5 lessons from customer-funded retailer Naked Wines

4th Apr 2016

Naked Wines works with more than 130 independent winemakers from 13 countries and ships about 25,000 bottles of wine a day to around 225,000 customers. Known as ‘Angels’, these consumers invest £20 a month, which is distributed among independent winemakers who then produce exclusive wines at wholesale prices. 

As a customer-funded wine retailer, Naked Wines must ensure customer satisfaction is guaranteed. Here are five mindsets that the company has adopted to help it deliver this:

1. Prioritise the customer

“Customer service is critical to our business model,” says Managing Director Eamon FitzGerald. “Our winemakers are only in business because of customer support. So our customers mean everything to us and we must deliver an impeccable service. It’s about putting things right if they do go wrong and keeping our customers and our winemakers happy.”

2. See punters as partners

“Our customers support winemakers in return for preferential prices,” says FitzGerald. “They pay £20 a month into an online account, but this isn’t a fee or a charge; we take that money and invest it in small independent winemakers. This financing frees them up to concentrate on making delicious wines. As an Angel, customers get exclusive access to some high-quality wines at a favourable price. But if customers change their minds, they get their money back.”

3. Ask for feedback

“Through calls and emails, we ask customers to provide feedback on the service they receive,” says FitzGerald. “That determines how well our ‘customer happy teams’ – the name given to the call centre – are doing. We don’t measure them on sales; it’s purely on how well they are dealing with customers and the level of satisfaction they are achieving.”

4. Get staff behind you

The quality of the people it engages is central to Naked Wines’ continuing success, as FitzGerald explains. “We sell wine in order to support smaller independent winemakers, in exchange for lower prices,” he explains. “I believe this is a noble and ethical way of doing business and getting our staff to buy into this is important.” 

To keep staff engaged, Naked Wines flies them out to various locations to experience the flavours and sensations of the vineyards it works with, and brings in local businesses to cook a meal for the team once a month, which is matched with perfect wines. The business also arranges wine classes to help the team learn about the wines it sells. 

5. Be responsive

The immediacy and constancy of the online world helps Naked Wines accumulate instant and frequent insight into customer priorities, which is invaluable to the company, as FitzGerald confirms. “Whether it’s a wine they rate highly or don’t like, we can tell our customers’ preferences pretty quickly from all the data we receive.” 

Customers are increasingly more demanding and switched on, FitzGerald explains, and companies owe it to themselves – and consumers – to tap into this. “They asked us for more English wines so we set that up,” he says. “They asked for a mobile app, so we delivered that for free to help them get more out of being an Angel. There’s real pressure on us to keep on top of our game.’”

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