The Grapevine

Retail Wine Business: Is the Customer Always Right?

September 15th, 2015

That’s how the old saying goes: the customer is always right. But is that really the case? [level-members]

Yes and no. Certainly, you have to train your staff – and yourself – to recognize that the customer is always first. Yes, you can stop typing mid-text, and you should. Same for personal phone calls of all but the most urgent nature. (Health care relating to yourself or your loved ones comes to mind.) And if you’re on the phone with another customer, at least acknowledge the customer who has just walked in the door.

But it’s your shop, and you should fee free to respectfully disagree when someone tells you you aren’t stocking the right wines or that such and such a wine is bad. There’s no reason to be nasty, but if you make it clear what you stand for – and what you stand against – the story your disagreeable customer is likely to be telling anyone who will listen goes from, “that shop sells bad wine” to perhaps something along the lines of, “that shop owner thinks my favorite wine isn’t good enough for his shop because there are better values at the same price.”

That’s not going to convince everyone that you’re principled in your selections and stocking, but it does change the conversation away from what is or is not good wine to what makes yours a good wine shop: selling products you believe in.

So don’t cave to overbearing customers. No need to be rude, but if you can establish your own passions and beliefs, you may even win over some of these holdouts.