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  December 5, 2016
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WISE Bites   Tasting Room Forum
Survey Says…   A Season for Celebration

Ten Tips for Customer Survey Design
Do you know what is really important to your customers? Surveys can be an important tool for gauging satisfaction with your brand and finding out what your customers truly value. They can be used to test loyalty and evaluate existing benefits, and the results can be used to drive program changes.

A study by SurveyMonkey offers some insights for creating surveys. Here are the Top 10 Tips:


1. KISS (Keep It Short and Segmented)

Overall survey length remains important for keeping abandon rates low. Are you excited about answering a 30-minute survey? People will abandon a survey quickly if it is too long. Use the fewest words to ask a question without losing its intent. Segment your customer list and keep questions relevant to each segment.

 2. Ask Smart, Open-Ended Questions

Although it’s tempting to stick with multiple-choice questions, some of the most insightful feedback will come from open-ended questions, which allow customers to share their thoughts freely.

The most telling question to measure loyalty is, “Would you recommend us to a friend?” followed by “What is the reason for your answer?” While more time-consuming to compile, these answers will get to the heart of what people like/don’t like about your brand.


Day-to-day production tasks have slowed down, and now is the season for a lot of winery events. One of them was the Nov. 18 wine competition conducted by the French-American Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco. The Best Wine Student of La Soiree 2016, managed by yours truly and sponsored by Tonnellerie Radoux general manager Louis Zandvliet, culminated in a lavish finals ceremony, during which four of the 17 students who started the competition (representing the University of California, Davis, Santa Rosa Junior College Wine Institute, The Culinary Institute of America, and San Francisco Wine School) were handed checks ranging from $1,000 to $200.

The four finalists during the blind tasting at La Soiree (from left to right) included Anastasia Utkina (UC Davis), Jenni Burgess (San Francisco Wine School), Collin Russell (Culinary Institute of America), and Yuri Shima (San Francisco Wine School).


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 "WISE Bites" continued.


 "Tasting Room Forum" continued.

 3. Ask Only Actionable Questions that Meet Your Needs

Be ruthless and cut unnecessary questions from your surveys. Every single question that you include should have a well-defined purpose and a strong reason for being included, otherwise eliminate it. Adding in extra questions you thought it couldn’t hurt to ask may cause some to quit the survey. Ask yourself: Is it interesting or actionable? Then include only actionable questions.

 4. Ask One Question at a Time

We’ve all been hit with a series of questions before: “How did you come to visit our tasting room? How was your experience? Did you understand what our wine club was about?” To get quality responses, you need to give people time to think through each individual question.
Bombarding customers with multiple points to consider at once leads to half-hearted answers by respondents just looking to get through to the end—if they even stay with the survey at all. Make things easy by sticking to one main point at a time.

 5. Make Rating Scales Consistent

Common rating scales used for surveys can become confusing if the context begins to change. Stick with the same ratings scheme: If using a scale from 1 to 5, be consistent in assigning values to those numbers. Make “1” or “5” always the best rating in every question. Or use behavioral terminology such as Strongly Agree / Agree / Neither Agree or Disagree / Disagree / Strongly Disagree.

 6. Avoid Leading Questions

Questions that lead respondents toward a certain answer due to bias in their phrasing are not useful. Here’s the example that SurveyMonkey lists as a leading question to avoid:
We have recently upgraded SurveyMonkey’s features to become a first-class tool. What are your thoughts on the new site?
Instead, the neutral, “What do you think of the recent SurveyMonkey upgrades?” should have been used.

7. Make Use of Yes/No

When you are asking a very simple question, ask it as a Yes/No option. There’s no reason to get fancy.

8. Timing is Important

SurveyMonkey found the highest survey response rates occurred on Monday, Friday and Sunday. There was no discernible difference between the response quality gathered on weekdays versus weekends, so the best bet is to seek out survey-takers first thing during a new week or to wait for the weekend.

9. Give Them an Incentive

Entice customers to take your survey. Incentives can increase response rates by 5% to 20%. These incentives could be a discount on their next purchase, complimentary shipping or tickets to an upcoming event.

10. Take Action

Most importantly, act on the survey results. Use what you learned and show it. “You spoke, we listened” is a great thing to communicate to customers to let them know that their responses really do matter.

 So, what does your survey say? 

Source: WISE Academy,



Thanksgiving gave me the opportunity to visit sparkling wines tasting rooms close to home. Breathless Wines specializes in at least four bubblies being served at their brand new, avant-garde decorated tasting room in downtown Healdsburg (Sonoma County), under the friendly and enthusiastic management of sales manager James Reddick.

Presentation is a great part of sparkling wine appreciation at Breathless Wines’ tasting room.

As is the trend for many wineries, Breathless was partnering with local vendors to show off locally produced items of interest to winery visitors. One of the exhibitors was Robert Maher of Maherajah Water Skis, which also manufactures wine bars that can be rolled out on the patio (as shown below).

The wine bar has a built-in compressor, which raises the body and allows the hidden wheels to roll freely.

Only a few miles separate Breathless Wines' sparkling wine business from J Vineyards, which recently was acquired by E. & J. Gallo. A 30-foot ceiling, huge wine bar, glittery backdrop, and first-class service continue the tradition of sparkling wines being the drink of celebration with class.


A tasting bar is seen from above at J Vineyards, which has been making sparkling wines since 1986.

Vinquest’s 2016 Marketing Report from Vinteractive LLC publishes results from surveys related to direct-to-consumer practices. The report can be obtained here.

October 2016 Metrics
The Winery Job Index took a dip in October but still remains strong year over year.

Direct-to-consumer shipments typically drop during the warmer months, but they were back at a record pace this October.

Total U.S. Wine Sales were up 5% the same month.

The Rosé Wine Competition released a call for entries for the March 22, 2017, wine competition.

The Direct-to-Consumer Symposium is being held Jan. 11 and 12, 2017, in Concord, Calif.

The Unified Wine & Grape Symposium follows Jan. 24-26, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif.

See a more complete calendar of wine-related events here.

Purdue University: The Purdue Wine Grape Team was established in 1989 as a partnership between the state of Indiana and the university. Indiana now has more than 60 tasting rooms. Wine marketing classes are listed here.

University of Nebraska–Lincoln: Professor Paul Reed shares his knowledge of wine with a new program called “Vines, Wines and You.” Nebraska has 30 wineries; 26 of them have tasting rooms.

Around North America
North Carolina: The home of more than 140 wineries (123 with tasting rooms) has obtained a new American Viticultural Area (AVA). The Appalachian AVA is above 3,000 feet in elevation and covers 2,400 acres that also extend into Virginia and Tennessee. Learn more here.

Oklahoma: Liquor laws are being challenged in this prairie state. Read more here.

Tennessee: The “Volunteer State” is currently the home of more than 50 wineries, 47 with tasting rooms. The University of Tennessee Extension and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics communicate strong growth in the wine industry. Read the full story.


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Jacques Brix is vice president and director of sales, West Coast, for Wines & Vines. This column is based on his personal experiences at winery tasting rooms and events.




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