Technology doesn’t matter – just start walking

blog_header_greenYou might be surprised the week before the Wine Industry Technology Forum, or with all my technology background, to hear this statement from me.

Of course technology matters, you say. We spend hours of research, and follow geeky blogs, (like this one) and go to conferences and sit in webinars to find out the best technology partners for our wine business.  We obsess about which is the best; because if we don’t have the right tools, how can we expect to have proper CRM?


Some Examples

Look at the crème de la crème example of CRM – the Ritz Carlton.  I had the pleasure of staying there back in The Ritz Carlton offers the best in class CRMJanuary.  I showed up and the valet asked me my name.  While I fussed with my purse and keys he discretely repeated it in the microphone in his collar to announce me to the smiling girl at the door who greeted me by name and asked “how my drive from Napa was in the rain?” Within our 40-second stroll to the front desk, my reservation was up, the credit card on file was charged and all I needed to do was smile and get my key. When I ordered dinner, the person who answered the phone asked me what wines I had enjoyed lately and if I had any tips for her (because she saw on her screen, when my room number popped up, that I worked in the wine industry and lived in Napa).  And, dinner included a thank you note from the chef with a recipe on my tray. When I go back, (oh please, God, let me go back) I know their extensive and well-tuned software has tracked what type of soap the maid replaced, and if I nibbled on the fruit basket or ate the chocolate on the pillow so my room can be pre-set accordingly.

Sometimes collecting customer data is a startBut let’s look at another example.  A small boutique I stumbled up on a couple months ago down in Silicon Valley which was privately owned and featured local, struggling jewelry makers and fashion designers.  The owner and I chatted.  My husband waited patiently.  And, after she sensed I was willing, with the knowledge of a wise seasoned dress shop owner, this woman started recommending clothes that would, shall we say “accent my positive and hide my negative”.  And she was right.  Everything I tried on looked fabulous.  I bought two dresses and one skirt.  At the counter she asked for my business card and I saw her scribbling on a 3×5 card.  I asked her what she was doing and she said she was noting what designers, colors and sizes I liked so that when there were new items in stock she could call me.  She even wrote down the sku # of a dress that I almost bought but thought it was too much so that if the size and color was still around when they went on sale at the end of the season she’d call me.  I walked out of there thinking this was one smart cookie.  And, when I got home, there was an email from her saying thank you.  No sale, or request to buy more – just thank you.

I submit both experiences were positive and both succeeded at integrating CRM into their daily business practices.  The first with millions in software.  The second with a pen and a box of 3×5 cards.  Was my experience at the boutique any less special because she used her years of experience in recommending products and simply wrote down notes about our interaction rather than hidden microphones and integrated telephony software?  No.


Getting Started

Blaming your lack of customer experience/CRM on not having the right technology (or enough technology or synching technology) is like blaming being overweight because you don’t have a gym membership and a personal trainer.  Put the chips down, get off the couch and go for a walk.

Here are three things you can do now, regardless of your infrastructure, to bring you steps toward CRM and better customer service.

Encourage your staff that details matter.  But don’t just tell them “collect data”.  Involve them and have a brainstorming meeting about what details will make it easier to connect with and sell more wine.  (Knowing the dogs name is nice, but I’d rather know if they’re magnum collectors, or if the wife only drinks white.) Second, give them some way to collect it – even if it is check boxes for now, or notes on the daily schedule.  Like the 3×5 cards, I worked with a tasting room manger who got a business card from every Club sign up, wrote notes on the back, kept it in a binder, and reviewed it before Club events.  Now, is this ideal?  No.  Is this a great long-term solution? No. Will it work to increase sales and get your staff thinking about this today? Yes.  And, I bet with a little bit of research, you already have systems that can accommodate these extra tidbits.

Say thank you.  We all have those friends that only call us when they want something – never to just invite Say thank you to your customersus over, or hang out.  Don’t be that friend.  There are a million ways to thank your customer.  You can handwrite notes in shipments.  You can send birthday cards.  But you can also automate this, for instance, with Vin65’s new Action email feature, and thank them after a purchase.  To do this you also have to listen, so sign up for VinTanks social media tracking and respond when someone says your wine rocks on Twitter and Facebook.  Again, if you involve your staff, I’m sure you can think of a dozen ways to say thank you to your customers.

Start a dashboard.  Like that diet – you’re now walking so let’s see if your efforts are paying off.  Set up a simple excel list of metric where you are now and start following daily, weekly and monthly trends.  Not sure how to do this?  WISE Academy has an entire class on it.  And, you don’t need fancy software to do it.

These are just baby steps, and, yes, ultimately technology will need to get involved.  But if you’re holding back or waiting for that perfect solution – don’t.  There are things you can start doing tomorrow that will move you on the path to CRM implementation today.

Happy fourth – and I look forward to seeing you all at WITS next week.

Cheers!