Customer service has long been something that fascinates me. It’s mind boggling how many people there are from owners to managers to staff that don’t understand the significance of knock-your-socks off customer service. As Paul Mabray, owner of Vintank, says in this long but worthy read, making good wine is no longer enough. Customer service is the differentiator.
It’s just that simple folks.
If you are an owner or manager you really need to make sure you are hiring the right people and then doing regular training with them. And as the owner or manager it certainly never hurts to refresh your own customer service skills.
I was recently sent a DVD to check out called “Tasting Room Sales Training: Building Sales & Hospitality Skills for Wineries & Tasting Rooms” from Barrie Cleveland (he made the DVD), founder and managing partner of WineryAdvisor.com. I think it’s a very informative DVD with lots of great points as well as some good ideas.
It covers things like the purpose of the tasting room, sales associate job description, understanding your visitors, tasting room sales process, and wine club sales. Personally, I think having your staff watch something like this could be quite valuable. Of course you may not like every single idea in something like this and that’s okay. The point is to at least get some ideas and remain open minded in order to grow your business through better customer service.
Although much of the “customer service” conversation seems like common sense there are still too many people and too many businesses getting it wrong. Whether you’re in the tasting room interacting with customers, at an offsite event or on social media…the one common thread is the relationship. However, you need to remember that talking to a customer in the tasting room will be different from how you engage with them at an event or when you’re on Facebook or Twitter. It really is about understanding the culture of the venue…meaning, Facebook is different than an offsite wine event so don’t treat them the same.
As obnoxious as Gary Vaynerchuk can be, he’s another guy in the wine industry that has really pushed the message that it is about relationships. Some of the stories he tells about his days at Wine Library are absolutely insane to me. They are examples of getting customer service right. In fact, not just getting in right, but going above and beyond. By doing so, creating customers for life.
Going back to Paul Mabray who I mentioned in the beginning of this piece, he has another line that I like quite a bit. It goes something like this…’there is always ROI in talking with your customers’. Times have changed. The consumer has changed. They have changed because of things like social media. Facebook and Twitter have changed the dynamic. The consumer has different expectations now and those expectations happen when they are physically in your tasting room and when they are trying to talk to you online.
Build the relationship and the money will come. That is the world we live in today. Customer service is, without question, the differentiator.
I strongly recommend reading the link to that talk by Paul Mabray. I would also encourage you to look into that DVD by Winery Advisor and read pretty much anything Gary Vaynerchuk writes (his book The Thank You Economy would be a good start). Again, some people are turned off by his delivery but the guy is right and he has some great thoughts.
My goal in writing this is somewhat selfish. I really want Paso to stand out. I think it already does but when it comes to customer service I think we can always do better. Build relationships all the time…in person, at events, on Facebook…everywhere! Be the winery that people can’t stop talking about.
Side note: I am making no money from any of the links above or from any of the folks I mentioned.