6 Customer Experience Lessons From Bartending For Digital Marketers

Most of us have experienced the difference between a so-so bartender and an excellent bartender.  It isn’t just about the drink they serve, it is about how they make us feel.  Bartenders pay attention to the quality of their product and the manner in which it is served.  Excellent bartenders make each patron feel unique without alienating the rest of their clientele.

Today’s brands are challenged to act like an excellent bartender.  This challenge is compounded by being physically removed from the customer for the lion share of customer engagement. Of course an advantage is access to technology to assist in the process.

What follows are core values from top bartenders and how one might apply them to the digital experience.

Quick Recognition is Appreciated

Walking into a bar and waiting more than 30 seconds to be recognized is frustrating.  Any good bartender will issue the head nod, throw down a napkin or say hello even if they can’t take your order right away.  This creates good will, forgiveness and manages expectations. Most patrons won’t leave and go to another bar, they will wait their turn.  Brands can accomplish a similar model digitally.  Recognizing your customer doesn’t require knowing their name or order history.  It means welcoming them to your experience. Web or remarketing cookies, their geographic location or referring URL can be used on owned media to welcome them with appropriate content, letting them know you are paying attention.

Appropriate Familiarity Matters

Good bartenders treat everyone equally.  Great bartenders read the crowd and are service chameleons. Treating a first time customer with the familiarity of a daily regular can be a mistake in creepy.  Building a rapport is important in any service situation and digital rapport can’t be processed mentally, it must be stored technically.  What’s more is the information alone won’t be enough.  Marketers must create rules ahead of time so that familiarity can grow and increase in value over time.  Google is a leading example of this with their suite of tools and products.  Technology is powerful enough to do far more than what Google’s consumers experience today.  And over time the experience will evolve further.  To begin building the familiarity Google began by predicting our search terms.  Then recommending organizational tactics for documents and emails.  Eventually, they began to tell us when to leave for our next appointment due to traffic.  It’s evolutionary.

Speed of Service is Key

Bartenders know that not delivering the drink in three minutes degrades the experience and usually the gratuity. Digital gratuity isn’t quite as obvious and differs from brand to brand.  Loyalty, ambassadorship, evangelism and the purchase can be valuable to the brand at different times.  Regardless, the customer experience must be fast.  Though quickness is appropriate for many levels of the business from fulfillment to customer service, with the digital experience it isn’t a nice to have: it’s table stakes. Delivery of content, transactions, confirmations, updates are all capable of being served in near real time.  And customers have come to expect it.  Perhaps the single most damaging experience your customer can have, is to wait.

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