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Genevieve Verdier
 
March 7, 2016 | Customer Relationship Management (CRM) | Genevieve Verdier

Great customer service is essential

Great customer service is essential for all businesses. According to a study by the software company Corvisa, a bad experience can adversely affect sales. Twenty-six percent of the consumers they surveyed once outright canceled their orders because of a frustrating customer service encounter.

That's not the only worrisome statistic. Nearly half of the shoppers - 48 percent - said they'd stopped doing business with a company altogether because of bad experiences within the past year. Imagine if half of a tasting room's visitors decided not to come back. The blow to profits would be damaging, but so would the loss of word-of-mouth marketing. That means 50 percent fewer people are talking about a particular wine and sharing it among friends and family. In fact, Corvisa found angry consumers were more likely to badmouth your wine business after bad service than to hide their frustrations. Forty-nine percent said they'd complain to people they know, and 21 percent indicated they'd write a negative review online.

The Internet is fast becoming the go-to place for customer service and complaints. This isn't surprising when one considers millennials will soon outnumber baby boomers. Since the young demographic consumed more wine last year than any other, it's incredibly important that your business meets their expectations.

According to Corvisa, millennials preferred using email to contact customer service than older consumers, and they were also more likely to use social media. While they generally had more patience when put on hold, they were more likely to hang up, cancel service or stop doing business with a winery if their expectations weren't met. Since 17 percent contacted a customer service department at least twice a week, one should assume these expectations are pretty high.

Customer service in all aspects of your wine business
Wineries should use this data to survey their own consumer experience. Are you meeting the needs of your average shoppers, or does your customer service leave many dissatisfied? If your business leaves people annoyed or disappointed, how do you and your employees try to remedy the situation?

If a customer does have a complaint, don't dismiss them or put their concerns on the back burner - handle it immediately. Patty Held Consulting said shoppers mainly want to be listened to when they're upset, and acknowledging their feelings as soon as the problem arises goes a long way towards alleviating their frustration. After you've started the conversation, don't provide excuses. People don't want to know why a problem occurred - they just want to see it solved.

Likewise, online wine retailers should handle any negative reviews or social media posts as swiftly as possible. Patty Held Consulting listed several free tools to help you keep track of any social media mentions, including Google Alerts, TweetDeck and Technorati.

Ultimately, customer service comes down to a well-trained staff. Tasting room employees should be kind and approachable, while your online support should be courteous and professional in any responses they send. Wine is about the experience - product, personal enjoyment, sales encounter and all.

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