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  February 2, 2017
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WISE Bites   Tasting Room Forum
Ring, Ring. Who’s There?   Strategizing for the year ahead

Caller Communication Styles

Every customer is different in their relationship with us—and in their relationship with wine. But most importantly, each one is also different in terms of their own behavior and communication styles, irrespective of us. We get lots of visual clues about this when customers are across the bar from us in our tasting rooms, but how do we figure this out when they call us on the phone?

We all know the Golden Rule: Treat others as we want to be treated. At WISE, we believe in the Platinum Rule: Treat our customers the way they want to be treated. That means that we need to quickly assess each customer during the first moments of the phone call. Here are the most common kinds of communication styles we encounter and how best to turn them into fans.

The Assertive Customer

How do we recognize these guys? They are totally focused on results. They usually talk fast, get to the point and demand action, spending little time on socializing. How do we manage them? If our voice is soft, we’ll need to raise it slightly and pick up the pace. Stay focused on facts and results. Be brief and to the point. Do not ramble.


January and February are always tough months in tasting rooms, but this is when you should plan for the upcoming year: Change what did not work, continue/enhance what did work, look at new opportunities driven by economic/customer changes, etc. The Unified Wine & Grape Symposium held Jan. 24-26 in Sacramento, Calif., is a forum to see what’s new in the production of wine and business management. More than 650 exhibitors, 14,000 attendees and dozens of seminars keep wine industry pros busy for three days, but the main benefit is the positive attitude and camaraderie of the people working in our industry. Many exhibitors were presenting new software applications for the DtC market, and you always stand to gain by learning about new tools to enhance your business. This article published by Wines & Vines reflects the ambience of the 2017 conference and trade show.

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The good news is Assertive Customers make up their minds quickly and generally don’t need a lot of details to make a decision. They don’t waste your time. They get down to business. We can be direct, and it won’t bother them.

Don’t be offended by their lack of rapport. They are focused on business, not the relationship. If they seem angry or borderline rude, don’t take it personally. It’s not about us, it’s just their style. We need to keep our own assertiveness level just below the customer’s, because matching or exceeding it will turn into a competition that never works out well for anyone.

The Angry Customer

This is less a style than a state. Angry customers are emotional, so we need to be calm. Think of the 911 operator using a confident, calm voice during a crisis call, assuring you that help is on the way while getting the facts to make sure the problem is understood. The best way to deal with the angry customer is to resolve the issue as quickly and effectively as possible in a calm, cool and collected way.

The Amiable Customer

These customers are friendly and easy to get along with. They are interested in us, cooperative, understanding and not likely to complain.

How do we treat these guys? Be friendly and social. If we are assertive or impatient, we need to rein it in. Let them talk.

Keep pace of conversation unhurried. Use “us” and “we” words: “I am sure we can get this right. Why don’t we do this?” Try to keep the conversation on track while ensuring that the caller’s needs are met.

Amiable Customers are fun to work with, but it can be hard to know what they really think, so we need to ask. Confirm their satisfaction and don't take them for granted.

The Expressive Customer

These folks want to be engaged. They want to lead or participate in stimulating discussions. They are talkative and good story tellers. They like an audience, and they want us to listen. How do we manage this group? Share their enthusiasm, but ask closed-ended questions. Provide little space between points so they can’t interrupt. Keep the conversation focused and get to the point.

These customers are enjoyable, decisive, fun and easy to talk to, but they need to be managed carefully, or they can take up a lot of our time. They can become assertive if their needs are not met.

The Analytical Customer

This group is detail-oriented and likes to work with facts and figures. They need lots of information to make a decision and don’t want to be rushed. They may seem unfriendly or uncaring, but they are really just quiet.

The best way to work with these customers is to provide them with a lot of information. Explain details when necessary. Don’t rush them, be patient. If you tend to talk fast, slow down and provide time for them to think. Avoid social conversation.

They are good listeners and they want to be accurate. They think before speaking and want to hear your explanations. They won’t waste our time. Don’t be offended if there isn’t a chance to connect socially. That’s just not their thing.

It’s definitely worth our time to find out exactly who is on the other end of the phone, so that we can treat them the way they want to be treated. That’s the road to creating more raving fans for our brand.

Source: WISE Academy,




Key performance indicators: If you worked in the corporate world in the 1980s, you probably remember Peter Drucker’s teaching. The business-management guru once stated, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” This article discusses key performance indicators (KPIs) and how they can be of use to the wine industry.

Snapchat: Interaction between wineries and consumers has taken many paths during the past 10 years. This article by Dr. Rebecca Dolan from the University of Auckland details how to use Snapchat for your winery’s branding.

Cost-conscious millennials looking for blends: This article based on the report by Silicon Valley Bank takes a look at restaurant wine consumption.

Do you know your soil?: This article unveils the affinity many consumers have for the terroir of wine. Terroir (a complex set of vine-growing influencers like rootstock, varietal, sun, climate, trellis, irrigation, photosynthesis, etc.) includes the very important earth component of every wine (terroir is from the French word terre, or the Earth/soil). And if you are not doing so yet, you may want to include the “soil history” of your vineyards in your sales pitch.

December 2016 Metrics: DtC shipments rose 18% in 2016. Read more here. The Winery Job Index is up 7% for 2016 details here. Total U.S. wine sales were up 6% again in December, and we are now at $40 billion. Read more at

San Francisco Wine School: The large distributor Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits is partnering with the San Francisco Wine School for corporate wine education. Read more about it here.

Eastern U.S.: The largest wine industry trade show in eastern North America is taking place March 22-24 in Syracuse, N.Y. Attendees stand to gain a lot of insight by participating and exchanging winning strategies and ideas. Check out the schedule here.


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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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