I had an interesting experience this weekend that reminded me that sometimes brand experience is as much about the messenger as the message.
Have a Glass of Wine
House guests in tow, we took advantage of a break in the weekend’s storm and went wine-tasting. El Dorado County is an up and comer, with some very fine wines coming out of some very off-the-beaten path locations, so we sought out a small, well-respected winery at the end of a mountain road.
Instead of being greeted when we walked in the door, the person behind the tasting bar (we’ll call her “Ms. X”) looked at us and said almost churlishly, “There are 15 wines, what do you want?” Huh? With such (a lack of) welcome, we almost turned and walked out, but we’d driven somewhat far and the wines have a good reputation, so we stayed.
You’ve Got To Be Kidding
Instead of telling us about the wines as we tasted, Ms. X poured in bored silence. We had to start the conversation – talking about the storm and the low elevation snow that might shut things down.
Having a wine pourer make the statement “All I need is cigarettes and beer, and I’m happy. And I can walk to the store, if I can’t drive.” was incredibly shocking. Hello? Appropriateness? You’re pouring WINE. You should be talking about the wine! If you’re partial to beer and cigarettes, keep it to yourself.
Ms. X indicated through conversation that she’d worked there for a while and I wondered whether the winemaker has a clue that she is making his business look bad and costing him money? It’s a common understanding that being hospitable translates into bigger sales, particularly in a face-to-face business. We couldn’t wait to get out of there.
This all made me think of how easy it is for a business to shoot itself in the foot. We think someone working for us is on the same page, so we don’t go over specifics about how we want them to behave with customers, or we think visitors to our website are on the same page, so we don’t make sure to make the experience THEIRS, not ours.
Ms. X really didn’t care if we were there or not. Our experience seemed irrelevant to her. I’m thinking of calling the winery this week and talking to the winemaker. His wines are pretty good; this is something he needs to know.