When consumers interact with your brand in any way, whether it be at the vineyard on a tour, in the tasting room, the vineyard restaurant, or in your retail store, you have a responsibility to maintain a certain level of customer service. These five points will challenge you to rethink how your customers perceive your brand and how you can improve your customer service.
1 - Make Them Feel Appreciated
Think about the experience your customers get when they purchase from you. What encourages them to keep coming back to your winery as opposed to trying the new winery next door? You might think it's the service, or the atmosphere, or the events that you hold. Perhaps it is, but do your customers know that they're appreciated? I suggest demonstrating this in the form of a promotion on your website, or an event geared as an appreciation night. Even the smallest initiatives can make the biggest differences in how your customers feel.
2 - Exceed Expectations
Think of the times you've been blown away by customer service. I can bet you that the underlying theme in most of those situations has been that the business has exceeded your expectations. When you throw in something extra and give more than what's expected, you leave your customers in awe. They're so excited by it that they'll remember your name, recommend you to their friends, and they'll keep coming back over, and over, and over. It can be something as simple as a coupon for a future discount with their purchase that you haven't advertised or maybe it's a sincere hand-written thank you note sent out to each club member for being such loyal customers. The question to ask yourself is, "what can I give my customers that they cannot get anywhere else?"
3 - Be Personable
It's hard to think of a business I've called recently that doesn't have some sort of automated response - it's frustrating, isn't it? This doesn't just apply to phone calls. When someone enters your tasting room, the attendant should be personable, not an automated machine. Try to ensure that the tasting room attendant engages in conversation with your customers rather than just pour wine and swipe credit cards. As Andrew says, don’t forget the personal service. Learning your regular customer's first names and using them when you see them or talk to them on the phone will make them feel valued and important.
4 - "It's My Fault"
I once read a story of a man who needed an extra set of keys for his apartment and, on his way to work, stopped at the locksmith around the corner to have keys cut. After going back to his apartment to check the new keys, one didn't work. He returned to the locksmith where a new copy was made and when he returned home it still didn't work. Now being 30 minutes late for work, he returns to the locksmith for a third time in a place of rage, ready to unleash his anger on the locksmith. After looking at the key again the locksmith says "ah. It's my fault,"; and the man's anger evaporated. Taking the blame when appropriate can make the difference between inspiring a customer and bad publicity via word-of-mouth. Keep in mind that word-of-mouth spreads much faster than it used to with the use of social media.
5 - Conduct Mystery Shops
Having mystery shops conducted on your winery is a great way to measure your quality assurance because it's cost effective, unbiased, targeted, and the data is current and relevant. Mystery shopping is assessed by finding Customer Service Opportunities (CSO) and each industry has different areas for their CSO. For example, McDonald's has monthly mystery shops that measure speed of service, food quality, restaurant cleanliness, order accuracy, and friendliness. The luxury hotel industry is very serious about this as well and even has a company that provides comprehensive benchmarking data from conducting audits. Companies such as In Short Direct Marketing, WISE Academy, and TexaCali Wine Co. provide mystery shopping for wineries and are worth taking a look at for the services they offer.
As we careen through 2011 and the influence of social media continues to grow, it is important to remember the potential reach that your brand has. By finding ways to impress and inspire your current customers, you not only retain their business, but you gain new customers when these inspired customers share the experience with their friends.
Now that you have new insight on how to improve customer service, what will you consider changing?