Identifying How and When to Collect Customer Data
I recently ran a quick analysis for a client considering a new Wine Club.
After 20 minutes of diving into their backend system (which happened to be in Vin65) I was able to give some cursory direction on what their customers might respond to. But in doing so, I also pointed out they made a heck of a lot more money when they gathered contact information than when they didn’t.
Out of all their orders this past year, 88% were marked simply as “POS Guest”. I’ll venture this isn’t an unusual situation for most of you.
But, what was interesting was that the average order value of a “POS Guest” sale was $95.92 and for the 12% of customers that had data collected, the average order value was $230.61. You could argue that these were higher value shipping customers to begin with, but you can’t argue that when someone gives you their contact information there is an implied connection – a permission granted that “I know you and I’ll permit you to continue our relationship”. This relationship, if handled correctly, will lead to more sales.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to collect data at every opportunity for your business.
But, how do you tackle that 88%?
The first step to data collection is identifying the how, and when to do it. This is called a Touchpoint plan and means identifying the key points when you might collect data, what the expectations are for customers, barriers you might face, and missed opportunities you can capitalize on. In the presentation I gave last year at the WIN conference, I proposed there were four steps to go through.
At first you’ll want to map out all opportunities (channels) you have to come into contact with the customer. Typical ones for wineries are phone calls, meeting customers at events at the winery, meeting customers at offsite tasting events, drop in visitors to the tasting room, appointments to the tasting room, social media, email inquiries and website inquiries or orders. At each of these “intersections”, there is a chance to collect data, or not. They are all different and you certainly won’t get 100% of the customer data captured on all of them.
So you’ll want to prioritize. Since you’ll want some quick wins to show the impact of your efforts, I suggest you focus on the highest volume channels first. For instance if you hardly have any email or website inquiries, then don’t worry about processing that channel immediately and focus on the tasting room where you touch 70% of your new customers.
When you’ve identified your channel opportunities, you’ll want to take a beat and think through each of them individually. A common mistake is developing one process for collecting data and trying to apply it to all circumstances. You’ll need to consider consumer expectations, as they’ll differ across channels. Someone purchasing on a website expects to have to give an address, birth date and credit card, but someone calling for a tasting appointment may not. A sign up sheet in a tasting room may differ from one at an offsite event. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think about what information you’d be comfortable sharing in each situation and how you’d want to be asked.
And don’t forget about your employees – you’ll want to consider their goals and challenges as well. The tasting room is the best example where management goals may not jive with employees. While the DTC manager wants data collection, a tasting room employee who is strictly compensated on sales might be reticent to give up a casual banter with a customer to ask for a name and address. Technology limitations come into play here, too. Understand what the employees on the front line are having to deal with to gather data and remove as many barriers as possible. You don’t want customers to stand in line waiting to buy while the employee is hunting and pecking on a difficult computer system typing in an address. Appreciate their input on achieving your goals and make them part of the solution, and you should have less problems.
So you have your channels, priorities and input. Now it is time to map out a proposed processes. This could be diagrammed – for instance how customers should be directed through the tasting room to sign up for a tour or set up for a tasting. This might also be a script used on the phone, or a review of your website “sign up for our mailing list” page. Don’t forget how this data is processed, merged and put in some sort of a database (there’s that CRM word again) so it can be acted upon. Think about contingencies for weekends, part time staff, duplicates, foreign visitors, and other hiccups that might arise.
When you have a plan, run it by your employees – they’re your best bet to help you identify some of those hiccups or potential problems. They are on the front line, after all. They can tell you how often they have to deal with international vistors, or incomplete addresses, or crowded tasting bars and will likely have good ideas how to navigate the challenges.
After you have everyone’s input, then take a look at your tools and technology. Is a clicker and a sign-in book sufficient, or do you need an ipad? Is the tasting bar too busy on a Saturday and maybe you need a part time person in the back entering in shipping orders? Tools don’t have to mean expensive CRM systems. Pick what works for your employees, your space, your wi-fi connectivity and your budget to get the job done.
This is when most wineries say they’re done, and then are exasperated when results don’t appear. Just like any other implementation, you have to roll this out to your employees – and sometimes multiple times. Call a meeting and explain the value of data collection. Document your capture plan, remind them that it was a collaborative development, and then set clear expectations for following the new rules. Bring this up frequently and reiterate it in meetings and in person. Implied with this is that you care – which means that you’re monitoring their adherence to the plan, and are willing to take feedback. Benchmarking is important here, as well as sharing success and failures with the staff. If unforeseen problems arise; listen, adjust, re-document and move on. Expect it to be gradually accepted over the course of the next few months with some enthusiastic early adopters, and some laggards resistant to change. If you keep reinforcing the importance of data collection to your company’s success (and their ultimate annual bonus or paycheck), eventually everyone should come around.
Remember, data capture is in everyone’s best interest, including the customer, so if you make it a key objective of your winery, you’re sure to succeed.