Interview With CX Ambassador Graham Clark

Interview with Graham Clark, sales and marketing manager at B Cellars, a vineyard in Napa Valley, CA, about his career in the customer experience space.


Sara Staffaroni

February 10, 2020

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We kicked off our Customer Experience (CX) Ambassadors Program in January featuring an interview with Myshka Sansoin, manager of customer advocacy and self-service activation at BRP. This month, a few members of our team—including yours truly—had the privilege of meeting, Graham Clark, one of our CX Ambassadors, at his place of work: B Cellars Vineyards and Winery in Napa, California.

Graham Clark, sales and marketing manager at B Cellars, was born and raised in the Napa Valley and has been working in the wine industry for over a decade. Throughout his career, he’s worked with hundreds of wineries to further their sales, marketing, and communication efforts with individual wine consumers.

Graham generously gave us a private tour of the vineyard, accompanied by a memorable and truly one-of-a-kind, food, and wine pairing experience. Between sips and bites, we talked about his CX program and where he’d like to see it progress for the company.

Q: Graham, how did you find yourself working in the customer experience space? 

I didn’t intend to be in the CX industry. Being in the hospitality industry, I knew that customer experience was critical, but putting an official label and set of initiatives around it just kind of happened. I was asked about sending surveys and tracking the responses in Salesforce and I said that it was doable. And when I started looking into it, a whole new world opened up.

Then I found GetFeedback, and I saw an enormous potential for our business. That’s when it got fun and became more than just a project that I was tasked with figuring out—CX impacts sales, marketing, product releases, pricing, data management, job descriptions. Now I’m always trying to figure out how else to evolve our CX program.

Q: How would you define great customer experience?

Giving customers what they want when they want it, how they want it. And when you fail, own it and bend over backward to make it right. The customer gets to decide if they had a great experience.

Q: Tell us about your customer experience program. 

Our customer experience program is all about building relationships with our customers. The scores are a nice barometer, but they are secondary. Customers join us for 90 minutes for the finest wine and food experience in the Napa Valley. The day after their visit, we send the customer a survey asking for a 1-5 rating on our 3 service areas: Hospitality, Wine, and Food. We also offer an open comments field to allow them to elaborate on the experience. 

Those responses come back into Salesforce and get funneled back to the team member who hosted their experience. This gives us an extra opportunity to reach out and thank them, ask for another order, plan their next visit, etc. If the feedback was negative, the management team is alerted and contacts the customer directly to try to smooth things over.

Q: How is your CX team structured?

We consider everyone at B Cellars to be on the CX team. Everyone here affects a customer’s interaction with the company in some way. But, for the purposes of this question, the Board of Managers sets our service standards that frame our CX policies, expectations, and processes around a unified goal.

I manage the back-end, technology side of things including design, deployment, data capture, initiatives, and planning. Our concierge kicks off the whole process by inputting visitation data into Salesforce, triggering the survey emails. Our management team monitors and reviews all incoming responses, both good and bad, and responds to any negative reviews or comments. Our sales staff monitors feedback from customers that they had direct interaction with and responds to each customer who takes the time to complete the survey. 

Q: What is a typical day in the life for your team?

As it relates to our specific CX program, all of our data is mapped to Salesforce. Our sales reps can see responses from their customers on dashboards and follow up with them using automated tasks set in the CRM. The management team monitors responses in real-time via actions and alerts and we often respond to negative reviews during the same business day. 

Our concierge team is inputting the information into Salesforce that triggers the email from GetFeedback. It sounds like a lot of moving parts but it is really just about being aware and staying proactive. Most of our day is focused around real-time, in-person interactions and then planning on extending that experience after they leave.

Q: What are you most proud of in your customer experience career? 

I’m proud that we’ve been able to apply the idea of customer experience across our entire company. Everyone has a role to play but everyone also understands that the customer doesn’t experience B Cellars by the separate departments within the company; they experience B Cellars as a whole. 

I’ve utilized the knowledge gained from my previous experiences to initiate and build a full CX program, with GetFeedback and Salesforce acting as the foundation. The program has been overwhelmingly successful, receiving over a 20% response rate and an average rating of 4.9/5 on all three of our key metrics. The plans, procedures, and clearly defined responsibilities of our CX team have led to increased customer loyalty, increased sales revenue, and has increased customer.

Q: What has been your biggest customer experience challenge? 

Our biggest challenge is getting everyone to buy into the mandate that every survey response requires a follow-up effort. Everyone has a busy schedule so asking for follow up on every completed survey gets some resistance sometimes. But it’s getting better and people are starting to see the benefit of those additional positive touches. The customers certainly notice the additional touchpoints.

Q: Is there anything about your work that keeps you up at night?

I worry about the customer who has had a negative experience but chooses not to respond to our surveys. If they’re not telling us, who are they telling and through what channels?

Q: What’s missing in your CX program that you’d like to see? 

We haven’t applied different surveys to different customer segments and we haven’t used the surveys for any other parts of the business. It’s really a time issue more than anything.

Q: Based on your experience, what are some best practices that you would recommend to other CX professionals?

Develop a plan and identify key stakeholders within your company to manage each part of that plan. Know what you are trying to accomplish with the program. Are you looking for feedback to drive decision making about a particular part of the business? Are you looking to further relationships with customers? 

Whatever the reason for implementing a CX strategy, it’s not enough to just put a survey out there. Collecting data for no reason is pointless. Evaluate all of the possibilities and have a plan in place to deal with them. Something new will always come up, but if you’re prepared for most scenarios, you’ll see an immediate return on the investment.

Q: What’s next for you and your CX team? 

We’re adding segmented surveys for repeat visitors, a new survey for our events side of the business, and fact-finding surveys to be deployed to “at-risk” customers. 

We’ve identified when wine club members tend to drop out so we’re going to reach out and get their feedback prior to that date. At the very least we’ll get some valuable info, but we’ll probably also extend some memberships and increase sales while lowering attrition. We’re also redesigning our website, so we’re exploring how we might extend our CX program digitally.

Upon completion, we will be in a tremendous position to provide our customers with an unmatched experience that is informed by data and nurtured by personal, one on one relationships.

Q: Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to share?

I think it has become very common, almost expected, that the tools we use in our jobs are just products and programs that only exist on our computers. From the beginning, GetFeedback has proved that it doesn’t have to be that way. From sales to support and beyond, they have been a true partner. It goes beyond just practicing what they preach—it really does feel like our successes are theirs too. As a customer, it makes my life a lot easier knowing that I have a relationship with real people. GetFeedback has set the bar very high.

Learn how GetFeedback can help you exceed customers’ expectations—start your free trial today.

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