I write a lot about customer “engagement”, “authentic” marketing and “touch-point” analyses. This is because a major goal with all Direct Marketing channels (phone, email, web, social media) is personalization; to target the right information to the right customer at the right time for the optimum response. This requires using collected and response data to get to know your customers, and then demonstrating that you know their preferences.
But, one thing that is overlooked in all this wholesome fever about getting to know customers is that one of the key benefits in a well-tuned CRM system is the ability to automate many tasks.
“I would never have my customers interact with a robot,” you say.
You may not be too happy with that decision.
In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel H. Pink explains the differences between algorithmic tasks (repetitive) and heuristic tasks (involving thought and decision trees) and concludes that humans tend to thrive in work environments where the majority of tasks are heuristic. “The secret to high performance and satisfaction is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”
In other words, when employees are freed from monotonous administrative duties and allowed to work on their own with the purpose of solving a problem, their natural satisfaction is higher. They require fewer incentives and are generally more productive.
So, while the fact that humans are more productive in environments where they are predominantly required to think is not surprising, the number of companies who have not yet discovered CRM is. The right CRM system can eliminate a number of repetitive tasks from the your winery.
1. Administrative Touches
On tasks where speed is of the essence versus that personal note, auto-generated administrative emails do just fine. Customers appreciate an automatic thank you for an online purchase or reservation, and receipts emailed from the POS system, a packing slip detailing what wine is in the shipment or an email alerting them when their Club card is to be charged. And, packing slips, receipts and emails can all be customized and made attractive and clear. Being administrative doesn’t mean it shouldn’t represent your brand. And you can decide how far to take this. Uncomfortable with the impersonal nature of an automatic Thank You after a twitter follow – then that is where you draw the line. Your brand, your rules. But, for most customer communication that is administrative or financial in nature, instead of managers manually assigning and sending tasks to their teams (which could require multiple emails and data duplication), they can quickly set up workflows and triggers in the CRM system with the click of a button.
2. Tracking and Reporting
For dashboard tracking sales, conversions, traffic and wine clubs, the integrated reporting systems within CRM can automatically generate reports that would have either had to be entered manually or individually generated. There are built in fields in many of POS and CRM systems widely used by the valley, but I particularly like VingDirect for this. They feed directly from the POS system and create a graphical dashboard for the tasting room without them having to create tasting reports for management every month. This saves time, and allows the staff to focus on the customers, and those conversion metrics.
3. Duplication and Hygiene
As much as we try to keep it clean, data gets dirty. Especially in a winery environment when multiple people are accessing your customer database from multiple portals daily. Every web, CRM and POS system I can think of has a duplication feature to help keep duplicate records to a minimum and customer look-up fast and clean. If it gets really bad, sure, hiring a temp to manually look through de-duping once every few years is usually not a bad thing, but if done on a disciplined automated basis this become more manageable.
4. One Customer View
A CRM allows for client information to be shared across all levels at all times, including important stats like client history. This eliminates the need for data duplication and cuts out the need for multiple communications regarding the same information. If you have the databases talking to each other correctly, you can recall the customer shipping address and credit card number, and see when the last Club Shipment, visit to the winery or online purchase was, without logging into multiple databases or re-entering data.
5. Social Media Posting
With the dominance of the virtual marketplace, companies are increasingly struggling to add various forms of social media to keep in touch with clients. Tools like Vintank’s Social Connect and HootSuite allow you to monitor the conversations, bucket customers and even schedule and auto-create tweets and posts. Again, it depends on your brand, personal comfort-level and bias on how far you want to take this. We’ve all heard of funny stories of poorly scheduled tweets, but these tools can be a lifesaver and eliminate that un-natural flood of responses and postings the hour you have set aside for these activities.
So, wineries without technology can certainly pride themselves on the “personal touch”, but how much happier could your customers and employees be? The question for wineries without a CRM system is why waste valuable time on administrative tasks when a computer can do them for you? And, why fumble over administrative customer touches when speed is more important at that juncture?
Not only will your employees be able to spend more time doing the work that really matters to them (and your customers, like spending time with them at the tasting bar), they will be happier and maybe even feel less robot-like too.