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Bar Customer Service

Make Sure Your Bar Customers are Served Well

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Anybody who works in any customer service position is a caregiver. Wait staff and bartenders are no exceptions.

Good customer service includes how employees interact with customers when things are going well, as well as how employees handle difficult situations. The best employees develop customer service relationships with bar guests who feel at home while visiting the bar and having a couple of drinks or a fun night out.

Customer Service in Good Times

Bar employees are the hosts, entertainers, and business representatives of your bar. They are the face of the establishment, and how they behave sets the mood for your guests.
  • Make sure employees always smile and greet people warmly when they arrive. Encourage them to be genuine.
  • If the bartender is busy and cannot help them right away, make sure that he or she knows to let the customers know that they'll be waited on right away.
  • Encourage bar employees to learn the names of your regular customers, what they usually order, and where they prefer to sit.
  • Pay attention to customer needs. Some come to the bar to chat and be social; others want to engage their companion in conversation. Employees who can "read" their customers give the best service.

Conflict Resolution in Bars

Part of working with the public is handling customer complaints. Some complaints are legitimate, others may seem less so. Good personal boundaries and conflict resolution skills are necessary for good customer service.
  • Actively listen. When a customer complains, listen—do not multitask, just look the person in the eye and really hear what they are saying.
  • Remain calm and neutral about the situation.
  • When the customer is finished speaking, paraphrase what you heard. For example, "I understand you waited a long time before your food arrived."
  • Be as sympathetic as reasonably possible.
  • Make good on a complaint when it makes sense to do so. For example, a customer should not be charged for food or drink sent back because it was inedible, but a customer who finishes his plate of food and wants a refund should not be accommodated.

Customer Service in Bad Times

The worst of times in any bar is when a customer becomes too inebriated and must be told "No" by the employees. It is the responsibility of bar and restaurant employees to monitor their customers' intake and behavior. If you serve alcohol, you will have occasion to cut people off.

Remember that you control how you behave—you do not control how other people behave, so don't try. Also, as a person becomes drunk, the cognitive functioning becomes temporarily impaired. Therefore, their behavior may seem out of control.

Let your colleagues know you need to cut off a customer and be polite but firm. "I'm sorry, but I cannot serve you another beer." Be respectful and look the person in the eye, keep your voice low, and use a nice tone of voice. Make sure to avoid sounding defensive or judgmental and be willing to explain, but do not budge your position. "I'm sorry; we cannot serve you more this evening. You have already had five drinks. I would be happy to serve you food or a non-alcoholic beverage." Finally, be ready to call the police if the customer becomes belligerent or tries to drive and, if appropriate, make sure to call other establishments in the area to warn them.

Written by: Beth Taylor