You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello…
When a Wine Club member’s credit card is declined when you are processing a Club shipment. Do you
- Immediately alert your customer and invite them to log into the website to update their information.
- Set it aside to (hopefully) deal with it later when you have the time.
- Cower in fear at the possibility of actually having to interact with a customer who might decide to quit buying wine from you.
- Wait, you mean I’m actually supposed to do something about declined credit cards?
A recent workshop at IBG helped me to refocus my strategy for how I handle declined credit cards in my wine club. As a result of a sloppy approach, I realized I was wasting time, losing Titus Vineyards Wine Club members, and forfeiting wine sales. I was already emailing the declines at the time of processing, but after that my follow up was haphazard. It was time to create and employ a consistent strategy. I decided to reframe the yucky situation of declined credit cards as another opportunity to reconnect an existing customer with Titus Vineyards. Instead of assuming that a Wine Club member’s declined credit card meant “Goodbye”, I decided it was a precursor to a friendly “Hello, My New Best Friend”.
I started with an email. Rethink makes it really easy to email declines after batching your club. Be sure to warn club members not to include their credit card information in a reply email but to instead log in and update their account. Create a sense of urgency in these emails. Try the following:
“I need updated information so I can get your wine out to you right away before (insert one or more of the following as needed)
- the reorder discount ends.
- the weather gets too warm to ship.
- we run out of this wine.
- your Club membership is jeopardized.
“I would hate for you to miss out on this … (insert one of the following options)
- winery only
- Wine Club only
…wine while all your fellow Club members are telling me how much they are enjoying it.”
Next, re-batch our club on a specified date to charge those declines that have immediately responded. If you still have a few declines, follow up with a postcard or phone call. Again, choose your words and create a sense of urgency.
The next step was to tighten the bad credit card cancellation policy. Decide how many club shipments a club member can skip due to a declined credit card before you cancel their membership. If they hit that number then send them a polite letter alerting that you are going to cancel their wine club membership. Explain that their credit card was declined and that you didn’t receive any response to your prior communications. Encourage them to rejoin the club at any point and thank them for their past support of your brand.
One Club member, who received a cancellation letter at his billing address, was horrified to learn that his overworked assistant hadn’t updated his Club membership. I got back on the assistant’s radar in a big way when I told her I still had the wines available to send from his missed Club shipments. After perusing her bosses purchasing history, I made a few personalized suggestions. The boss bit and purchased nearly 6 cases of wine, including large formats and 2 cases of missed Club wine.
Another club member realized his spam filter was preventing my emails from getting to him. He updated his information, increased his Wine Club membership level, asked to receive the missed Club shipments and filled me on his eminent job change which opened the doors for corporate gifting conversations.
In experimenting with this approach, all of the Wine Club members who received cancellation letters immediately telephoned to re-enroll in the Wine Club. Not one of the Wine Club members I spoke with was rude or angry or put out. In fact, they were thrilled to be talking with silly old me in my jeans and flip flops at my desk in the funky old Titus Vineyards farmhouse. It was a valuable lesson. By tightening my strategy I decreased my overall number of declined credit cards, wasted less time, strengthened customer connections and sold more wine. Hello indeed.
Titus Vineyards - www.titusvineyards.com