Who hasn’t heard of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you? Many service professionals base their service standards on this model by treating others as they would like to be treated. Yet in our “experience economy”—especially for a luxury industry like wine—we’ve got to go beyond the Golden Rule. This standard is just not enough to provide truly phenomenal service like high-end retailers and service providers such as Nordstrom, Tiffany’s, Ritz-Carlton, etc.
Successful winery tasting room professionals have learned that it isn’t sufficient to be simply polite or helpful. With so many great wineries for customers to choose from, how will your brand stand out in a market that offers a plethora of seemingly similar choices? The key is to sell the experience—not just the wine—and make the service exceptional, the interaction unique and the experience memorable!
May is the official start of tourist season for wineries. If you have not done so already, staging a joint open house between wineries can be a great way to strengthen the relationship with your neighbors while doubling the number of visitors stopping by your tasting room.
Having the brochures of other wineries available in your tasting room, writing the names of other tasting room managers on your business card, suggesting other wineries to visit, etc., are all part of the marketing secret of 1 + 1 = 3. Everyone gains by it, and your visitors will have a great memory of the cooperation.
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For an extraordinary customer experience, move beyond the Golden Rule to the Platinum Rule. Instead of treating others as you would want to be treated, treat customers as they want to be treated. How do you know how a specific customer wants to be treated? Not all customers are the same, and one size does not fit all.
This next step is about customers’ wants and needs—so find out what they are. Find out how customerswant to be treated and then do it. It’s as easy as 1-2-3!
Be curious. Ask open-ended questions to engage customers and determine their needs and wants. If you don’t ask questions, how can you know what their interests are?
Listen well. Pay attention to customers’ responses—both verbal and non-verbal—and be sure to create dialogue around their answers. Build the discussion around their interests and, when possible, relate them back to your brand, your wines or their experiences at your winery. A discussion about common non-wine-related interests may be engaging, but it is not as useful as building rapport around wine, food and travel-related topics that better lend themselves to creating a memorable experience with your brand.
Respond appropriately. As you learn more about the guest in front of you, figure out how to tailor your conversation and their guest experience in a way that shows you understand what might interest them. When you ask questions, listen to the replies and begin to build a relationship with the person in front of you. This rapport creates a feeling of trust, and trust leads to sales.
Building a connection and tailoring the discussion to your guests’ needs creates a unique experience and makes it memorable. For example, if you’ve found out that your guest visits wine country a couple of times per year for wine club events, be sure to tell them about your upcoming events. Or if your guest collects small-lot vineyard-designate Pinot Noir, be sure to offer a bonus pour of yours. The goal is to find something enticing to them—based on what you’ve learned by having a dialogue—and then adjust the experience or the conversation accordingly.
By doing this well, you not only exceed your guest's expectations, you also set yourself up to make an easier, more natural sale.
One size does not fit all. Get to know your customers individually and deliver a platinum experience they deserve. Why not try the Platinum Rule on for size?
Based on the success of our 2013 Wine Anti-Counterfeiting Seminar, Wines & Vines is planning a late-summer packaging conference for wine industry professionals. Speakers include experts on closures, screen printing, anti-tampering technology, labels and more. The conference includes lunch and will take place Aug. 20 in Napa, Calif. View the schedule and register here. For information about exhibiting at the event, contact Tina Vierra at (415) 453-9700, ext. 102.
Antiquated Wine Shipping Laws
Jeff Jacoby, columnist for The Boston Globe, reviews the Massachusetts law prohibiting the direct shipment of wine from other states. Learn the facts behind this law and other states where direct shipping is prohibited here.
Wine Club Retention
Rob McMillan of Silicon Valley Bank takes to his blog to share his thoughts about retaining (and growing) your wine club roster.
I have always thought that Chateauneuf-du-Pape’s embossed bottles were a great marketing coup. Now wines from Yamhill-Carlton are appearing on store shelves and restaurant tables in proprietary bottles embossed with the logo and name of the Willamette Valley sub-AVA. Peter Mitham looks into this development here.
Starbucks gets into wine and beer
Paul Franson reviews the move by Starbucks to enter the wine and beer market as a way to sustain the company’s growth and maximize revenue by catering to evening crowds.
Wine Industry Metrics
It was another great month for direct-to-consumer sales.