Surveys: A simple but effective tool

By: Dr. Kathy Kelley

Improvements or alterations you make to your tasting room experience should include customers’ thoughts and feelings. This process should include taking with tasting room visitors and developing a survey to capture customer responses that you can refer to from time to time. If you have a mailing list or wine club, involve these customers and include some questions on the wine club enrollment form as a way to learn about new members’ interests and preferences.

Collecting survey responses via the Internet is another option. Post questions on your website, on Facebook, and use one of the free online programs to design a simple survey and collect a limited number of responses. SurveyMonkey.com, for example, will allow you to develop surveys with a maximum of 10 questions and collect responses from 100 individuals, while responses from 50 individuals can be collected using SurveyGuizmo.com. If asking more questions or obtaining more responses is desired, both programs offer monthly subscriptions and SurveyMonkey.com offers an annual subscription. Paid subscriptions offer benefits ranging from being able to customize the look of the survey to redirect participants to your website after they complete the survey, as well as technical phone support and analytical assistance.

Example Survey Questions for Tasting Room Visitors

Example Survey Questions for Tasting Room Visitors

What do you want to learn from your customers?

Regardless of the method used to collect responses, a key to a successful survey is to focus on two to three objectives and design questions that are clear and that the survey can be completed in a reasonable amount of time. Pretest the survey with a select group of wine consumers and include questions asking them if any questions were confusing (and, if so, what information is needed to correctly answer the question) and if they felt that the survey “took to long to complete,” “was just about right,” or “too short.” If the number of questions you want to ask exceeds participants’ tolerance you can always ask them in a future survey.

Consider some of these questions and add to the list as you begin the process of designing a survey.

  1. Why are you visiting the tasting room? Is it to learn about how to select wine, to look at the facilities for a future event, to buy wine for a gift? Responses can help you make the decision whether to offer “wine tasting 101” classes, host events and private functions (if space allows), or up sell from individual bottles of wine to gift baskets and certificates.
  2. How often do you visit our tasting room? Responses could identify potential wine club members, if events should be offered to encourage more frequent visits, or if there is a group of customers who should be rewarded for their tasting room patronage.
  3. What restaurants in the area do you regularly visit? What events and activities do you participate and how do you learn about these events? Responses could be used to identify viable outlets for your wine and festivals or celebrations where you could have a presence. Asking customers how they learn about these events and activities can help discover avenues through which to promote the winery.
  4. What other businesses are you visiting while in the area? Answer to this question can help identify businesses with whom you can cross-promote, which could further build your customer base.

Surveys can also help determine potential demand for new tasting room products, identify tasting room and employee related problems, and provide direction for future efforts. If once active customers have become inactive, send them a survey along with a “we miss you, please visit again” coupon and ask why they are no longer purchasing or are purchasing less frequently from you.

Encouraging participation

It will be necessary to remind consumers about the survey and that their participation will help you make their tasting room experience that much richer. In most cases, relying solely on a consumer’s interest in your business to motivate them to respond to your questions is not realistic. Even when you ask a consumer to answer questions during their tasting room visit you are competing against another activity for their valuable time. To encourage participation offer an incentive. Offer free tastings, discounts on merchandise and wine, or access to an exclusive winery tour and barrel tasting. Give some thought as to what your tasting room visitors would appreciate and what you could realistically offer based what the incentive will “cost” you.

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