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As of the very second that I am typing this story there have been 333,920,235 tweets posted today. Since I wrote the previous sentence, there have been another couple of hundred thousand tweets. Check it out for yourself, here.

There are (as of July) 8,796 photos uploaded every second from over 200 million users on SnapChat.

30% of all internet users are on Instagram and of those, 60% of the 500 million Instagram users log in daily.

The numbers seem unreal; but the sheer volume of people talking about themselves is a huge boon to anyone in a sales and customer service business.

Think back to the single best customer service interaction you have had as a consumer- what made it so amazing? If it wasn’t amazing or if you had a problem, did they empathize with what happened? Did they understand your needs when, or even before, you did? Did they treat you like an insider? Whatever it was that caught your attention to make the experience great is the key. The best part- it wasn’t a fluke, wasn’t a one-time thing where they got lucky. Chances are that your positive experience was calculated, clever, and quite intelligent from a business perspective.

I will use a personal example here: when I was managing sales for Canyon Wind Cellars and dating my girlfriend (now wife), we loved a particular restaurant in our then hometown of Vail, CO.  They weren’t the necessarily the best brand supporters for CWC, but they were one of the few that would work with our products in the Vail Valley. Every time we dined with them, they made a huge effort to make us feel like royalty. We would frequently eat items not on the menu, get extra small bites and snippets of great wines that they had open for one reason or another; and frequently, servers that we had never seen before knew our names. It was not like we were their best customers or even in the top-100 customers, with a wine list starting at $50 and reaching to the mid four digits, we were not even a drop in the bucket for their bottom line given our small budget as a ski coach/wine salesman and fundraiser for a local non-profit. We were not the hottest winery on the block. Heck, at this time Colorado wine was almost a dirty word. So why did they do it? Simple, they wanted to be great at customer service for all of their guests because in the Vail Valley great food is everywhere, but epic service is not. This was an easy way to set themselves apart and get repeat business in the restaurant industry there. How did they know that this is what made us happy and feel special? They listened, they saw the tips we left, they took notes (restaurant CRM’s are an incredibly powerful tool); quite simply, they built a relationship.

The wine industry from the tasting room standpoint is very much like the high-end restaurant industry in a Colorado resort town. There are many great wines out there, and while we all stake our business on the quality of our products, relying solely on your product is the hardest way to stand out. The service that you can provide, on the other hand, is an easier and more effective way to make an impact on your guests. So what does all of this have to do with social media? Your customers, potential customers, and long time regulars are utilizing a myriad of social media platforms and posting information about themselves- photos of themselves with friends and family, places they’ve traveled, experiences they’ve enjoyed; shared posts about things that interest them and things that upset them- a wealth of information that can be easily accessed. Since great customer service is about building rapport and a relationship, why then would you not spend time and money to make that happen?

This is doubly important in the tasting room because the product, by and large, does not matter. Let me say that again, your product is not important. Now before you throw your iPad across the room, jump over to Facebook to post your hatred for the upstart consulting firm out of Colorado, or something else rash, hear me out. The average person can clearly taste and internalize somewhere around five wines and that is probably being generous. Now if you’re fortunate enough to be the first winery visit of your guest’s day, then you are in well poised to have your product be memorable (assuming that they didn’t just brush their teeth, drink some OJ in the car, or have a smoke before they came in). But what if you are the third winery visit of the day? The sixth? There is simply no way that your product will impact a customer that has had 20-30 tastings, and may or may not be slightly inebriated.

You will be better off as a tasting room if you embrace the fact that you are actually selling an experience and not just product. If you make this paradigm shift, your tasting room sales will go up, your customers will be happier, and you in turn will be happier too. The downside to all of this is that it takes work and time, no longer are you waiting for people to walk in the door, you are working for every person you can reach.

I want to be clear here, this is not just sending a few emails every month and posting a story on the company Facebook page every couple of days (you have a Facebook page for the company, right?). This is not hopping on #followfriday and #winewednesday on Twitter every couple of weeks. This is looking at your customers, finding them on social media, listening to them, and taking notes. In our company point-of-sale program, we utilized flags to notate tidbits or special information that we learned about our customers. A wine club member’s favorite number is 24? Great! We make note of that in our system and when we hand number our premium wine, we’ll be sure to set aside bottle #24 to go in that wine club member’s shipment. Over the top? Nope.

Social media is a deep pool of information and it is up to you to do the work to fish out the information that can make you a customer service rock star. Your customers will be happier, your tasting room will be more interesting, your sales will be up, and you will have connected with your customers in a whole new and more meaningful way.

Need help safely and efficiently navigating the social media mine field? Reach out to us and we can help!