We recently wrote a guest blog post for our partners at WineDirect. Learn how data can help you cultivate great relationships with your customers.
Your guests are talking, but are you really listening?
As a winery owner, manager, or team member, you know that one of your most valuable assets is the consumer; and that providing an unforgettable, positive experience is key to successfully engaging and retaining customers. Certainly, the product itself matters, but not nearly as much as the direct interaction and the ability to make a connection with your customer – and this is when the collection and utilization of data becomes your new favorite activity. We’ve outlined five ways in which data can give you the tools to impress your customers and help you establish lasting relationships.
1. Capture Data
While this seems simple in theory, it can be difficult to capture accurate, and most importantly, useful information about your customer while still providing a memorable experience. Just imagine how awkward it would be if you were working with a guest in the tasting room and simultaneously trying to take detailed notes. The best way to capture this data and not detract from the experience is to integrate “breaks” into your sales workflow. While there is no single process or workflow that works best, there are elements that make some more effective than others at achieving a certain goal. One workflow that isn’t well suited for the tasting room environment is pressuring and pushing the client to make a purchase. A great tactic to be sure you aren’t doing this is to intentionally incorporate breaks into your tasting flow. By providing some time where you actually step away from the guests, you give them time to process the wines and enjoy the experience; as well as provide an opportunity for you to capture useful data while its fresh in your mind.
2. Train and Monitor Your Staff
You’ve gone through the exhaustive hiring process and found the perfect candidate; so now you are done, right? Wrong. Finding the right person is just the beginning. Providing not just adequate, but good, training is essential to ensure that your new staff member has the tools to do his or her job well. Of course, you should train on the products and operational details (wines, clubs, POS, cleaning the bathroom, etc.); but you also need to train your staff on how you want your tasting workflow to happen. Does this mean you’ll have to engage in some silly role-playing? Most likely, and for good cause. An essential part of this workflow training is how to collect customer data and why it is so important. Once your staff has an understanding of these tools and how to use them, they will be significantly more effective at gathering useful data. After your staff has been trained, it’s important to monitor that they are using these tools appropriately. Send in secret shoppers, solicit feedback from club members, use surveillance cameras if you have to; no matter how you choose to monitor your staff, be sure that you are using the information gathered to constantly provide feedback so that you can assess (and adjust, if necessary) your procedures, optimize staff member workflow, and maximize your data collection.
3. Don’t Use a Spiel. Ever.
Forget your rehearsed speech, do not recite directly from your tasting notes, and don’t try to impress with your exhaustive list of memorized facts about the winery. Having a casual yet engaged conversation with your customers is one of the best ways to improve the overall experience. The goal of this objective is to make your customer the focus of attention; which seems obvious but is something that many wineries tend to overlook. It’s not that you, as the winery, aren’t interested in your customers and what their likes/dislikes/interests beyond wine are, it’s that you don’t approach the interaction in a way that allows it to easily become a dialogue. It’s all too easy to not ask questions and have the experience quickly devolve into a rote speech or lecture about your wines or winemaking processes. By asking questions, whether it’s about what types of wine they like, where they are from, or if they are Broncos fans, you immediately engage your customers in a conversation which, in turn, generates useful data, creates a relationship with the brand, and makes customers happier.
4. Constantly Categorize, Prioritize, and Clean Your Data
Now that you have all of this data flowing in from your tasting room staff, what do you do with it? This could be (and at some point, will be) an article all on its own; but until then, here are a few items to consider. Group like data with like data. This goes beyond the standard customer data (name, address, e-mail, etc.) and refers to more individualized customer data that can help deepen the relationship between the company and the customer. This information could be pet names, anniversaries, home purchase dates, favorite sports teams, lucky numbers, political opinions, or anything else that you can use as a conversation starter with the customer. Segment this data, by customer, into priority groups and be sure that the top priority data appears every time the customer record is accessed. We suggest taking information that can help make the connection with the customer easier and putting it on the top of the list. For example, if a customer likes the opera, is a diehard Yankees fan, and is a first responder, and you had to pick one of those details, which one would you pick? The answer, is to prioritize first by your brand, and second by personal relatability. If you are located in New York, you would probably pick the Yankees; however, if your winery is next door to an opera company, it would make sense to choose the opera. Or if your winery focuses on giving back to first responders, then it would make sense that the first responder affiliation should be on the top of the list. Organizing your data by priority will take some work, but you will be rewarded.
5. Use Your Data
This can be the most difficult, and also the easiest, step to implement, it all depends on your data and company policies. Hopefully you’ve captured all of your data into a CRM (Customer Relationship Management), a valuable tool that should be a part of every winery’s technology program. With this tool, it’s easy for your staff to access a customer record in the system and see that their anniversary is next week; but offering them a complimentary tasting, free bottle, private tour, or other special gesture may not be permitted per your policies. In this case, all the staff member can do is say, “Congrats”. Sure, acknowledging the special occasion will most likely be appreciated, but did you really go above and beyond and impress the customer? Probably not, and that is an opportunity lost. Those dreaded slow days in the middle of the winter are the perfect time to start combing through your database and find a reason to engage with a customer. Did his/her favorite world cup skier just win a race? Send them a note, or a congratulatory coupon. Happen to notice that a customer’s favorite number is 311? Earmark bottle number 311 of your new numbered bottle series and put it in their next order. The more data you have, the more creative you can be; and the more creative you are, the better your ability to create real relationships with your customers. As you cultivate these relationships, you increase direct-to-consumer sales and most importantly, create lifelong supporters of your brand.
TL:DR; The more you know, the easier it is to impress your customer. Always look for the opportunity to impress your customer.