August 27, 2016

In the two and half years of working with my current team at Café vin Cinq, we have helped nurture and encourage what we consider to be best practise, and that’s what I want to discuss.

I am by no means saying we always get things right; some of the best advice I got in this industry was ‘those who don’t make mistakes, don’t make anything’.

Generally speaking, I think we have gone from strength to strength and there are a few reasons for this.

Group focus, team work, quality product and a strong background of team support have all played their parts, however our continued success at least in main part, comes from our customer focus.

We are a multi award winning restaurant especially in customer service and I’d like to share with you why.

Customer Service In A Bar

Success - A Case Study In Customer Service

The first thing you need to do is listen. It’s a surprisingly hard skill to master in the industry as we all think we know best. Like any business, customer needs to move with the times.

Food tastes come and go, drinking habits change with the wind, flavours are seasonal. These are ever-changing and if you are not listening to the comments and observing the spending habits, you are missing vital information.

It is very easy to answer a question or comment; it’s much harder to let the customer finish and absorb the information. Stale is never good in the industry.

We are in constant review of our menus. Our bar team in particularly are encouraged to follow the wider industry.

What drinks are fashionable? What drinks are being referenced in entertainment shows? What is social media doing and how are people reacting to it?

This is a wealth of information, and the bar that stays ahead is the one everyone is going to first.

Stay focused. It’s easy to consider a path to the optimum direction, but harder to keep going when distracted.

The customer is always right they say, well, sorry, but we all know that’s not true. When a large percentage tell you they want something, you should consider this as a good starting point, but not necessarily the correct way for you.

Listen to everyone. One person may have the right idea, where five may not because the majority isn’t always right.

You may consider this contradicts my first statements, but what I’m saying is, everyone needs to be listened to, mulled over and reacted to – one way or another.

Things Every Bartender Should Do

Success - A Case Study In Customer Service

Admit your faults.

We make mistakes, we are human and we always try our best. But systems fail, information gets lost and people forget things. Firstly, admit your mistake; blame is never good.

No-one cares what happened elsewhere that could have created the issue, they just want you to acknowledge the fault and deal with it. Attempting to pass the buck makes people feel you don’t care.

Sincere apologies always placate an angry person. Sympathise, but never patronise.

  • Keep calm in the face of anger. Raising your voice to match an angry person only serves to raise the temperature of the debate.

Usually if there is anger, there is a reason (whether actually justified or not in the end) and anger is an emotion. It is hard to control. Bringing the complaint ‘down’ and to a calm discussion will help you resolve the problem so much quicker.

  • Word of mouth. It’s no surprise that the best reviews come from happy customers.

While the easiest way to ensure your customers are leaving positive reviews is by offering an incredible service and experience, there are a few ways you can continue to boost customer satisfaction even after they’ve left.

  • Focus on customer experience: Never underestimate the power of going above and beyond.

Find new and exciting ways to cater to your customers needs, always taking the extra step to provide unparalleled customer service. Cater to each guests’ individual needs, making every experience personalised, authentic and memorable.

If the guest feels like you are there for only them, they will also feel included, welcomed and wanted.

  • Respond to customer feedback: Customer service doesn’t end when your guests go home.

Keep a pulse on every review that comes through your TripAdvisor account. Respond to five-star reviews with the same diligence as one-star ones, showing the customer that you genuinely care about their opinion and want to improve your level of service.

When writing a response, remember that your commentary is searchable, so including a few relevant terms such as “family-friendly” or “complimentary” can be beneficial.

Lastly, enjoy your work. I can honestly say that I look forward to serving my guests.

I feel privileged to be a part of their evening or celebration… and I should. They have chosen to spend time with you at your establishment, so let them feel you want to be there and are proud of what you do.

  • A smile goes a long way, but enthusiasm goes much further. If you want to be successful you need everyone to leave ‘wanting more’.

You can’t get them to return unless they want to come back, and that is all in how welcome you made them feel.

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