to make a visit to your retail room even more interesting and fun. Make it even better this year by promoting in advance special items you will be featuring and the preferential pricing on certain items.

In addition to promoting for the holidays this is election year, which adds an extra bit of spice to the end of the year. With all the rhetoric, claims and counter claims the country will be hearing over the next two or three months, having a few bottles of wine on hand is going to seem like an even better idea to your customers. No matter who they plan on voting for, a glass of wine is going to seem like a good idea.

Start now, because the holidays and the election will be upon us in no time.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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