Holy cow…wine.com!

Remember when I complained about wine.com not answering my e-mail from their wine buyer page? Well, they apologized...in writing. And they sent me some lovely wines. Margaret, who is an Account Manager in their "Business Gifting" group found my blog post while searching "wine.com". Why aren't all companies doing this? The searching and responding, that is.

I actually got her letter before I received the box and would have been satisfied just by the letter itself (seems some technical difficulties were the culprit, which she is looking into).  This is probably fodder for another post on the balance between "why" the customer is unsatisfied and the simple fact that they ARE unsatisfied (or as Jeff Hunter puts it, whether the company wants to be rich or right). Regardless, the gift was very generous (and it was obvious that they looked at some of my back orders to see what I like) and appreciated (and will be enjoyed just as soon as I get off phase one of South Beach...grrr).

I'm not suggesting that all companies send free stuff to people who complain. It is really up to them to decide how to handle complaints. Usually, just fixing the problem (and letting the customer know) will satisfy the complainer and turn a "boo!" into a "yay!".

I can't help but think about the role blogging plays in all of this. The virtual megaphone shouldn't be ignored by companies and for the consumer, it allows a certain amount of power (because "the customer is always right" doesn't exist in a vacuum); a voice. In all of my thinking about how companies treat customers, it's easy to focus on what companies do wrong. I'll try to focus more on companies that are doing it right and/or fix what's wrong. Every so often, I am delighted by a shopping experience and I should talk about that (there's a blog post about my lawn fertilizer guys in there somewhere). I've done a little of that but I can do more. I don't want to get into the business of expecting free stuff (and I don't) just because my blog allows me to complain louder than some other customers. At the same time, I have such an appreciation for companies that understand customer care and are proactive about it (no gift required). Anyway, wine.com:

For the letter...well done!

For the wine...thanks (and don't worry, I'll be back)!

For searching on wine.com to find out what people are saying about you...very, very smart!

Comments (10)

  1. Andy says:

    That was super cool of them! I would definitely order from a company that takes care of customers like that.

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    by the way, I sent them a copy of my original mail that didn’t receive a response and they are trying to figure out what happened. In the meantime (well, next week), I’ll be enjoying some nice Pinot.

  3. Wine-Oh says:

    Wow! Now thats customer service. Enjoy the wine.

  4. C. E. Reid says:

    <b>2 great stories in 1</b>

    You’re right about people being more apt to write a complaint, then a thank you, with customer service issues. As a business owner, I try to look out for those rare  positive experiences in customer service. Then I write a letter to the company President and send a copy to person who provided the excellent service.

    The 2nd part of your story on the power of blogging is an under statment.  Blogging not only pumps up the volume for the everyday person’s voice, it’s a powerful tool for moving mountains.

    I’m linking to your blog from 2 of my blogs.


    <b><a href="http://resumetutor.blogspot.com">SirReiid</a></b&gt;

  5. Great to see that companies are trying.  Wine.com just got a new customer!!

  6. David Fisher says:

    While I applaud the company’s efforts to reach out,I find it disturbing that this is the mechanism for reaching a higher level of service. In this context the blog becomes a bonfire in the street outside the headquarters.

    Isn’t it just easier and more civilized to simply listen to and solicit commentary from customers, or in this case to just provide a mechanism for providing help and service to the customer? This is just basic customer focus 101. I think it’s sad that there is a need to resort to trolling through the Internet to find commentary, rather than just talking to one’s customers directly.

  7. Dennis says:

    Excellent post Heather.  More companies should be following in the footsteps of Wine.com

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    David-I think you need to do both. Companies can’t control what will be said about them via blogs (or any conversation for that matter). It’s a democratizing medium. They have a choice whether to seek to find what people are blogging about them or not. I think of it as free market research, in a way. I mean, you can’t search verbal conversations. In this way, I see searching blogs as an *opportunity*. But of course, companies should use more traditional market research in the appropriate context. In my case with wine.com, it was a customer focused alias that broke. So I see good intent, but the execution was flawed, for whatever reason. I think that if you ask most companies whether they would try to save a customer (or customers), by addressing a simple problem, they would do it. Unfortunately, not enough companies are blog-savvy enough to understand the opportunity or take it seriosuly.

    In my own experience that I blogged about, I would have thought twice about returning to wine.com. I have convenient alternatives (both of which I blogged about). But the fact that wine.com responded to me (which would not have happened had they not found my blog) makes me feel valued as a customer. Frankly, it makes me want to buy from them.

    I just read an article on this in Marketing News yesterday and they said something like "ignore blogs at your own peril" (speaking to companies). But I don’t think there was any mention of foregoing traditional customer research/engagement models. So basically, in the world we live in right now, it’s another source of info for companies and another medium that they need to understand to participate in the grassroots brand-making that happens online. It can happen with them or without them. My thinking was always that if someone was going to talk about my brand (marketing careers at Microsoft, in my case), I wanted to be part of the conversation.

  9. Marty says:

    Looking for White Table Wine….and that is what it is called. 2 weeks ago i purchased a bottle at Cost Co and now they have deleted it from their inventory.

    I know it was from the Columbia Valley…..

    Please someone let me know@ marty@windermere.com

  10. HeatherLeigh says:

    I’m not a fan of table wine, but there’s a good one at Costco that they usually have called Conundrum. Not sure if that helps.

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