I started working at Chatterbox in 2018 with a retail sales background and basic wine knowledge. I had never heard of telesales in general or Chatterbox specifically, but I was stoked when I got the call that I got the job! I wanted to dip my toes into the Wine Industry, and this was definitely the perfect place for me. Even if I wanted to be shy and hesitant, my new coworkers were enthusiastic in welcoming me to the family.
Training always emphasizes that sales techniques should be taken in and made your own and building relationships with the customers is key. I would sit in my cubicle the first week reading the training manual and listening to the conversations around me, snipping off phrases here or there that I loved. I read recently that if you zoom into a person, you will see little pieces of everyone they have ever met just haphazardly stuck together, and everyone here has pieces of each other that come out in our calls with the customers. It’s been tough for a lot of people during this pandemic, and I find that a lot of customers, even if they do not purchase, appreciate a conversation with a friendly voice during these times.
It’s been so fun to be with this company as it grew and adapted over time. Each new brand was an exciting opportunity to sponge up more wine knowledge. We would do in office tastings a few times a month to branch out with different varietals, or to delve into topics like “Seasonally Sensitive” or “Wine Pairings”. We are encouraged to pursue education, even if it meant a news article, blog post, or short YouTube video every few days, and it was exciting to celebrate my WSET Level 2 certification with people who understand what those letters mean. Education has helped me build relationships with customers because I’m always excited to explain why they should get a specific vintage or what makes a particular vineyard so special. There will always be those customers that know what they want and the call is short and sweet, but I’ve had the best conversations with customers who are curious and open to learning more about the wines they enjoy.
The pandemic came so fast that we heard about it one week and were fully set up in our homes the next, minus a few snacks that got left behind when we thought we would be back “in two weeks” (RIP to those poor jellybeans). As someone who works best surrounded by people, and someone who loves to ask a million questions, I am so thankful that the collaboration levels have not changed since we’ve been home. We have bi-monthly meetings with our full staff along with bi-monthly individual check-ins with management and weekly campaign check ins. Along with those we still have fun incentives like raffles, Trivia Tuesdays, monthly training sessions on wine topics, and everyone is just a quick message or phone call away. We still get to safely visit properties before beginning new campaigns, so nothing much has changed during quarantine other than the view from my desk and my dogs at my feet.
I think my favorite thing about working here are the customers that I get to build real relationships with, as cheesy as that sounds. Brands that work multiple campaigns with us get assigned to the same reps whenever possible, and I look forward to calling people every Fall vintage release and seeing how their grandkids are doing, or how their piano playing is coming along. Customers will respond to our emails sometimes with dog pictures or pictures of the wine and food pairings they do at home. One of my coworkers even got a full music video from a customer that she’s been helping for over a year. Wine is social and fun; I love reminiscing with customers about previous trips to Wine Country and helping them relive it with the call (and sending out some of their favorite wine from the visit). Recently I moved to Customer Service, and it’s nice to be the contact that the customer can trust to always help them out. It’s been a couple months and I already have a list of customers who will call me just to ask about tasting notes for a wine they want to open up that night.
It’s a point of pride for me to be a part of this company that has grown so much. The communication is unlike any team I’ve been a part of, between people who have been here for years and people who are new members of the family. If something were to come up, I trust that management will work with me to get through it, like my knee surgery last year. I consider everyone friends as well as colleagues and loving what I do every day helps me spread a bit of the Napa Valley (and beyond!) magic to my customers.