The Grapevine

Dealing with Wine Shop Clients from Hell

January 9th, 2018

We’ve all had client experience we’d rather not repeat, and even clients we’d prefer never to see again, but there really isn’t a way to keep those folks from walking into your shop or even knowing when a seemingly benign interaction will go bad. There are some things you can do to keep from losing your mind. [level-members]

This all comes to mind after reading a recent article about sommeliers worst – and most laughable – moments of customer interaction. Clients can be boors, and like restaurant workers, you don’t always have a choice of who you are serving.

About the best piece of advice we can offer is that, “this too shall pass,” makes for a nice, calming mantra. Repeat it – over and over and over – as you deal with the impossible.

Three other thoughts we’ve gathered over the years:

Mollify – or Don’t
With some experience you’ll get a sense of how far to bend over backwards. This will depend on the person you’re dealing with, who else is in the shop, and your mood. It doesn’t make sense to escalate – ever – but the level of obsequiousness and accommodation you exhibit can, and should, vary based on the conditions.

Everyone’s a Critic
If you’re ever tempted to ignore the advice above about never escalating, remember that Yelp is only a click away. As is Facebook, and Twitter, and maybe even YouTube if your crazy is particularly enterprising. It’s just not worth it.

Except …
There is one exception to the “never escalate” rule. If the target of your crazy’s tantrum is not you but an employee, give your employee the space he or she needs to deal with the situation. If the customer escalates, step in immediately, even if that escalates the situation. Support your employees unconditionally. There’s simply no other way to run a business.

So, would you rather deal with the occasional crazy as a wine shop owner or a sommelier? [/level-members]