Denbies Vineyard and Wine Estate

The largest vineyard in the UK, Denbies Wine Estates in Dorking, produces white, red, rose and sparkling wines. Denbies wines have won many awards, the most prestigious being the only gold medal awarded to an English sparkling wine at the International Wine Challenge.

The company has evolved into a major tourism attraction, with an average of 350,000 visitors a year enjoying the visitor centre, vineyard tours, wine tastings and restaurants. The company also operates conference and banqueting facilities, weddings and parties, a kitchen garden centre, a gift shop and even a B&B.

Lorraine Dyer, HR Manager, says ‘Across the many facets of our company, the need for quality customer service is a common thread. It is an absolutely vital element and it is clear that excellence in customer service is a crucial ingredient in our continued success.’

After carrying out a Training Needs Analysis, Lorraine identified customer service training as one of the most important priorities for the company.

‘Denbies Wine Estates has grown significantly in the past few years and we wanted to ensure that our customer service improved in line with the increase in visitor numbers ’ said Lorraine. ‘We wanted to inject a fresh approach and create a new culture that put customer service at its heart.’

Lorraine arranged for their key frontline and operational staff to be trained through Welcome to Excellence. 'We chose a combination of Welcome Host Plus and Welcome Line' says Lorraine.

‘These courses had to be pitched at just the right level for our needs’ she says. ‘It suited us to have the workshops in-house. The trainer was absolutely brilliant and she tailored the content to make it really relevant to our company and to cover exactly what we wanted. The feedback was great and the training was absolutely ideal for both our long serving members of staff and newer members.’

‘Motivation levels improved significantly and there was a new understanding of the importance of their role and a real desire to deliver world class service..

At the same time as introducing Welcome to Excellence, Denbies launched a monthly staff recognition award scheme and the introduction of name badges, which has enabled us to monitor closely the success of the training. In keeping with the ethos of the training, staff are encouraged to perform over and above the standard level of service. This scheme combined with the training has produced outstanding results. As we all know, if a visitor has a good customer experience, they are likely to tell ten people.’

‘Within a short period of time, we could measure the impact – not only through the new monitoring systems introduced but also through the impact on our sales figures.

Looking forward, Denbies plans to continue to put Welcome to Excellence training at the core of its customer service training. ‘Although we are doing well’ says Lorraine ‘we want to do even better. We want to take our customer service delivery to the next level and we are confident that Welcome to Excellence can help us achieve that.’

Lorraine concludes ‘Welcome to Excellence has made a significant impact, helping our company focus on delivering world class standards in customer service. This is making a tangible difference to our performance and our success. We have raised the bar and want to keep raising our standards still higher.’

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