Customer service is the lifeblood of most businesses, but it’s especially vital in the wine industry. Since wine customers range from the complete novice to connoisseur, their needs vary greatly. This makes it even more important to provide exceptional service to ensure that everyone leaves the tasting room with a high level of satisfaction – and an eagerness to return. Here are 10 ways you can improve your customer service.
Greet visitors immediately
A prompt, friendly greeting provides an excellent first impression to your visitors, but more importantly, it acknowledges that you’re aware of them and are available to help. Some wineries will employ a designated greeter or receptionist to ensure every guest receives a warm welcome. An effective greeting can also help identify your customer’s needs immediately, setting the stage for the rest of their visit.
No matter how busy it gets, don’t forget to take a moment to introduce yourself to visitors. An introduction will prompt customers to introduce themselves, which opens the door to further interactions. Customers will become more engaged and have a deeper connection to your winery if they feel the service is more personal and they’re not just another number.
Hire or train knowledgeable staff
Since there’s such a variance in wine knowledge amongst tasting room visitors, it’s important to position your staff as authorities on your wines. Some visitors may not know anything about wine and will look to staff members to guide them. Others may be quite familiar with wine and want to discuss tannin levels, food pairings, or various other things that require some expertise. Staff members should be knowledgeable enough to answer a range of questions from customers with varying levels of wine familiarity.
Too often, tasting room staff are content to pour wine without actually engaging customers – which creates a very lackluster experience! Engaging your customers will help to establish a personal connection with your business, as well as allow you to better identify your visitor’s needs and potential sales opportunities.
Make your regulars feel special
Encourage interactions between you and your regular guests. Regardless of how busy you are, acknowledge them and show you’re happy to see them through a wave or smile – or even a greeting if you can manage it. If you remember their name, all the better!
Vary your tasting presentations
If visitors are hanging around the tasting room, they’ll likely overhear your tasting presentations, so it’s best to keep them as varied as possible. Repeating the same information to each group of visitors makes the whole experience feel rehearsed and impersonal, which could cause your visitors to tune out, become disinterested, or simply decide they won’t return.
Offer a well-designed tasting list
Your tasting list may not be at the forefront when you think of customer service, but part of providing great customer service is the ability to anticipate the needs of your visitors. The cost of a tasting and the number of wines included with it should be clearly listed and easy to discern to eliminate any confusion. Adding the level of the quality of wines (for example, good, better, best) can help those with limited tasting experience select wines that will maximize their experience.
Be low-key with your wine club push
We’ve all experienced aggressive sales pitches; often, it can feel off-putting and uncomfortable. When presenting information about your wine club to customers, it should be as simple and low-key as possible. Instead of delivering a pitch immediately, start by simply having a conversation with the customer. As the conversation progresses and you learn more about their preferences, you can segue into asking, “Are you a member of our wine club?” From there, you should be able to read the customer’s level of interest and tailor your pitch accordingly.
Handle complaints immediately
Many times, customers who have complaints just want to feel heard and acknowledged. Handling complaints as soon as you’re aware of them shows that you truly care about their satisfaction and the level of service you provide. Often, a short, simple phrase like, “I understand why you’re upset,” can diffuse some of their frustration. Offer a sincere apology, then find a solution that will make them happy. After their problem is solved, thank them for bringing the issue to your attention.
Aim to exceed expectations
Think back to a time when you were really impressed with the customer service you received; chances are, the business went above and beyond standard service. When you aim to exceed your customers’ expectations, they’re more likely to remember your business, refer friends, and become repeat customers. Ask yourself, “What can I give my customers that they can’t find anywhere else?”