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In this consumer-centric age, success is built on the relationships retailers build with the people shopping in their stores. Building and nurturing relationships with your customers is incredibly important as it is one of the best ways retailers can provide value without having to compete on price alone.
Shopper data can tell you a lot about what is being purchased in your store, but it’s only the first step toward understanding who your consumers are and catering to them.
Think of your own personal relationships with friends and family: you know their likes and dislikes, and all the things that bring you together because you’ve invested in getting to know them. Apply that same care and logic to your customers and you can create a welcoming space and strong relationships.
Use these easy actions to learn more about your customers, create lasting relationships with them, and maximize Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) by providing a more personal and enjoyable shopping experience.
This simple first step is often overlooked. Whenever someone enters your store, make sure to introduce yourself and find out who they are. This welcoming gesture places them in a comfortable environment, and will set you apart. Sure, some people prefer to say hello and be left alone, but knowing that you’re around to help (and can be called upon by name) is reassuring. For them and for others who come to you for help or recommendations, knowing who you are makes them more likely to associate you and your store with a positive experience.
Talk to them without jargon
Using industry jargon is an easy way to alienate a customer. Most people are simply looking for beverages that they will like to drink and aren’t thinking in terms of acidity or herbaceousness. Talk to customers like you might talk to your own friends and family: ask what they usually drink and what they like about it. Once they’ve provided the baseline, you can expand on your response.
Using industry jargon is an easy way to alienate a customer. Talk to customers like you might talk to your own friends and family: ask what they usually drink and what they like about it.
For example, if they say they like red wine that isn’t sweet because they can sip it with dinner, you can find out what they might be eating and recommend an ideal pairing. If you can record or remember this detail, you can also use this conversation to provide better recommendations in the future.
Especially with wine, there are a lot of guidelines on which words or descriptive phrases to avoid. Don’t describe a wine’s acidity or assume you understand a customer’s sweet-versus-dry taste, as this piece from SevenFifty Daily suggests. Instead, let your customer lead the conversation by telling you what flavors and mouth-feels they like or dislike. Then, you can guide them in their language, rather than pushing yours on them.
Create customer taste profiles
Whether digitally or manually, it’s a great loyalty-boosting idea to let your customers create their own taste profiles. It’s usually easy to do this through an e-commerce platform using their store-specific account or through a platform like Quini, which encourages people to record the wines they’ve purchased and liked through the app. This way, people have a record of what they like, even if they can’t remember the specific varietal or brand. Knowing what they’ve liked in the past can help you suggest new varieties for them to taste, and can strengthen your relationship.
When your customers have a taste profile or digital profile, you are better able to reach out with effective promotions and offers that they will actually want and use. You can send specific alerts and deals based on their favorite brands and products, rather than a broader (but still useful) category preference. When this information is on hand at the store, it makes their shopping experience feel even more personalized. A customer can ask for your recommendation and, using their profile, you can find the perfect new beverage for their tastes.
Ask for feedback continuously
In the store, online, through emails — always open the door for customers to share their feedback. Cashiers can ask during checkout if the customer was able to find everything or if there was something that could have improved their shopping experience. Allow people to respond to your emails with suggestions, critique or praise. Make it clear that you are always looking to improve, and will take their feedback seriously.
And then do it! When customers send feedback, don’t just read it and tuck it away. Make changes based on what you hear. If the selection isn’t right for someone, find out what they would like and make some orders, and then follow up to let them know you’ve made an effort to make them feel welcome in your store. If the shelves are too crowded, figure out a way to make them better. If they love the way your staff interacts, pass the praise along and encourage that behavior to continue.
Send out surveys
Surveys are a great and easy way to solicit opinions on specific aspects of the business you’d like to improve. Check in with shoppers about the in-store experience, asking them to call out what they notice and like about your stores (like staff friendliness, staff helpfulness, signage, and more). Or, find out which products people would like you to carry by sending out category-specific surveys. You can even ask about which products people would be more or less likely to buy if they were discounted.
There are a number of great web tools that help you create simple surveys, like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey. Once they are set up, you generate a link that you can send in an email, post on social media or even print on a receipt.
BevMo! surveyed some of their top customers about which wines they would want included in a new program. From the responses, they learned about product preferences and made their customers feel more involved in merchandising decisions. This developed a sense of trust, loyalty and community. You can do the same by sending out surveys, asking for feedback and making changes or decisions based on what you hear.
Develop a loyalty feedback loop
Once again, when you receive feedback from customers, you want to make sure they know you’ve heard them. When people answer surveys or send feedback, offer them discounts to show that you appreciate their help. These gestures can be small, like $2 savings on a future purchase or a free small gift the next time they come into the store.
Similarly, when a customer places a big order for a wedding, anniversary or other occasion, for example, follow up with them. Give them a call or an email on the day of the event to make sure they have everything they need, and another a day or two after to see how everything went. This is also a chance to learn about their tastes: did the case of wine you recommended please the crowd? Would they have preferred something different? If the experience was at all negative, you can problem-solve to make sure they feel heard. Your attention to their needs will be remembered, and will lay the foundation for a loyal relationship.
Remember, the stronger your relationship with your customers, the stronger your business will be. Don’t just think of them as data points or sources of revenue. Find out (and remember) what they like and are curious about. Take their feedback and recommendations as seriously as they do yours! When customers are able to see themselves reflected in the store, whether through a taste profile or seeing their feedback in action, they will keep coming back.