A good first-time experience gives you a 40% chance the customer will come back. A good 2nd-time experience gives you a 42% chance. A good 3rd-time experience gives you a 70% chance the person will return.
Good customer service grows revenue. Bad customer service can put you out of business.
Especially in a digital age where online reviews are often the first thing people see about your business.
So in this post, we’ll talk about bar customer service and how to improve it using simple tweaks to your existing process.
By the time you finish reading, you’ll know what constitutes good customer service in a bar and how to introduce best practices inside your establishment.
Ready? Let’s go.
Understand the customer journey
Customer service often starts before someone walks in.
So prior to making big changes, it’s important to review the customer journey and the key points of contact.
If you accept reservations, your first point of contact might be over the phone, email or Facebook Messenger.
And in some situations, people might have seen the way you treat other customers on review platforms like Yelp and TripAdvisor.
If you want to craft a one-of-a-kind experience for your guests, keep the following stages in mind:
- Researching online, asking for recommendations, reading reviews.
- Making a reservation in person, via phone, your website, or social media.
- Greeting and seating customers once they arrive.
- Taking the order at the bar or table if you offer table service.
- Serving the order.
- Check-in to make sure everything is alright after the order is delivered.
- Refilling drinks.
- Delivering the check.
- Seeing customers out.
Now, let’s look into these stages in more detail.
Online reviews and feedback
If you’ve been in business for a while, you likely have a good base of online reviews on platforms like Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor.
These are great as a quick way to find gaps in your process. By reviewing your existing feedback, you can find some obvious issues based on patterns in customer complaints.
For example, you might notice multiple reviews about the same issue such as food, speed of service and so on.
On the other hand, you can also see your strongest points from a customer standpoint and try to highlight them in the future.
Overall, online reviews are a great place to start improving your bar customer service. If you need a quick way to start collecting feedback, check out this post.
A smooth booking
If you accept reservations, this is likely the first interaction the customer will have with you or a team member.
So how do you make the most of this opportunity to create a great impression?
There are 2 things to keep in mind:
1) The booking channel
2) The conversation
The booking channel is typically in-person, over the phone or online. In the ideal scenario, you will recreate the in-person interaction as much as possible through other channels too.
At a basic level, you will greet the customer, listen to their request, ask any clarification questions and confirm the reservation.
While this seems intuitive over the phone or in-person, your online channels may need some thought to make sure the booking goes smoothly.
For example, can customers leave all of the required details using an online form? Do you send a confirmation message/email following the booking? Have you documented a script people can use when accepting reservations via Facebook?
It’s a good practice to go through your online and offline booking process on a regular basis. This way, you can make sure things work well from a customer standpoint and refine any issues.
Now, the second part of the equation is the conversation.
This is where basics like smiling, knowing the menu and upselling are crucial for increasing revenue per table.
So as part of the booking process, it’s good to look for opportunities where you can upsell to a premium brand or give people more value for their money. This is especially valid if the booking is for a special event like a birthday or corporate gathering.
Greeting and seating customers
A quick greeting is one of the most important aspects of customer service. This means you must acknowledge the customer as soon as possible when they enter, ideally within 10 seconds.
If you have a host or hostess, that’s great. But even if you don’t, make sure your bartenders or servers at least make eye contact and say “hi” when they see a customer walk in.
A powerful technique here is knowing the names and favorite drinks of regular customers. So when they walk in, there’s a person greeting them by name and potentially having their favorite drink waiting for them.
This can go a long way towards improving the overall customer service in your bar.
Taking the order
If you offer table service, a member of your waiting staff should be at the customer table within 60 seconds of sitting down.
If everyone is busy, they should at least mention to the customer someone will be with them as soon as possible.
When taking the order, make sure your waiters and bartenders can explain specials and good food and drink combos – this is great for business but also improves the customer experience overall.
Noting down and repeating the order is also important if you want to reduce errors and complaints about missing items.
Delivering the order
Whether at the table or at the bar, you should aim to fulfill an order within 2 minutes of placing it.
This goes for the first order but also any refills, which we’ll get to a bit later.
Check-in after serving an order
As part of your regular process, it’s good to institute a check-in within 2 minutes of delivering an order.
So if there’s an issue with the order, you have a chance to respond quickly and solve the problem.
Offer regular refills
Refills, along with a quick greeting and delivering the check, make up to 40% of the overall customer experience.
So make sure your team is attentive and offers refills at the right time. This will show customers your staff is alert and increases the number of interactions you have with them. And this is a great way to leave a lasting positive impression.
Delivering the check
Notice a pattern here?
If there’s one thing people hate, it’s waiting so delivering the check within 60 seconds of the request is a great practice to instill.
Again, if it’s a busy night, your staff should at least mention the check is on its way if you can’t bring it within a minute or so.
This is also the best time to offer any discount coupons to encourage a repeat visit. You don’t need fancy flyers or online vouchers – even a handwritten note with a manager’s signature will do. This also creates a closer relationship compared to handing out full-color print outs.
Seeing customers out
Lastly, it’s time to complete the customer experience by seeing customers out.
Similarly to the greeting, there should always be someone to at least say “Thanks” as people are leaving your bar.
This solidifies an overall great customer service and leaves people with a nice feeling as they walk out.
A word on handling complaints
No matter what you do, there will always be unhappy customers. So you can’t escape from complaints but you can do a lot to reduce them or change a bad experience into a good one.
For every complaint you receive, make sure you and your staff stay calm and accept the customer’s point of view.
Active listening and paraphrasing what the customer says are key here, showing you understand their frustration and are willing to help resolve their issue.
So how do you make all this happen?
The first stage is having a documented process in place. You can use this article as a basis or amend the points to fit your own establishment.
Next, it’s time to train your team on these best practices and implement them one step at a time. Also, consider sending your staff to competing venues and look for good practices to implement and bad ones to avoid. This will help improve morale and produce more ideas for your own operations.
Once everyone is clear on what needs to be done and have some experience with your new process, you will need to monitor and review customer service to ensure compliance.
This can be done manually but there are automatic solutions like Glimpse that can help you monitor employee performance across multiple locations, 24/7. You can learn more about Glimpse here.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when designing your customer experience and providing great service.
The important thing is to have a solid process based on the customer journey. This makes it easier to audit and improve your bar customer service over time.
Starting with your online reviews and feedback, you should have documented principles for dealing with customers along every stage of their journey. From then on, good service is mostly about empathy, speed and attentiveness from your whole staff – so building that team spirit should be a top priority in your bar management style if you want to deliver outstanding customer service.
Once you’re happy with your set of best practices, it’s time to train your staff and gradually implement any changes. This will put you ahead of the curve when it comes to customer service and boost your revenue in the long run.
Glimpse provides an innovative loss prevention technology that will help increase the financial profitability of your restaurant or bar. Our unique software captures drink movement across the bar counters through video cameras and matches all sales to the POS data. Based on this, we generate reports that show how many drinks were properly recorded at the POS versus those ‘at risk’ (rung up late) or lost altogether (never rung up).
Are You Confident Every Drink is Accounted For in Your Bar?
Glimpse provides an innovative loss prevention technology that will help increase the financial profitability of your restaurant or bar. Our unique software captures drink movement across the bar counters through video cameras and matches all sales to the POS data. Based on this, we generate reports that show how many drinks were properly recorded at the POS versus those ‘at risk’ (rung up late) or lost altogether (never rung up).Learn more