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The importance of customer service for bartenders

Skills You'll Need | April 24, 2017

Highlighting your customer service skills and experience on your resume can help you stand out in an application pool saturated with would-be bartenders.

The day-to-day tasks of a bartender encompass a variety of duties. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, bartenders "greet customers, give them menus, inform them about daily specials, take drink orders from customers, pour and serve wine, beer, and other drinks and beverages, mix drinks according to recipes, check identification of customers to ensure that they are of legal drinking age, clean bars, tables, and work areas, collect payments from customers and return change, manage bar operation and order and maintain liquor and bar supplies." That's a lot to do!

Because so much of a bartender's job hinges on connections with people, it is vital to be personable and practice great customer service.

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The BLS also provides a simple rationale as to why customer service is a core skill for bartenders: "because bartenders often are on the front lines of customer service in bars and restaurants, a neat appearance is important. Those who work in upscale restaurants and bars may be required to wear uniforms, including ties or aprons, which may be provided by their employers." Maintaining a neat and stylish appearance, or an appearance that meshes with the atmosphere of the bar or restaurant is a crucial first step to delivering high-quality customer service. If customers don't want to approach you, then you'll have no customers to provide quality customer service!

Bars are inherently social spaces, and customers usually frequent bars to have a fun night out or casually meet new people. Customer service skills are important to facilitate a friendly and lively environment in which all customers can feel welcome. Bartenders are often expected to make cordial small talk with patrons and, especially if the bar is smaller or local, to get to know regular customers and memorize their typical orders. Additionally, because many different kinds of people go to bars, bartenders need to be able to get along with anyone — even when that requires mitigating difficult or unruly customers without offending or upsetting them further. Exceptional customer service for bartenders means being adaptable to distinct personalities and situations.

Unlike in a traditional restaurant setting, some bartenders need to be their own cooks, and servers in addition to making drinks, taking orders, and keeping their serving area and tools sanitary. Bartenders, therefore, need to find a balance between being quick on their feet and ensuring all of their serving tasks are completed with efficiency, and to be personable at the bar. The key to fulfilling these many demands with style and grace are a reliable memory (including the ability to recall names and orders), good multitasking skills, and the ability to connect with people on a personal level.

That said, depending on the situation, even the best bartenders can struggle. For example, if it's a crowded night at the bar, customers can become irritated waiting for a bartender's attention or competing with each other for a space in the bar. On top of being adaptable and personable, customer service for bartenders also involves maintaining control and projecting authority. Bartenders should also be judicious about the order in which they serve people, clearly laying out their rationale when customers complain. If a patron becomes unruly, a bartender should take charge in dealing with them — part of effective customer service is knowing when to limit your customers or cut them off entirely.

Because bar and restaurant managers understand the scope of these responsibilities (often having once been bartenders themselves), they're always on the lookout for applicants who demonstrate customer service experience on their resume, backed up by specific examples. Unlike other customer-facing professions, good service in a bar is a balancing act between being personable and being assertive; whether you're looking for a part-time gig or aiming to be a professional bartender, highlight customer service on your resume to increase your chances of a successful hire — people are continually attracted to this lucrative career for a reason.