There was a lively discussion on Twitter last week about what to do for wine club members that are dropping out due to changes in their economic situation. Since I just wrote about what wineries can do to help retain wine club members, I thought this would be a good follow up topic. So what can a winery do when members call to cancel?
When a wine club member calls to cancel a membership it is important that the person answering that phone call be understanding of the difficult situation in which people find themselves. This sounds like an obvious statement, but too often winery staff seem to take personal affront to a membership drop. It is hard enough for people to call and acknowledge a situation they may find embarrassing. The last thing they need is a wine club manager haranguing them. It’s not personal; it’s just life. What is most important is that the winery keeps the wine club member as an active customer. This means at minimum keeping the customer on the email list and informed of winery events and sales.
Vintner Jeff Stai at Twisted Oak (@ElJefeTwisted on Twitter) goes even further. He gives wine club members who may think they need to drop their membership the option of retaining their wine club perks while temporarily suspending their shipments. This is a great way to hang on to good customers and it keeps them in the loop for winery sales and events. Eventually the economy will turn around and the customers with whom you are still in contact will be your best bet as returning wine club members before you even reach out to new customers.
Another thing that a winery can do when a member drops out is to send a personal note and some kind of gift from the winery. Travessia Urban Winery’s Marco Montez (@Travessia on Twitter) sends a bottle of wine with his note thanking them for having been a part of the club and hoping to see them in the future. Wow! Now that is caring customer service. The personal contact made by a hand-written note is important in keeping a good relationship with the customer, especially if the cancellation is due to financial hardship. For a large winery that is experiencing a significant attrition, sending a bottle of wine may be cost-prohibitive, but there are other options. The gift of a simple logo corkscrew can be just as effective. The most important part is that the note be hand-written, person-to-person, and that it conveys the good wishes of the winery.
Above all, keep in touch with your former wine club members whenever possible. Don’t forget to still include them in the life of the winery with party invites, email updates, birthday and anniversary contacts, and the occasional “Hope things are going well” note. Just because someone cancels a wine club membership does not mean that they no longer drink wine or they don’t want to continue to enjoy yours. A former wine club member can still be a great customer.