Whisky Santa

What a year it’s been. It’s always nice to have a bit of an old roundup at about this time – so here we go!

First up, we must acknowledge a huge failure on our part. During December we had what we can only call a catastrophic security compromise. We detected it in early December and worked hard all month to identify the perpetrator and bring the security compromise to a halt, but were unable to remove the threat until Christmas Day. Even then, we were unable to stop the perpetrator – he stopped of his own volition, almost as if he lost interest or had better things to do. #WhiskySanta has a lot to answer for.

Not only did he somehow highjack our social media channels in the same way as in 2014, but he also hacked into our checkout and dished out prizes of all sorts, willy nilly – costing us over £25K in the process. We’ll be on guard for you next year Whisky Santa. As the old saying goes – “Fool me once, shame on… Shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.”

Top Gun Johnson's Coffee

Goddammit – that’s twice!

Working backwards through the year – all this stuff happened too:

We were named Highland and Grain Indie Bottler of the Year! This makes us extremely proud, because we like to make the lives of our customers better in every way we can, and this includes the liquid that we can make available under our own brand.

We kicked shipping in the nuts (or at least we grazed them. Either way, it still stings). As above, we want to make our customers lives better – and that includes a campaign to eradicate the pestilence that is shipping.

We took it even further with Drinks by the Dram’s advent calendars. For the first time ever, our fancy interface allowed customers to spec their own contents for a spirit-filled advent calendar. Very cool.

We improved our website. Coding from scratch (the only way we’ve found to deliver the kind of features we think our customers deserve) we updated our website so that it is as handsome and easy to use on a mobile as it is on a desktop.

You settled the Battle of the Blends. The people spoke. Ridley won.

We sorted out US shipping. It was all a bit of a mess, so we made it clearer and cheaper.

That rotter, Whisky Santa, picked up some sort of trophy. He must be stopped.

We fixed gift vouchers. Now they don’t expire, and they bear interest. Much better.

We witnessed the flight of the bumblebee. And it was a thing of beauty…

We introduced glass closures to whisky. Why should the ‘wine people’ get all the cool stuff?

Charity Bee Run

…a thing of beauty.

All that’s lovely, and it makes us feel warm and fuzzy. What really gets us out of bed in the morning, though, is the wonderful feedback we get, particularly when it comes to our service.

These heroes tend to go rather unsung, so having this feedback from the people that mean the most to them – the customers – is wonderful. In the last year they’ve gone 24hr and have fixed it so that we can offer next-day delivery right up until 9pm – all in the name of exceeding expectations.

You may have noticed “#goodenoughisnt” cropping up in various blogs, emails and social media over the last couple of months. How very cryptic. Whassat all about then?

The phrase “Good enough, isn’t…” has long been a part of MoM culture. We use it as a means to challenge ourselves to do better than ‘good enough’ for the sake of our customers and for the sake of our pride. Some examples (using the power of imaginary dialogue):

– “9-5 customer service is good enough isn’t it?”
– “Get in the sea.”

– “5pm cut-off for next day delivery seems fine to me.”
– “I’ll drive you to the coast if you want.”

– “Basic cardboard packaging is much cheaper than those fancy airpacks, even taking into account breakages. So what if a few extra deliveries get smashed?”
– “I’ll use basic cardboard packaging to deliver you to the bottom of the sea.”

– “If we sit on this stock instead of selling it on straight away, it will be worth *so* much more in a year’s time.”
– “I’ve got something you can sit on. It’s the bottom of the sea.”

– “We can make our products cheaper by increasing our delivery charges – by the time they see how expensive the overall delivered price is it will be too late.” – “I’ll deliver you into the sea.”

– “Replying to customer emails within 2 working days is acceptable.”
– “You’ll find it hard to reply to any emails from the bottom of the sea.”

– “If our vouchers expire, then we get a load of money for free! Everyone else does it…
– “‘Everyone else’ can get in the sea too then.”

Master of Malt Gift Vouchers

Much better.

Before straying too far into being sanctimonious about all this, we recognise that we’ve still got an awful lot of work to do. There are some aspects of our service which make us feel like we ought to get in the sea ourselves – or at least have a paddle in a tributary. There are some things that are not yet ‘good enough’ – but we’ll continue trying until all the nonsense is stamped out.

Like any enterprise we have constraints (human, technical, financial, etc…) within which we need to operate, and we need to use our resources carefully and intelligently to make sure that we get the greatest bang (customer-delighting additions to our service) for our buck. That means we often have to swallow a little sadness in the name of the greater good and put our effort behind projects which will make a huge difference to our customers instead of several smaller projects which will have a lesser cumulative impact.

We continue to fight the good fight, and we have a room full of very some very clever chaps beavering away at a wicked-long list of features and benefits that we hope will delight you. So, watch this space for more #goodenoughisnt…

If we are delighting you, then please tell the world. You can do this by adding a review to our site at the end of the checkout, leaving a review in Trust Pilot, hopping on social media to spread the news, or marching up and down the street wearing a sandwich board proclaiming “I love Master of Malt” (‘some sort of prize’ goes to anyone that actually does this, BTW).

If you’re currently stewing with rage as you read this, wondering how on earth we have the cajones to make these lofty claims when we’re so deficient in certain ways then, likewise, do tell. You can email [email protected] to give us a good telling off, call us up on 0800 5200 474 (see here for international numbers), or use any of the other channels mentioned above.

In particular, we want to know how we’re doing in five important ways. These five points make up our internal checklist to make sure that we sticking to our aim of building the sort of business we ourselves would want to use:

1. Are we being productive enough? Are we wasting our time on vanity projects rather than focussing on projects that really add value for our customers?

2. Do we give a shit? Do we go further than simply answering your customer service questions – are we delighting you?

3. Are we striving for beauty? Does what we do have that little extra polish and attention to detail (including usability) that make our services a delight to engage with?

4. Do we have integrity? Have we ever fobbed you off? Do we ever do anything you consider cynical? Are we pretending to be something we’re not?

5. Do we defy convention? Do we push the boundaries of what you would expect from a spirits retailer?

Crikey. Didn’t that sound an awful lot like a mission-statement. Anyone got a stone tablet and a chisel handy?


The Chaps at Master of Malt