Vineyard Scene

opportunities in wine club credit card declines

Customer Service

The most challenging part of running your wine club is chasing declined orders.  Holidays, hackers, and economic downturns can all increase the percentage of declined cards.  Even though these orders would be easier to deal with if the cards had authorized, this is a great opportunity for customer contact and increasing sales.  Following are tips and guidelines for shaping the communication to the club member so it is a positive (and profitable) experience.

prepare for cancellations

They are going to happen. You (and your fellow callers) should remember that it isn’t any worse than when you started.  It is when you regain billing information and/or upsell that you should celebrate.

handling objections and solutions to those objections

Have a list of objections/solutions to cancelation reasons readily available.  For example, Too much wine?  Reduce the number of shipments.  Shipping too expensive?  Consolidate shipments and send as a full case, etc.

have a list of up-selling opportunities

Getting the club member to take their shipment is great but you should also have other wines on special.  Have them take advantage of a lower per-bottle cost of shipping by doubling the number of bottles.  A full case offer would also be great to have.  Are there non-wine items that can be offered?  Are there gifting opportunities?  Give them a deal if they are sending a gift to a friend.

communicating – start with a phone call if you can

Email is great and can be crafted to offer a similar message, but the static nature and ease of ignoring it make it less effective.  To maximize the phone calls’ efficacy, get a list of the customers who had declined orders, ranked by their total dollars purchased.  Those who have purchased the most are your most loyal and are the first you should call.

Once you have your call list, make your phone calls.  Let them be at ease.  Remember, you’re trying to get them something they want, this isn’t punitive.  Be sure they know the options for adding to their club shipment and make changes to their order as you talk.

While you’re talking, see if you can find out more about their habits.  Do they need more wine than you are sending?  Would they prefer different varietals?  Make them happy you called by making their club better.

After you have their updated payment information, be sure to authorize it while they are on the phone.  Don’t wait until later when there might be another issue with the charge, and you have to call them again.

let them know about upcoming events, or online specials

Ask if they are planning a visit to the winery soon and offer a unique and special experience while they visit.  See if any referrals to local businesses are needed for activities, lodgings, meals, or anything else.

after a short period of time (a week at the most), send an email to those who have not been reached

Be sure to craft the email so there is an upsell opportunity – a great way is with a coupon that has an expiration date so they are inspired to action.  Include a link to your online store where they can login and update their information.

Using these tips when communicating with your club members can really help increase their satisfaction and your sales. Following up on declined credit cards is a great excuse to call your customers, make sure they are taken care of and keep your business thriving.

By Lloyd Vance, Napa, California